Week 1 felt like a grind, despite two of our three Big Plays winning. That can happen when your rating system takes a huge stand on the Cowboys (+4.5), as ours did, and looks completely foolish as the Cowboys get blown out. And guess what? We still think the Cowboys are a good team. As ugly as Dallas looked, we have to remember that turnovers are the most random part of football, so Jerry Jones’s boys weren’t as bad as they seemed. Cam Newton’s injury seemed to be a major setback to our second big play, but Carolina’s (+1.5) defense showed why our system, unlike others out there, remains bullish on their prospects this season. Had we known about Cam Newton’s injury, we still would have played Carolina at the closing price. Derek Anderson may not be good, but Carolina’s system doesn’t rely too heavily on QB play. Our last big play, Buffalo (+7), won outright in overtime. That play was less an endorsement of the Bills than an indictment of the Bears, who we rate as a below-average team, but the public seems to favor, probably because of high profile position players. This doesn’t go directly into our model (as we don’t rate out individual players aside from QB), but our research has found that RB and WR are among the least important (most replaceable) positions in the professional game.
We were sitting pretty at halftime with Jacksonville (+10), our lone Other Play, leading 17-0, but Philly scored 34 unanswered second half points to give us a hard-luck loss. And speaking of comebacks, Atlanta also rallied from a 13-point deficit to beat New Orleans (-3), one of our Break-Even or Better selections. The Giants (+5.5) needed no bad luck to get dominated by Detroit. As you can see below, our picks didn’t do great in terms of closing line value (CLV), though most of that is due to the Newton injury. (*) denotes a Break-Even or Better selection (not an official pick):
- Dallas: picked at +4.5, closed +3.25, CLV +1.25
- Carolina: picked at +1.5, closed +5.5, CLV -4.0 (move likely due to Newton injury)
- Buffalo: picked at +7, closed at +6.75, CLV +0.25
- Jacksonville: picked at +10, closed at +10, CLV 0.0
- *New Orleans: picked at -3, closed at -3, CLV 0.0
- *New York Giants: picked at +5.5, closed at +6.5, CLV -1.0
As a reminder, our Break-Even or Better are not “official” picks. We expect them to turn a very small profit. Break-Even or Better selections should cover the spread between 52.5% and 54% on the time, our Other Plays 54%-55%, and our Big Plays should win more than 55% of the time. Our estimate for each game is based on our line for the game, regressed appropriately towards the market number, as well as the value of different points. How much we weight the market’s number is based on the historical predictive power of the closing line relative to our line. This makes our estimates conservative, since we generally expect lines to move in our direction.
This week’s picks are based on consensus lines as of 3:30pm EST on Wednesday afternoon. As usual, we do not factor in matchup factors or injuries (except QB). We also do not take into account offseason roster moves. Massey-Peabody lines are based on M-P ratings and home field advantage.
Big Plays (2-1 YTD)
- Minnesota +3 vs. New England [MP Line: MIN -0.1]
- New York Jets +8 at Green Bay [MP Line: NYJ +4.5]
- San Diego +6 vs. Seattle [MP Line: SD +2.8]
Other Plays (0-1-0 YTD)
- Dallas +3.5 at Tennessee [MP Line: DAL +0.5]
Break-Even or Better (0-2 YTD)
- Kansas City +12.5 at Denver [MP Line: KC +10.6]
- Oakland +2.5/+3 vs. Houston [MP Line: OAK +0.6]