Saturday, October 30, 2010

Update: Lions Are Consensus Hilton Pick

Last week I wrote briefly about a theory that the Hilton Super Contest serves as a prediction market for NFL games, and I also said I'd track the performance of games that receive over 100 picks. This week, there were 3 such games: Saints -1 (110), Lions -2.5 (103), and Miami +2.5 (102). We'll see how these picks do -- keeping in mind that the Fins pick was one that I almost made. Overall, the top 5 picks from the Hilton contest don't do all that well, although that doesn't disprove my theory, because often the level of support for the 4th and 5th games will fall off dramatically.

But most intriguingly, my Lions pick enjoys by far the biggest margin of support this week (+61, or 103 Lions picks vs. 42 Redskins picks). It's a delicate line to tow, given that I premised my pick in large part on betting against the public. But I'm proceeding under a working hypothesis that Hilton contestants enjoy an advantage against the general public, and that this news is thus good news. At the very least, it means that my thinking this week is consistent with those who actually gamble, for a living (for the most part, at least -- I was inclined to take the Steelers and not at all impressed by the Saints -1 line). We'll see.

Week 8 Pick: Lions -2.5 vs. Redskins

Fresh off my first win of the season, will the success continue this week? I started out tempted by Dolphins +1.5 @ Bengals, for reasons essentially captured by Simmons this week, but I couldn't pull the trigger in large part because of the overwhelming amount of public money on the Dolphins. For reasons explained below, I ended up going with the Lions instead.

1. The Skins are deceptively bad right now.

Most writers seem to think that the Skins have acquired an aura of respectability. Peter King even thinks that they may have a shot in the NFC title race. Of course, they're off what seems like a good road win last week against the 4-3 Bears. But their 4-3 record is full of a lot of really close, somewhat fluky wins, wins that have masked some serious deficiencies. Their offensive line is quite precarious and struggling with injury, and McNabb's play has epitomized maddening inconsistency.

But most troublingly, the Redskins' yardage stats are atrocious: they are next-to-last in the NFL in yards allowed on defense. In other words, this has been an extremely porous unit worse than the maligned defenses of the Bills, Cardinals, and Jaguars. To be sure, there have been the predictable stories about how the Redskins are forcing lots of turnovers, due to coordinator's Jim Haslett's practice techniques. In those stories, the Skins' players and commentators compare the Skins defense to that of the 2009 Saints, which was a porous but turnover-forcing unit. But those Saints were able to win with a historically high-powered offense driven by Drew Brees and his array of weapons, something to which this Skins offense, ranked 19th in the league in offensive DVOA, pales in comparison. Moreover, even adjusting for turnovers (as FO's defensive DVOA does), the Skins defense is in the bottom third of the league.

As I pointed out in my preseason analysis of the Saints' likely crash back down to earth (which does appear to be happening), turnovers are a tricky thing that fluctuate wildly week to week. To that point, not every game is going to be as ridiculously ugly as the Skins win over the Bears last week. Instead, this week I expect the Skins' atrocious 4.7 YPC allowed on the ground to rear its head, a facet of the game that will energize Best and the entire Lions' offense.

What is McNabb's explanation for their shaky play, notwithstanding their 4-3 record? Incredibly, he claims that they've been unlucky and that breaks haven't generally gone their way. But to claim that the Skins have suffered bad luck this year severely strains credulity. Let us review the ways in which the Skins have won games this year:
  • A holding call on Alex Barron negates what otherwise would have been the gamewinning touchdown for the Cowboys, converting a sure loss into a Skins win.
  • Against the Packers, in a game in which the Packers lost their Pro Bowl LB and TE to fluky injuries in the 1st quarter, Green Bay's FG bounces off the left upright as time expires to send the game to OT, allowing the Skins to win the game on a field goal.
  • Last week, the Redskins went 7 for 8 in recovering their own fumbles, which has to be an NFL all-time record. As people who read either this blog or FO know, fumble recoveries are generally pure luck. Seven for eight is, needless to say, quite lucky.
  • In that same game, McNabb had what would have been a backbreaking pick-6 negated by his own delay-of-game penalty that nobody heard (remember: they won this game by 3 points). 
  • He's also had passes like this: deflected balls that rebound right to his receivers.
  • Key players on opposing teams have gotten hurt at an absurd rate in the middle of Redskins' games -- and not because of hard hits, but because of pulled hamstrings and other random events.
In other words, the Redskins have been the luckiest team in the league this year. But I'm not sure people in general -- and certainly not McNabb -- have realized it. Instead, they win ugly games, like last week's, in which Jay Cutler was more responsible for the Redskins' victory than anything Washington did. Of course, much is being made of DeAngelo Hall's undeniably nice game, in which he had 4 interceptions. But as I pointed out last week, Cutler is playing scared because of all the hard hits and sacks to which he's been subjected, and the interceptions were largely the fruit of his erratic play. Watch these interceptions: while the first one is a legitimately nice play, the others are classic Cutler -- back foot, wild throws that are easy pickings. This week, Hall is going to be matched up with the supremely talented Calvin Johnson, who is quite an upgrade over the Bears' middling WRs from last week. Given that DeAngelo Hall tends to be inconsistent from week to week, and is generally overrated, I expect him to have a subpar performance this week.

But why did I start out by emphasizing the Skins' inflated value? Because this pick presents a great opportunity to test out the contrarian theory that I briefly explored last week. In short, the Redskins are receiving 70% of the money this week, a fact that the stats suggest is a bad sign for them covering. Also, if you track the betting trends throughout the week (and the way that the line has been pushed up while the overall money stays heavily on the Skins), it confirms what Millman recently reported: that the Sharps have been buying the Lions strong while the public stays on the overrated Skins. The contrarian theory -- perhaps particularly appropriate in a year in which nothing related to the NFL seems to make much sense and in which the public is usually wrong -- suggests that now is a great time to pick the Lions.

2.  Lions are significantly underrated, particularly at home.

The Lions are the best team in the league against the spread with a 5-1 record. Particularly intriguing is their point differential: despite their 1-5 record, they've scored more points than they've allowed. Given this point differential, their pythagorean record, which is in the long run a more accurate assessment of a team's quality than its actual win-loss record -- is closer to 4-3. They're also showing signs of improvement each week and might be a late blooming team this year.

I particularly like the Lions' defensive line, and the Lions' consonant ability to stop the Redskins' zone-blocking rushing scheme. But primarily, the Lions have been somewhat banged up, but they're coming out of their bye week much healthier than they've been. And although they've been somewhat inconsistent in the red zone, as BadNFL followers painfully remember, there are reasons to think that they'll perform better coming off a bye and a previous poor performance. Moreover, the Lions beat the Skins last year to snap a 19 game losing streak, and they look much better at home this year.


My main worry is that Stafford, in his first game back and pressing too much, might throw a lot of Cutler-esque interceptions. But he's looked good in practice and should be ready to run the entire offense. And more importantly, I expect the rejuvenated and talented rookie Jahvid Best to control the game on the ground against the Skins' porous rush defense, obviating the need for Stafford to sling it around too much.

Ultimately, this is the 2nd of back-to-back road trips for the Skins, and they've demonstrated a tendency to play down to the level of weaker opponents this year. I don't think they'll have the same turnover-inducing magic that they did last week, and thus I like the Lions to win. Admittedly, given the Skins' penchant for close games this year, I wouldn't like this game nearly as much if it were at -3. But if it stays below that key number, I'm taking it. Lions cover.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Upon Further Review: Skins Cover!!!

Jay Cutler and the Bears' O-Line, I love you! Oh how sweet it feels; for the first time since January, BadNFL has a positive week. Although the Skins did everything possible to blow this game, they did manage to cover. Put simply, the QB play was atrocious.

Cutler obviously threw some backbreaking interceptions, but his fumble on the 1 yard-line on a QB sneak was particularly devastating.  To be sure, Lovie probably should have challenged it, but that failure speaks volumes about the state of the Bears' organization. Some analysts argue that the breakdown extends beyond Cutler to the entire offensive system, as the breakdowns across the board leave the team in danger of unraveling.  

He was under a lot of pressure from the Redskins' defensive line, which was bolstered by Albert Haynesworth long overdue emergence. And as I predicted, Orapko was a constant presence. But overall, this was about Cutler, and the Bears, being still significantly overrated.  It is true that the Bears outgained the Skins by nearly a yard and a half per play. It is also true that the Redskins' offense failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities to close out the game. But this game was about the Bears' self-inflicted wounds (reminds me of the Cowboys) and allowing the Redskins to cover in an exceedingly sloppy game.


1. Identify QBs who are structurally flawed. Jay Cutler, take a bow. To his credit, he's taken a lot of hits, but because of it he's looked like he's playing scared, unable to make good decisions. Last week, that resulted in him holding the ball too long and getting repeatedly sacked -- something that BadNFL fans watched in agony. This week, it resulted in him chucking the ball up for grabs. His INTs were the story of the game, and despite a very uneven performance by the Skins, they still covered.

Next time we see a gunshy QB like that, one who has been seriously rattled by the pressure, picking against is a great idea. Of course, the counter-argument is that Sanchez looked totally overwhelmed week 1, and we all know what happened with his improbable bounceback against the Pats the following week.

2. The Skins' have been ugly but effective. This was yet another Skins' game that was so ugly it was hard to watch. But like most of their games (5 of their last 6 have been decided by 5 points or fewer, and 4 by exactly 3 points), it came down to 3 points, and this time the Skins' managed to pull it off. Morale of the story? The Skins are looking like a team I would never want to pick if they were favored, but as 3+ point underdog, they've proven pretty reliable.

3. Pay attention to the actual Hilton Contest. For those of you who don't know, this is a collection of mostly sharps who play for a major prize, picking 5 games each week. Given the number of participants, general quality of the players, and huge economic incentive for well thought-out picks, I've pondered whether the pool of Hilton contestants might serve as a prediction market (a concept that is gaining favor among many economists as outperforming statistical prediction) in which the wisdom of qualified crowds generates accurate predictions.

I've started systematically tracking the results this week, and I'm going to keep track of the performance, against the spread, of any pick that receives at least 100 Hilton picks (there are usually only 2 teams per week that qualify). This week, those two picks were Seattle -5.5 vs. Cardinals and Chiefs -7 vs. Jacksonville. Both teams covered easily, by an average of 10.5 points beyond the spread. That will be an interesting trend to monitor.

4. Conversely, beware the "wisdom" of the public. Chad Millman had a post this week in which he pointed out some remarkable stats: since 2003, when 65% of the public money comes in on one team, the other team covers 56% of the time. This year, such public-backed teams were 18-26 coming into Week 7 -- only a 40% win percentage.

Very interesting. The game singled out by Millman as being well-suited to the deployment of "contrarian logic" (i.e. betting against the public) was the Browns +13 @ Saints. Well, that obviously would have been a great pick. Especially betting against an overrated team like the Saints, coming off what was apparently a one-week mirage against the Bucs. In retrospect, I think that may have been the soundest pick of the week. In any event, check back next week to see if I can get that elusive 2nd win of the season.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 7 Pick: Redskins +3 @ Bears

Short post this week, because I'm too busy being elated about the Rangers to really care much about my crappy picks. In short: Cutler looks like a deer in the headlights, Orapko is going to have a huge game against the Bears' horrendous offensive line, and the Bears aren't going to score many points. Meanwhile, if the Bears do win, they typically win close ones, and I like the points.

Or, alternatively, this post guarantees that the Bears are going to dominate the Redskins. Such has been the way things are going this year. I'll get up the stamina and motivation to write lengthy posts again if I ever manage to make a successful pick. Which doesn't seem all that likely right now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week 6 Pick: Bears -6.5 vs. Seahawks

I despise Jay Cutler. But I'm going with him this week. I basically only have one reason: Seattle is atrocious on the road. Look at their point differentials: they're +32 at home and -34 on the road. This is also not just a 1-year anomaly, as they were just as putrid on the road last year. For those of you who have followed the BadNFL carnage this year, you'll remember week 1 and my underestimation of the Qwest Field advantage. The flip side of that advantage is that the Seahawks play without energy on the road, and they consequently tend to get spanked.

Cutler also seems good to go for this week, and despite the Bears' extraordinarily sloppy win over the Panthers last week, I think that Cutler will make them a lot better (I also think that his bad performance against the Giants can be attributed to the Giants' dominating D-line and Cutler's ongoing struggles at night). This is a day game, against a team that I continue to think is bad, playing at Soldier field. He'll be fine.

More importantly, I've been much impressed by the Bears' defense. Peppers is dominating, and the Seattle offensive line -- including Russell Okung playing his first full game in the NFL, coming off an ankle injury, will struggle. The Bears have shown a tendency to generate points off defense and special teams, eerily reminiscent of their 2006 season. I expect that trend to continue this week.

Yes, Cutler's Bears have not won many blowouts; their largest win, before last week's slopfest against Carolina, was by 7 over Dallas. But Seattle has made a habit of being blown out on the road. I thus think the Bears will cover this.


As I said last week, I'm going to pick a few more games, in abbreviated form, just for fun at the bottom of each post. I unsurprisingly started off terribly last week, going 1-4. This week, I like:
  • Falcons + 3 @ Eagles. Falcons are playing like the NFC's best team, and the Eagles have been quite inconsistent. I like the points here. 
  • Bucs +4.5 vs. Saints. I almost picked this game as my main pick -- the Saints are playing really bad football and Tampa Bay is young and energetic, and they're playing at home. Tampa Bay is certainly better than the Cardinals, to whom the Saints lost rather handily last week. I thought this game would be a pick 'em, so at +4.5, I love the Bucs. 
  • Colts -3 @ Redskins. You never pick against Peyton Manning in a night game. I'm sure that's what Simmons will write this week, and I subscribe to that theory. 
  • Chiefs +4.5 @ Texans. The Chiefs acquitted themselves well in a narrow loss against Indy last week, and I think we may be overrating the Texans based upon their admittedly impressive week 1 performance. But it's now week 6, and the Chiefs shouldn't be getting this many points. 
Only the Cowboys need a win more than BadNFL this week. LET'S GO BEARS!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Upon Further Review: Cowboys Lose 27-34.

Yet another Monday leaves me trotting out the same old tired refrain: things did not go as expected. What a disappointing weekend. I was obviously wrong about the Cowboys being mentally prepared emerging from their bye; they lost despite having a 400 yard passer and well over 100 yards on the ground. Jean-Jacques Taylor of the DMN put it well:
It happened Sunday because these Cowboys play with the consistency of a six-year-old’s flag football team. Mental mistakes. Physical mistakes. Dumb mistakes.
That was the story of the game, and the Cowboys blew it with mistake after mistake. I'm at a loss to explain it, except that the Cowboys have some stupid players and lax coaches. So much for the great practices and bye week history of success that I wrote about.

Also give credit to the Titans; they found a way to make plays when it mattered, and their defensive line was very impressive. In fact, they've now won 2 games in which they've been seriously outgained (the other was the game where the Giants imploded even worse than the Cowboys). Sharps and stats people generally say that such trends aren't sustainable. We'll see.

My only consolation is that many actual bettors and sharps did terribly this week. As Millman wrote:
But this year, no one -- 'dogs or favorites -- has been showing enough consistency that people can get a read on where the value is. When I was trolling through the forums last week, people were lamenting how tough it was to handicap this week's 'dog slate.
No kidding. The underdogs have been dominating lately, but it's been difficult to get a good sense of which dogs will play well. Detroit is the most obvious example -- they've now covered in 4 of their 5 games, the lone exception being when they were a double-digit dog to the 1-2 Vikings (and of course the one week that BadNFL picked them).

What do I wish my strategy had been through this point in the season? I wish I had stayed true to two of my preseason convictions -- that the Saints were seriously overrated and that the Bills were the worst team in the league. The Saints have stayed true to the form that I thought they would take, failing to cover in 3 straight now, including an awful loss to the Cardinals. The Bills look as bad as ever, losing handily to a Jacksonville team that struggles mightily on the road. If my predictions had simply stuck to those convictions, my record would be much better. As it stands, however, the blog falls to 0-5, and my Hilton Contest feature that I debuted last week opens with a putrid 1-4 (thanks Atlanta!).

I've essentially now written off this season, but am going to stick with this in the hopes that I can continue to learn and wow everyone with an amazing Year 3.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Week 5 Pick: Cowboys -6.5 vs. Titans

Well, it's come to this: desperate to break a miserable streak to start the season, I must be crazy, because I'm latching onto the Cowboys (readers will remember how poorly this went last time I tried it). But despite my general dislike of much that goes on at Valley Ranch these days, I feel good about this line. Here's why:

1. The Cowboys are coming off a bye.

It may surprise many, if not most of you, that I am actually touting Wade Phillips as a reason to like the Cowboys this week. After all, the man does have his detractors. But I've always been a little higher on him than most from a tactical standpoint, and I'm particularly high on his ability to coach after the bye week. Admittedly, the bye statistically unimportant in general (a fact I've pointed out before). But with the Cowboys -- particularly in the Wade Phillips era -- it makes a difference. In short, the Cowboys have been fantastic after byes under the Phillips regime. I went back and looked at the stats: they had a 36-21 win vs. the Falcons, a 14-10 win at Washington, and a 38-17 win vs. the Eagles. They covered the spread in all 3 games, and all 3 opponents were .500 or better. The Cowboys streak of post-bye wins also extends back 2 additional years into the Parcells' era.

Of course, it's possible with a sample size that small that the Cowboys' recent bye week success is just an anomoly -- a random fluctuation that has little relationship to what will happen this year. But I think it reflects Wade's ability to use the time off to ratchet up the sophistication level of the Cowboys' defensive schemes. Using Pro Football Reference, I went back and cross-checked the post-bye performances of Phillips' Chargers when he was the defensive coordinator, and they gave up an average of only 14.3 points in those games. Likewise, recent history suggests that the Cowboys have been effective at bouncing back from losses and using the bye to establish momentum.

I like their chances to do so again this year. The vibes are fantastic coming out of Valley Ranch; the Boys have been practicing intensely and well during the time off, with a focus on football and a blessed lack of hype or distraction. Moreover, they are, for the first time this year, quite healthy. And most importantly, I think scheme -- and time to gameplan -- matters an unusual amount when playing the Titans. The Titans present a unique schematic problem for opposing coordinators: Vince Young's ability to run the ball, combined with Chris Johnson's shifty and explosive running style, make scheme and defensive discipline paramount. The Cowboys have been making progress on both those fronts, and I think the bye hastens that progress.

I also just really like where this Cowboys team is right now. They're not too hyped (they're last in the division), but given the dearth of dominant NFC teams, they're far from dead. For those of us familiar with the Cowboys' history, that's exactly when this team thrives.  They're flying under the radar, but they are coming off a terrific performance against a good Texans' team, and their front 7 on defense has the makings of a truly elite unit.

Thus, although more people are starting to pick up on the Boys' bye week secret, this line still seems a little low.

2. The Cowboys can take away what the Titans do best.

Put simply, the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme excels in stopping the run. They are terrific at containing elite running backs, as only 3 backs have rushed for 100 yards in the past 2 seasons (look at what AP did against them last time). Indeed, one of the real trademarks of the Phillips scheme has been its relative invulnerability to dominant rushing teams. Given the time to scheme provided by the bye, I think that the rush defense will be even stronger than usual.

If they can do that, I like their chances to win handily. VY, while an exciting young QB, has yet to show that he can take over a game through the air against a good team. In fact, this year the Titans' have shown an alarming inability to generate explosive vertical plays -- something teams really need to be successful in this wide-open league. Part of this is undoubtedly playcalling, but part of it is that both Chris Johnson and the offensive line look out of sync. You know they're in trouble because last week they had the game against the Broncos well in hand yet allowed the Broncos back in the game. If the Cowboys can limit their exposure to explosive running plays, which I think they can, I think they can generate a significant lead.


Faithful readers know how much emphasis BadNFL places on a good pass rush, and the Titans have had a good one. Actually, they're tied for 1st in the NFL with 16 sacks. That said, it doesn't overly worry me this week. The Titans have impressively rallied to overcome injury thus far, but the loss of Derrick Morgan will really stretch their already precarious depth. It was arguably their lack of depth -- and the corresponding propensity of their defense to wear down late in games -- that enabled the Orton-led comeback last week.

Moreover, the Cowboys have been decent in protection this year. Doug Free, who was for many the team's biggest question mark as the season began, has played admirably. Surprisingly, the Cowboys also lead the league in fewest sacks allowed (although Alex Barron's holds saved a few otherwise sacks). While the Titans will get some pressure, I expect the Boys to be able to put up plenty of points to cover this spread. Before I even saw this line, I knew I would likely be taking it -- and at under a touchdown, I'm loving it.

Cowboys cover, and BadNFL finally gets off the schneid this week.


At the behest of one of BadNFL's good buddies, one of the co-authors of the fine blog that is Vandy Sports Line (a must read for any SEC or even CFB fan), I'm taking this opportunity to add a new feature. Modeled on the Las Vegas Hilton Suprecontest, about which I wrote here, I'm going to pick 4 additional games each week at the bottom of my main post. Although the focus will still be on my main prediction, and my analysis will be quite brief of the additional games, I figure it'll be a good chance to get more predictions out there and, in times like these, balance out tough-to-swallow loss streaks. This week, my additional games are:
  • Atlanta -3 @ Cleveland. Cleveland, while better than we thought, isn't a great team, and they're coming off a feel-good win against the Bengals. I think Atlanta is still underrated, and like their chances to cover on the road. 
  • St. Louis +3 @ Detroit. St. Louis has looked quite good in the past 2 weeks, and Detroit has yet to win a game. Although I'm a little concerned about the Rams going on the road, I think it'll be a close game and I like the points. 
  • Denver +7 @ Baltimore. That was a huge, huge win for Flacco and the Ravens last week. I expect a major letdown against a frisky Broncos team this week. Seven points is too many. 
  • NO -7 @ Arizona. I don't love New Orleans right now, but Arizona is absolutely atrocious, and I think the Saints will eek out a double digit win.
Check back next week to see how I do!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Update: Not Helping Matters

Millman today writes about the scene in Vegas when the Ravens won the game on their final drive, explaining that:
And when you have picked the Pittsburgh Steelers minus-1.5 over the Baltimore Ravens and they are up by four with 68 seconds left and the Ravens have to drive 60 yards against the best defense in the league, you should expect to be able to comfortably change the channel so you can lend your betting karma to the Cleveland Browns.
Not when BadNFL has picked the Steelers though. I'm just shaking my head. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Upon Further Review: the misery continues

If any of you happen to take a trip to Vegas in the near future, you might want to just place a bet down on the opposite of whatever BadNFL picks, because that is a surefire lock. I'm not even going to wait for the recaps to come out on this game, because I'm just too pissed and want to get this off my chest.

1. The Steelers imploded in the final 2 minutes. They had a 4-point lead and the ball with 2:40 left, and the Ravens had one timeout. In other words, it's looking pretty good, right? But the play-by-play at that point reads like the description of a poorly coached high school team. False start, false start, holding, interspersed with 3 bad runs. The result is that the Ravens get the ball back at the Steelers 39 yard line. Of course, given that it's the Steelers defense against Joe Flacco, at Heinz field, with no timeouts and only 1 minute remaining, I would normally like my chances. But the football gods knew that BadNFL picked the Steelers, and the Ravens scored on 4 easy plays -- that last of which saw T.J. "so washed up that he was cut by the offensively challenged Seahawks" Houshmandzadeh horribly burning the Steelers on a double move. Why a smart defensive unit like the Steelers falls for a double f'ing move with only 30 seconds left, up by 4 I have no idea. But it happened, and my prediction bombs again.

2. The Lions. I absolutely love that they play the Packers, in Lambeau, to a 2-point game this week. I guess they got all of their punt muffing, dual goal line pick-throwing, non-Percy Harvin covering incompetence out of their system last week, I guess. They've now easily covered in 3 of their 4 games, as have the Steelers. Guess which one in which they didn't? That's right, in weeks that BadNFL picked them.

3. Charlie Batch was not good -- he missed several deep balls that he should have had, looked very nervous in the pocket, and didn't generate much of anything through the air. Of course nobody is that surprised by that. But Mendenhall barely averaging over 3 yards per carry, a week after Peyton Hillis abused the Ravens' defense? Yep, makes sense, I guess.

4. Jeff Reed. At least one pattern continued: every team that BadNFL has picked this year has missed at least 1 FG, usually 2. Reed was 0/2, which didn't help anything.

5. What I should have picked: Jets -6 @ the Bills. I already said the Bills were the worst team in the league, so it's unclear why I wouldn't pick an OK team against them. The Jets absolutely abused them, and that one I should have seen coming.

Update: Hilton Contestants Following BadNFL?

Courtesy of Chad Millman, we find out this morning that Steelers -1.5 is one of the consensus picks in the Las Vegas Hilton Supercontest. Although when I checked the pick compilations, it looks like 100 contestants have picked Steelers -1.5, while 86 have picked Ravens +1.5 (so it seems like far from a solid consensus). Still, I'm surprised at how much action this game is getting on both sides; it has to be the most heavily picked game of the contest.

One explanation may be the desire to bet against the "hot" team. Millman explained this basic theory earlier this week; the idea is that by betting against the hot team, you capitalize on the recency bias that infects many prognosticators' approach to these games (a topic we've covered extensively here before on BadNFL).

Still, that 100 people picked the same game I did is interesting; it was the 3rd most popular prediction of the week, and that was at -1.5, whereas the line was at -1 at the time of my post. We'll see. I'm feeling good about it, but we all know that hasn't meant much of anything this year...