Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 Season Preview!

Hello world, it's the news that everyone's been waiting for: BadNFL is back! Boy did I need these last 8 months off, after an extremely rough 2010 season. But I'm going to choose to take the view that the misfires last year reflected a mix of a) correctable mistakes and b) bad luck. Thus, it's a whole new season, and BadNFL has a clean slate. Before the week 1 pick, which should be coming soon, I wanted to recap some of the things we learned from last season.

1. The Hilton 100 theory:

For those who are new to the blog, I explained the basic theory here and tracked the results throughout the season. The results were freakish; 15-4 ATS, with a massive median margin of victory. It will certainly bear watching this year. Of course, if lowly BadNFL has spotted the trend, there is no question that sharps and linemakers have as well. Thus, I imagine that lines will shift rather quickly once the Hilton picks are released this year. Of course, if you were a professional bettor who monitored these things in real time, you may still have time to get in bets on the Hilton 100 candidates. But for an amateur blog like BadNFL, which is just for fun and which I usually don't publish until Friday or Saturday, there's not going to be that opportunity. Accordingly, it seems likely that the pattern of my Packers/Bears pick from last year will repeat itself: Hilton 100 says that Packers -6.5 is a lock, but by the time I wrote my entry the line had shifted to Packers -9, and of course the Packers won by 7.

Nonetheless, I will continue to monitor the viability of the Hilton contest as a prediction market. Somewhat relatedly, I will monitor the contrarian theory -- the idea that the public serves as an inverse prediction market (in short, the public is usually wrong about NFL games). Although I had mixed results deploying that logic last year, the overall stats still seem promising.

2. East Coast Travel

This theory is as simple as it is well-known: west coast teams struggle in early games played on the east coast. I documented some of the evidence supporting this theory here. I also performed some of my own calculations on the data ranging from 2008-2010, and West Coast teams traveling east are 17-24 ATS. Not bad, although hardly definitive over such a small sample size. Given that so much of the NFL is luck, I also focused in on those games where the west coast team failed to cover by over a TD -- i.e. those games where they severely underperformed. A good 16 of those 24 losses were by over a touchdown, and a shocking number of those games were complete blowouts. This bears further watching.

3. Picking against lucky teams

This year I'm going to focus on finding teams midseason that have either been significantly lucky or unlucky. I demonstrated this approach last year in a successful pick against both the Jets and the Redskins. The theory is that those teams will be misvalued based on their record, as opposed to their true ability, at a certain point in the season. You'll likely see my attempt to employ this logic in week 1.

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