2017 WEEK 13 PICKS

What a bummer. I went from having 10 correct picks last week to 6 this week; and my Thanksgiving and Super Hot picks were both 1-2. Some quick comments:

1. The rash of QB changes going on in the league right now is really throwing me and The Machine. Not only am I having a heck of a time keeping track of it all, but I don’t yet have a way of estimating the difference, in points, between one QB and another. The difference between Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley I’d think is at least a touchdown, but what’s the difference between, say, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick? 3 points? 8 points?

2. For next year, I’m going to have to do something about how slow the The Machine is in catching up to teams that have radically changed from the previous year. By week 4, it was plain to see that the Rams were significantly better this year than they were last year. Although I give less weight to the previous season’s games in my ratings (progressively weighting them less and less as the current season progresses), for some teams, like the Rams, those games should probably be thrown out altogether.

3. In the Brady/Belichick era, there are certain stretches during the season where the Patriots are so consistent – meaning, if your system says they’ll win a game by two touchdowns, they’ll do it – that you can just cash your ticket before the game starts. I think we’re in one of those stretches right now.

Where I’m at:

All Picks: 95-81, 54.0%
ESPN Leaderboard Rank: 7353, 96%
Super Hot Sizzling Picks: 17-16, 51.5%
Bankroll: +$59 (betting $11 on every game)

Not bad, but good handicappers are more in the 55-56% range (sometimes higher of course).



I’m taking 8 dogs and 8 favorites so that there’s balance in the Universe. Patriots -8.5 over the Bills seems alright, but I’m not too comfortable laying the points with the Chargers (-13.5) against the Browns. I must obey The Machine, but this feels like too many points for the Chargers to cover, even against the Browns. At some point, the Browns have to cover a spread, right?


Indianapolis at Jacksonville, Jaguars by 9.5
My ATS pick: Jaguars

Kind of surreal seeing the Jaguars favored by anything over a field goal, considering how bad they’ve been the past few years. The last time they were favored by as much as 9.5 was in Week 6 of the 2009 season, when, at 3-3, they faced the 0-6 Rams and won in overtime, 23-20. This is a lot of points, but I’ve got no choice – the Colts are one of the worst teams in the league and the Jaguars are one of the best (yes, because of their defense; I don’t think they’ll get far in the playoffs). I’ll admit, I’m a little concerned that they just lost to Arizona (bad team), but the Cardinals can be tough at home and the Jags lost two fumbles in that game. They’ll be at home for this game, and I’m counting on them not losing any fumbles (and maybe forcing a few): Jaguars 23, Colts 10.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Steelers by 6.5
My ATS pick: Bengals

These two teams already dislike each other, but if the Bengals needed any other reason to get fired up for this contest, Steelers HC Mike Tomlin has given it to them. In a recent interview with Tony Dungy, Tomlin seemed fairly confident that the Steelers would be facing the Patriots in the AFC title game, which could be construed as an insult to the teams they still have to face, since for that to happen, the Steelers would need to win just about all of their remaining games – including this week’s game against the Bengals. While I don’t feed this type of “insight” into The Machine (although I do make a slight adjustment for division games), I feel a little more comfortable with the pick because of it. The Bengals will be fired up and keep it close enough to cover the spread, but still lose: Steelers 20, Bengals 17.

Houston at Tennessee, Titans by 6.5
My ATS pick: Texans

This is my pick of the week. I can’t wrap my mind around the Titans being favored by almost a touchdown against any team. They aren’t horrible, but they’re not good either and when facing an equally “not horrible” team like the Texans, I’m thinking they get the customary 2-3 points for home field and that’s it. I’ve actually got the Texans as a slightly better team anyway, even with QB Tom Savage. Tennessee barely, just barely, gets this one: Titans 24, Texans 23.

Have a great weekend all!

  • Adam

    Have you been manually adjusting for QB injuries up to this point? I don’t remember you mentioning this before. I agree that Rodgers is probably worth 7-10 points over Hundley, but I think Winston is only 2-4 points better than Fitzpatrick.

    Probably a good idea to put less emphasis on the previous season; the NFL just changes so much from year to year. Subjectively I’ve fallen prey to this as well, especially in regard to not giving the Eagles and Rams enough credit.

    • Tom

      Adam – really, really tough to figure out to handle the whole injury thing, especially when it comes to QB. The only thing I do right now is guesstimate how much a player is worth, than make the adjustment. So, if I have a spread that says GNB with Rodgers should win by 8, but he just got injured and is out, my spread drops to GNB winning by 1. It’s wonky, just don’t have the time/data to really figure this out. Others have though, I’ve seen stuff where guys estimate what the spread drop is with a certain RB out, or lineman, etc.

  • Adam

    How do you handle a situation like the Chiefs? They were dominant for five weeks and awful for the next six, without much in between. Who are the real Chiefs going forward? Generally full season numbers make better predictions than small sample in-season streaks, but KC might be the exception.

    • Tom

      Always get to these too late! OK, like a lot of systems/models, I give more weight to recent games; I use weights I picked up from Football Outsiders: most recent 4 weeks 100%, after that 99%, then 97%, 94%, 90%, etc. Honestly, I haven’t tested how well this works, I’m just assuming those dudes know what they’re doing. So, yeah, the Chiefs…this is where a point-based, spreadsheet system fails. There’s just no way I can account for their drop-off, unless I watch all the games closely, understand offensive line play, QB mechanics?, who knows what else (basically what expert Vegas lines makers probably do).

      So I’ve lost with them big time…and here’s where you get screwed: your system finally catches up, they play a mediocre team like the Jets, and you have the Jets covering the spread, and then Kansas City remembers that they’re good, and totally blow out the mediocre team. Very, very frustrating.

      There are, generally speaking, two teams that you can rely on, at least for the past few years: the Browns and the Patriots.

  • Adam

    My picks:

    WAS 31, DAL 21 (lol)
    MIN 24, ATL 21
    NE 34, BUF 17
    SF 20, CHI 16
    DEN 23, MIA 20
    BAL 17, DET 13
    GB 24, TB 17
    HOU 24, TEN 21
    JAX 27, IND 10
    KC 20, NYJ 16
    LAC 30, CLE 20
    OAK 28, NYG 17
    LAR 27, ARI 20
    NO 31, CAR 20
    PHI 28, SEA 24
    PIT 20, CIN 17

    • Tom

      Looks like you’ve got 10 correct ATS picks…and we’ve still got one more game! Nice job…I’m scratching my way to 0.500 with 7 correct picks. That last minute Titans TD was a killer…