A few weeks ago I referenced a quote from Brian Murphy about a game result being so unexpected that if you were given spread and over/under lines (prior to kickoff, of course) that matched the final outcome, you’d be signing over your house to me wearing a barrel because they’d seem absurd. (I am henceforth calling these games “Wabbies”.)
The Thursday night game between the Patriots and Bucs has the unusual distinction of being both a trifecta for the crowd and yet also a Wabby.
The Game 1 CPR – 3 for 3
Correct: Straight-up, Against the Spread, Over/Under. The Trifecta!
The crowd predicted the Patriots to win but the Bucs to cover, and the predicted total of 50 was 10% below the line of 56. Not to put too fine a point on it, threading the needle of a favorite winning and an underdog covering is harder than it seems, as the majority of teams that cover also win the game outright.
Having said that, the Patriots have been scoring 33 points by themselves in pretty much every game this season. On top of that, it has been repeated ad nauseum this week that the Patriots have the worst defense in the league. So if I had told you that you could have select the over/under with a total of 34 points on Thursday night, the next day you’d be signing your house over to me wearing a barrel.
What’s worth noting in the data is that the Wednesday predictions were markedly lower, and that pulled the total down below the Over/Under line. We’ll begin to start tracking averages during the week to see if we can connect crowd wisdom to events that occur within the week. In this week, for example, news of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski missing Thursday’s game came out, and the predictions reflected both the Bucs winning and the overall total staying under the Vegas line.
As we say pretty regularly, we’re trying to find value first, and accuracy is a bonus. The crowd prediction of 50 for the total was a six-point gap that indicates pretty significant value, and being right about the actual total is nice but not nearly as important.
The Cynthia Frelund Experience
Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) was 2 for 3 tonight, getting the winner and the spread correct. Again, when the spread is less than 7, that’s pretty tough to do. But to take it a step further, the crowd predicted a spread of 4 when the actual was 5, and that’s pretty impressive. With respect to the over/under, the crowd predicted a total of 58. With a line of 56, Cynthia’s crowd was just barely on the wrong side. As we think about value of a line over time, we’ll try to find where the delta between the crowd’s prediction and the Vegas line indicates value and when it indicates staying away.