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Recap

Week 15, Game 1 – The Early Indicator

In Weeks 13 and 14, the crowd missed across all 3 categories, and I was reluctant to write up my recap because I kept hoping that somehow the results would change and the crowd would get at least one right somehow. Sadly, it never did.

In Week 15, though, the crowd got 2 of 3 correct, and yet I was stuck getting a write-up published. As it turns out, this ended up being somewhat of a benefit as I can look back at the week’s games in their entirety and try to draw a through-line.

In the Thursday game between the Broncos and the Colts, the crowd provided an early indication of what was to come. The crowd predicted a strong play on the under, accurately predicted Denver to win, and missed the spread. The game-winner was never really in doubt and neither was the spread winner while QB Brock Osweiler somehow turned in one of his best performances in the last two years, on the road no less. The over/under ended up being a little close for comfort, but the best bet came through.

With the remaining Week 15 games in the rearview mirror as well, the Thursday night game ended up being the early indicator for what was to come.

The Game 1 CPR – 2 for 3.

Correct: Straight-up; Over/Under; Incorrect: Against the Spread

The one key takeaway that I have learned over the last two weeks is that using the term “strong play” has better karma than best bet, so I’m going to stick with that going forward.

We only had 4 predictors on Thursday, and as I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to know what the crowd wisdom truly said with such a small number, though I’ll gladly give credit to the crowd for being right. 🙂

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The Cynthia Frelund Experience

Technically spreaking, Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) also got 2 of 3 right, predicting a final of Broncos 18.6-Colts 16.2, but of course, there are two important points.

  1. We round up or down, so the final predicted would be 19-16 which indicates that Denver would cover the spread.
  2. The crowd indicating that the spread had little value is important information by itself and anyone tailing the crowd would have known to stay away from the spread bet this week.

So in the end, with both those facts in mind, I’m giving Miss Frelund’s crowd the trifecta, which henceforth I’m calling the Wahtzee. (WotC, get it? Thank you, please be sure to tip your wait staff.)

-Chris

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Recap

Week 14, Game 1 – The Good Beat

The crowds missed all 3 picks in the Thursday night game between the Saints and Falcons, but in a way, it was a result that shows how the crowd wisdom can provide value by showing where there is no value.

The crowd predictions, while wrong, pretty much said stay away from this game. The original spread favored the Saints by 2.5, and the total hovered around 52 all week. By Thursday, the spread moved to the Falcons, favoring them also by 2.5. Meanwhile, the crowd’s prediction for the game consistently predicted a close game both with respect to the spread and the over/under.

I heard one of the guys on the Sports Gambling Podcast this week say that, as you get better at betting, you don’t necessarily pick the winners better; you get better at picking games to stay away from.

And that is what the crowd indicated on Thursday. The gap between the crowd prediction for both the spread and the over/under never veered more than a point or two, so the smart move was to wait for better value on Sunday. So even though the crowd came up empty, the silver lining is that it was right that the game was going to be a coin flip, and yea, verily it came to pass.

The Game 1 CPR – 0 for 3.

Incorrect: Straight-up; Over/Under; Against the Spread

The one disheartening aspect is that this is the second Thursday night game in a row in which the crowd missed all three categories. As I mentioned last week, the crowd usually misses all three in one or two games a week, so while I shouldn’t panic, it is always a little harder to take when it’s on a primetime game.

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The Cynthia Frelund Experience

Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) also missed across the board, but as I mentioned above, they predicted a razor-thin margin. While the Falcons ended up as the favorite, the gap was small enough with both the spread and the total that the crowd indicated that the wise move was to look elsewhere for value.

-Chris

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Recap

Week 13, Game 1 – Thanksgiving Hangover

The Thursday night game for Week 13 featured two teams who played on Thanksgiving, and I wonder if the crowd over-indexed the turkey day results in their predictions. The issue wasn’t that both crowds whiffed across the board; it’s that they predicted best-bets for both Washington -1 and under 46. Our crowd predicted Washington to win by 6 with a total score of 40, and Cynthia Frelund‘s crowd predicted Washington to win by 8 with a total score of 44 (the latter total would not qualify as a best bet).

On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys were beaten handily by the Chargers; Washington outlasted the Giants, but the game never seemed in much doubt. Since both games happened in isolation and one right after the other, it would make intuitive sense to me to conclude that the trend would continue.

Sadly for the crowds, the trend reversed itself quite dramatically.

The one caveat is that Washington experienced a confluence of bad luck events that contributed to the result. That fact doesn’t invalidate the results, of course, but it is a reminder that the wisdom of the crowd has the effect over a large number of games. I tweeted on Sunday that the crowd usually misses all 3 predictions for 1 or 2 games per week. In Week 12, the crowd missed all 3 in zero games; in Week 13, it missed on 3. So really, while I like to hope that the crowd will miss on 0 predictions for every game, the odds say that we should expect a week with more than two 0-fers for every week in which the crowd gets a prediction right on every game. The 0-fer games usually involve some outlier behavior, and Thursday night just happened to be one.

The Game 1 CPR – 0 for 3.

Incorrect: Straight-up; Over/Under; Against the Spread

I probably brought this result on the crowd since I was broadcasting their straight-up results through the season (still a respectable 116-61). Honestly, I was so hopeful that when the final result came through, it took me a while to process it (hence why this post is late). The crowd did just fine for the week, but I am always hopeful that Thursday will start the predictions off on the right foot.

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The Cynthia Frelund Experience

Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) also missed across the board. They were pretty in sync with our crowd, predicting a 26-18 victory for Washington compared to our 24-17. Only 14 out of 100 selected the Cowboys to win outright. One user predicted a 34-17 victory which is quite remarkable given how much of an outlier it was.

-Chris

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Recap

Week 11, Game 1 – The Mean Median

A few weeks ago a late set of predictions pushed the crowd to a last-second correct prediction of the Bills-Jets spread. Yesterday, the reverse happened. Most predictions favored Pittsburgh by 7 with one favoring them by 9. The crowd wisdom set the spread at just over the spread of 7. Nearing kickoff, a prediction favoring Pittsburgh by 3 brought the predicted spread under the line, thus favoring Tennessee as the pick. As a result, the final result for the crowd after the 40-17 victory by the Steelers was 1 for 3.

This brings up the subject of when to use median as opposed to the mean. When you’re dealing with large numbers that are relatively close in range, the average and the median are pretty close. However, when you have either a small sample size or a wide range, the median works better for understanding the crowd. The example I recall is you have 9 people sitting at a bar, and you want to understand the salary of each person in the crowd. Two people make $40,000 per year, three make $45,000, and four people make $50,000. So across all of the patrons, the mean and the median would be pretty close. If Kirk Cousins sits down at the end of the bar, though, the mean shoots up to around $2.5 million, but the mean barely moves.

On Thursday, the mean spread dropped from 7.5 to 6.6 by kickoff because of one prediction, while the mean dropped about 7.1 to 7.

I’ve said a few times already that, as our crowd grows in size, the effect of outliers on the mean will have less of an effect, so the difference between the mean and median will be small, but in these early days, we can still see a pretty big discrepancy. If we were to take our crowd wisdom to the sports book, we’d want to make sure that we had both data points in order to make the best-informed wager.

The Game 1 CPR – 1 for 3.

Correct: Straight-up; Incorrect: Over/Under; Against the Spread

I blame myself for the crowd result on Thursday night. I posted our prediction to Twitter in response to Ms. Frelund’s tweet for scores, and at the time our crowd had favored the Steelers, so that’s who I was rooting for. It wasn’t until the third quarter that I realized that our crowd flipped sides on the spread, and at that point Pittsburgh was already pulling away and I couldn’t bring them back. I’ll do better next time in my rooting influence.

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The Cynthia Frelund Experience

Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) also went 2-1. Some members of the crowd predicted some pretty big victories for the Steelers, most predicted relatively close games with Tennessee covering but still losing, and 25% picked the Titans to win outright but usually by a small margin. Ultimately, the average spread was about 5 (Tennessee covers) and the total stayed above the line of 44.5.

-Chris