Week 7, Game 1 – The Best Bad Beat

I’ll come out and admit it to you now: I am a Raiders fan. I have been one since about 1991. And before you respond, remember that Raiders fans suffered through decade-long stretches: post-2003 Super Bowl through 2016 and from Bo Jackson until Jon Gruden and Rich Gannon. We have experienced plenty of pain over the last 25 years. There are teams that have experienced more, but not many.

So the result of the Thursday night game is obviously mixed for me. On the one hand, I was very sad that our crowd, who had predicted the Chiefs to win by a margin of 6.75 points, had the correct straight-up and ATS result ripped from their grasp on the very last play of the game. It was a mirror image of the Chiefs-Washington game in which the Chiefs covered on a meaningless touchdown to end the game. On the other hand, that ending was among the most remarkable of any game I can remember, and if you like the NFL for the football (as opposed to extracurricular reasons), I’m sure you enjoyed it as well.

In any case, I wanted to point out one reason why crowd size is important that came out of the Thursday night result. As it turns out, the 47 Over/Under line that we had at the beginning of the week dropped a half point before the game, so the crowd still got the over/under line correct. Still, take a look at how a late set of predictions affected the aggregate total.


With just a few predictions, the crowd went from comfortably above the Over/Under total to right on top of it. While the crowd was still correct, it goes to show how having a large, diversified crowd will protect the prediction from late movements. So please tell your friends to join us!

And of course, one other note is that this game was an outlier in a few ways. The Raiders scored far more than they had in the previous 3 weeks, and the total in the game will likely be one of the highest in Week 7. The WotC is most effective in predicting the majority of games as opposed to predicting outliers, so going 1 of 3 is not surprising in a game like this.

The Game 1 CPR – 1 for 3

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

The Chiefs giveth, and the Chiefs taketh away. As I mentioned, two weeks ago the Chiefs improbably covered the spread on the last play of the game. On Thursday, with no time left on the clock, the crowd had the straight-up, spread, and over/under results correct. But then the Chiefs committed two penalties on consecutive downs, giving the Raiders 2 extra chances to win. On the final attempt, the Raiders succeeded, and the over/under was the only result that came through.



The Cynthia Frelund Experience

Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) was also 1 of 3 for the night, getting the Over/Under correct in the end. One interesting note is that all of the predictions that had KC scoring 28 or more, only 1 out of 25 (@MarvinSimeon) predicted the Raiders to win, and Mr. Simeon had the margin at just 1. So not only was it an outlier in terms of the straight up result, it had the final margin exactly right. That is some wizardry, and it goes to show that the larger the crowd, the more likely you’ll have that fringe better represented.



Week 6, Game 1 – Binary vs. Precision

We encountered an interesting result from the Eagles-Panthers Thursday night game. In a poll, users picked the Eagles to win, but with scores, they picked the Panthers. So in this case, the binary was correct and the precision was not.

A quick reminder: we think the value of the wisdom of the crowd is in precision. There are several ways to determine where the public lands on either side of a given line, but over the course of a season, that number will be close to 50%. That’s how the sportsbooks make their money.

The value we believe that Crowdsourced Scores has is that it allows the contrarian view to have a bit more weight. An Eagles vote and a Panthers vote have the same value in a poll, but when there is a prediction of Eagles 28, Panthers 21 and another of Panthers 24, Eagles 23, the aggregate score leans Eagles. This becomes especially important when we consider the lines since the delta between the crowd prediction and the lines is how we define value.


The Game 1 CPR – 3 for 3

Correct: Straight-up, Against the Spread, Over/Under. Another Trifecta!

The chart above shows the how that crowd average stabilized over the week. Initial submissions favored the Eagles quite strongly, but the scores evened out as the game got closer. The final spread predicted by the crowd was Eagles +0.6, so it was basically a coin flip. We’re certainly happy that the crowd was on the right side, even if it’s just by a hair. Meanwhile, the total stayed fairly steady throughout. The final predicted total of 47 was not within a margin of safety (more than a touchdown), but it never came close to the line of 44.



The Cynthia Frelund Experience

Cynthia Frelund’s crowd (@cfrelund) was 2.5 for 3 tonight, getting the spread and the total correct, and I’m giving them a half point for getting it right with the poll. I cut off prediction collection at 50 total predictions, and it’s interesting to consider whether 50 is a satisfactory cutoff or whether it’s not a big enough sample size.

Additionally, there is a potential that Ms. Frelund’s audience is not quite as decentralized as we’d like. It’s possible that they are influenced by other users, by Cynthia herself, or something else entirely. When you have a prediction this close one way or the other, there are a lot of different ways that you can look at the data to see if you can improve your aggregation, and there is a lesson in here, for sure. It’s just not clear what it is. 🙂

Do you see a way for us to improve our data collection? Let us know in the comments!



2017 Week 5, Game 1 – The Wearing-a-Barrel Trifecta

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.