NFL Picks: Week 17 (updated)

Written by Football, Sports

The spread for the Buffalo game is -8.5.  Yeah.  A 5-10 team is an 8.5 point favorite over a 14-1 one.  So of course Gamblor thinks this spread is about the most ridiculous thing it’s ever seen and wants to bet the farm on the Bills.  Due to all the strange spreads, Week 17 is usually Gamblor’s most active week of the season, and this year is no exception.  Between this game, the Arizona game, and the Jets game, this is the second-most weighted picks Gamblor has ever made.  And I’m afraid to say it, but I don’t have the guts to follow through.  All told, Gamblor wants to put over $1200 on the line this week, and that’s a bit too rich for my blood.  I’ve scaled things down so the total money I’ve actually got on the line is just under $800.  But the bets below reflect what Gamblor would do if it had an unlimited budget.  I’ll be adding things up at the end of the week as though I had the stones, though I may have to put this week into the record books with an asterisk next to it.

Gamblor finally got things back together, prioritizing its bets very well and cracking its losing streak with a solid performance of 8-7-1 (going 7-4 in games where it had money on the line).  It turned a tidy profit of $70.88 on a weighted win percentage of 68.3%, which helped put a dent in the beating it’s been taking recently.  It’s a shame I didn’t get to recalculate the bets with updated spreads, because it would have managed to win a little bit more, as the bets on San Diego and Kansas City would have increased a bit.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the season, Gamblor is set up to profit the same way that the sportsbooks do.  I’m certainly dismayed at how it has done this season (though the total of its losses can be traced to just two games – both large flip bets against Green Bay), but I’m comforted by the fact that Vegas had a pretty lousy year as well.  Week 7 was regarded as one of the worst weeks for the sportsbooks in NFL history, and Week 14 also featured a series of lopsided bets that mostly went against the books.  There’s really no contest as to what was the worst bad beat of the year for Vegas, though – the incredible comeback of Drew Brees and the Saints over the Dolphins in Week 7.  This game was more significant than just a tough loss for the books on a heavily-backed favorite.  It capped off a week when favorites went 10-2-1 against the spread and an incredible number of parlays and teasers paid off.  But even though the Saints covered the spread in the first six games of the season, their 8-7 overall record against the spread and failure to cover on some very lopsided games has saved them from being the bane of the books’ existence this season.  That honor is shared almost equally between two teams: the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

(To watch this video, right-click and hit play)

flashfiller[kml_flashembed movie="http://earbuds.popdose.com/zack/Gambling/Nemesis.swf" width="360" height="240" wmode="transparent" play="false" loop="false"/]
flashfiller

One of the things that Vegas greatly depends on the fallacy of groupthink.  When everyone agrees that something is virtually guaranteed to happen, that’s when the universe will decide to throw out a wild card and the opposite occurs.  The sportbooks normally profit very handsomely off of this.  But Green Bay and Seattle have been consistently spitting in the face of this trend all season long.  With their incredibly well-tuned offense, Green Bay has faced a number of large spreads and has managed to cover at an incredible rate of 10-4-1.  And more importantly, in games where the action was shaded towards a particular side, Green Bay has really hammered the books – the more heavily backed side has prevailed in 11 of 14 contests.  For Seattle it’s been even worse – the more heavily backed team has covered the spread in 11 of the 15 games the Seahawks have played thus far – and the action has been even more lopsided.

To explain how expensive it’s been for the books to take bets on or against these teams, imagine a pool of 100 bettors, each wagering $10 on each Green Bay and Seattle game.  In week 3, for example, 93% of bettors favored Green Bay in their game against St. Louis, and just 4% of bettors favored the Seahawks (who were missing Hasselbeck due to an injury) in their game against Chicago.  At these rates, bettors would have invested $930 on Green Bay, $70 on St. Louis, $40 on Seattle, and $960 on Chicago.  Green Bay and Chicago both covered the spreads, which meant that after factoring in the juice, the books would have lost $833 on the Green Bay game ($873 paid out minus $40 kept) and $775 on the Seattle game ($845 paid out vs. $70 kept).  Extending this system through the entire season, Vegas would have ultimately lost almost $3700 over the course of the season due to the Packers, and an incredible $4800 due to the Seahawks.

These teams have also crippled Gamblor as well.  The computer has gone just 3-9 when it has bet money in Green Bay’s games, losing $548 at the hands of the Packers (primarily due to a pair of devastating losses on flip bets).  And against Seattle it has performed at an even more dismal rate of 2-10, losing $163 in the process.  Who has been good to poor Gamblor?  The Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins.  Between the two of them, they have performed at a rate of 18-9 when Gamblor has bet in their games, winning $193 for the computer over the course of the season. But who has been Gamblor’s biggest savior?  The Arizona Cardinals.  In the 10 games where Gamblor has wagered money on them, they’ve won 9 times – for total winnings of $123.  Which is why the big bet this weekend is so much more interesting.

This week, like some idiot fratboy that’s hitting up the ATM for the third time because he’s “pissed” at some indifferent blackjack dealer and wants to “get revenge,” Gamblor is ready to sink more money into yet another dubious bet against its nemesis, the Green Bay Packers.  Fortunately, it’s backing its strongest supporter thus far this season – the Arizona Cardinals.  I’m hoping that the computer saved the best for last, because it’s the second 95% bet of the season and the largest one I’ve ever placed using this system.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
at
BUFFALO BILLS
Gamblor’s Pick: Buffalo (-8.5)
Bet Amount: $523.77 (Flip)
WHY IT’S WRONG: The Colts are smarting from the backlash their fans leveled at them after they laid down against the Jets last week.  They’ll probably only play the starters for the first half once again, but they won’t phone it in this time.  Indianapolis shouldn’t have any trouble racking up a big lead in the first half and sitting on it in the second.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
at
CLEVELAND BROWNS
Gamblor’s Pick: Jacksonville (+1)
Bet Amount: $31.73 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: I’m glad that the books have Jacksonville down as an underdog here.  Honestly, what are the odds that Cleveland is going to win three games in a row?  They’ll play hard, but they are very firmly in the lower tier of the NFL, and they’re not at the same level as the Jaguars, who will be looking to prove this emphatically.
CHICAGO BEARS
at
DETROIT LIONS
Gamblor’s Pick: Detroit (+3)
Bet Amount: $19.73 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Everyone think that Chicago is going to keep rolling after their thrilling victory over the Vikings last week, and I can’t disagree.  Cutler will have been given the boost of confidence he needs, and Stafford is out.  My only concern is that the line is a trap.  This is one of those games that Vegas generally drools over, but in this case they (and Gamblor) can trust the Lions if they want.  I certainly don’t.
ATLANTA FALCONS
at
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Tampa Bay (+2.5)
Bet Amount: $15.26 (Flip)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Gamblor sees this spread as too low, and I see its point.  But Atlanta is going to want to end their season on a high note, even though the playoffs are out of reach.  Even though Freeman was solid against the Saints last week, he’s due to come back to earth once more.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
at
CAROLINA PANTHERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Carolina (+6)
Bet Amount: $8.14 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: This spread is just an estimate – I’ll post my thoughts later in the week when a line has been posted.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
at
HOUSTON TEXANS
Gamblor’s Pick: Houston (-8)
Bet Amount: None (Flip)
WHY I AGREE: Gamblor thinks this spread is just a little bit too big in favor of the Texans.  I agree wholeheartedly.  The last time New England was an underdog of 8 points or more was in 2001.  Yes.  Almost ten years ago.  Vegas is begging you to bet on the Patriots.  I wonder why?
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
at
SAINT LOUIS RAMS
Gamblor’s Pick: St. Louis (+7)
Bet Amount: $6.51 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: Standard issue hedge bet on the Rams, who have been pretty solid against the spread.  I’m fine with it, though I’m glad it’s on the low side.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS
at
MIAMI DOLPHINS
Gamblor’s Pick: Miami (+1.5)
Bet Amount: $19.53 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: It’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh throwing away their own playoff chances, especially after their comeback against Green Bay.  But Miami has a theoretical chance of making the playoffs too.  They won’t, but they won’t lie down either.  It’s hard for me to imagine how they’ll pull it off, but Week 17 is usually full of surprises and I think this will be the biggest one.
NEW YORK GIANTS
at
MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Gamblor’s Pick: New York Giants (+9)
Bet Amount: $26.04 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: It’s the last weekend, so I’m going to go balls-out and call for the shocker.  The Giants are going to win this game straight up.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
at
DENVER BRONCOS
Gamblor’s Pick: Denver (-13)
Bet Amount: $15.26 (Flip)
WHY IT’S WRONG: Denver won’t lose this game, but they’re not good enough to cover a spread this large.  They failed against the Raiders, and they’ll fail here, too.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
at
DALLAS COWBOYS
Gamblor’s Pick: Philadelphia (+3)
Bet Amount: $23.39 (Hedge)
WHY I AGREE: Philadelphia thrives as an underdog, and just because the Cowboys have had a pair of strong games in December this year doesn’t mean they’ve solved all their problems.  The Eagles have a great chance to steal the bye away from the Vikings, and they’ll make the most of their opportunity.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
at
ARIZONA CARDINALS
Gamblor’s Pick: Arizona (-3.5)
Bet Amount: $392.16 (Flip)
WHY I AGREE: This is more of a bet on the Giants than it is on the Cardinals.  If the Giants beat the Vikings in their early game, the Cardinals will play their starters.  If not, Leinart will get the nod.  It’s unlikely that the Packers will expend any sort of effort in this game; there’s a good chance they’ll be playing the Cardinals again next week so they won’t want to risk their star players or give away any of their strategy.  I’m not thrilled about laying down this bet, but the spread is actually what’s convincing me – if Vegas though Green Bay had a good shot at winning this game, they’d put the spread a lot lower.   I just hope Gamblor is finally right this time.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS
at
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Washington (+4)
Bet Amount: $4.27 (Flip)
WHY IT’S WRONG: It’s a bad idea to pick against the Chargers.  It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally on board.  These guys are good.
TENNESSEE TITANS
at
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Gamblor’s Pick: Tennessee (-4.5)
Bet Amount: $6.92 (Flip Conflict)
WHY I AGREE: I’ve been consistently picking against Gamblor when it comes to Seattle, but this week I agree with the computer.  Seattle’s got nothing left to play for, while Tennessee can salvage a .500 season after one of the most disastrous starts in franchise history.  Chris Johnson will get the ball enough times to get to 2000 yards, and on the way he’ll drag the Titans along to victory.
BALTIMORE RAVENS
at
OAKLAND RAIDERS
Gamblor’s Pick: Oakland (+10.5)
Bet Amount: $19.12 (Hedge)
WHY IT’S WRONG: This game will turn out exactly like the Jets game did – with the Raiders getting blown out in an empty Coliseum.
CINCINNATI BENGALS
at
NEW YORK JETS
Gamblor’s Pick: New York Jets (-10)
Bet Amount: $126.11 (Flip)
WHY I AGREE: This spread is ridiculous.  Once again, the books are begging bettors to put money on the Bengals.  I’m not sure why, but they’ve got their reasons.

flashfiller

Week Zack Gamblor Weighted Wins Weighted Picks Weighted Win % Profit
Win Lose Push Win Lose Push
1 7 9 9 7 1339 1727 77.5% $155.71
2 9 7 11 5 970 1292 75.1% $98.97
3 9 7 6 10 607 1552 39.1% -$61.75
4 8 6 5 9 288 963 29.9% -$70.33
5 6 8 6 8 655 1217 53.8% $15.46
6 7 7 8 6 625 1231 50.8% -$10.53
7 8 4 1 3 9 1 246 1161 21.2% -$127.43
8 3 10 9 7 709 1548 45.8% -$34.43
9 7 6 10 3 1152 1609 71.6% $119.67
10 7 8 8 7 660 2110 31.3% -$159.21
11 8 8 8 8 745 1614 46.2% -$29.81
12 7 8 1 6 9 1 496 1230 40.3% -$59.66
13 4 12 7 9 482 1037 46.5% -$20.55
14 8 8 7 9 581 1573 36.9% -$92.19
15 8 7 1 9 6 1 555 2582 21.5% -$302.82
16 8 7 1 8 7 1 744 1089 68.3% $70.58
Total 114 122 4 117 119 4 10854 23535 46.1% -$507.32

For legality purposes, this website does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.