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The Patriots are 10-3 But Just 6-7 Against the Spread

by Chase Stuart on December 13, 2013

in Checkdowns, Trivia, Vegas

If you look at the Patriots’ PFR page, you’ll see that the Patriots are a 10-3team that’s played like an 8-5 team that has a 6-7 record against the spread. I wondered how often a team with such a good record was below average against the spread. The answer: pretty frequently. Which I suppose isn’t too surprising, since Vegas doesn’t like to make it so easy to win money that all you need to do is pick winners.

New England has mirrored its ancestors from 35 years ago, who also started 10-3 but posted a 7-6 record against the spread. The table below shows all teams from 1978 to 2012, excluding the strike years, to win at least 3 more games outright through 13 weeks than against the spread. In an expected turn of events, the top 4 teams on the list all made the Super Bowl in the prior year. That leads to being favored frequently, and if you win enough close games, you’ll make this list.

Year
Tm
Record
Vegas
Win%
Cover%
Diff
1986chi11-2-04-9-00.8460.3080.538
2000oti10-3-04-9-00.7690.3080.462
1997gnb10-3-03-8-20.7690.3080.462
1990sfo12-1-06-7-00.9230.4620.462
1998sfo10-3-04-8-10.7690.3460.423
2009nor13-0-08-5-010.6150.385
1986nwe10-3-05-8-00.7690.3850.385
1980pit8-5-03-10-00.6150.2310.385
1979dal8-5-03-10-00.6150.2310.385
1978ram10-3-04-7-20.7690.3850.385
2010nor10-3-05-7-10.7690.4230.346
2002sfo9-4-04-8-10.6920.3460.346
1999jax12-1-07-5-10.9230.5770.346
1997sfo11-2-06-6-10.8460.50.346
1978pit11-2-06-6-10.8460.50.346
2012atl11-2-07-6-00.8460.5380.308
2011pit10-3-06-7-00.7690.4620.308
2011gnb13-0-09-4-010.6920.308
2009clt13-0-09-4-010.6920.308
2004atl10-3-06-7-00.7690.4620.308
2002gnb10-3-06-7-00.7690.4620.308
2002pit7-5-13-9-10.5770.2690.308
1998den13-0-09-4-010.6920.308
1992sfo11-2-07-6-00.8460.5380.308
1991buf11-2-07-6-00.8460.5380.308
1986nyj10-3-06-7-00.7690.4620.308
1986nyg11-2-06-5-20.8460.5380.308
1986was11-2-07-6-00.8460.5380.308
1978nwe10-3-06-7-00.7690.4620.308
1978dal9-4-05-8-00.6920.3850.308
2012rav9-4-05-7-10.6920.4230.269
2008den8-5-04-8-10.6150.3460.269
2008clt9-4-05-7-10.6920.4230.269
2006sea8-5-04-8-10.6150.3460.269
2001ram11-2-07-5-10.8460.5770.269
2000ram8-5-04-8-10.6150.3460.269
1999min7-6-03-9-10.5380.2690.269
1984rai9-4-05-7-10.6920.4230.269
1978oti9-4-05-7-10.6920.4230.269
2012htx11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
2011nwe10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
2010phi9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
2009sdg10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
2009cin9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
2008pit10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
2008min8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
2007dal12-1-09-4-00.9230.6920.231
2007clt11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
2007nwe13-0-010-3-010.7690.231
2006clt10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
2006den7-6-04-9-00.5380.3080.231
2006sdg11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
2005clt13-0-010-3-010.7690.231
2004phi12-1-09-4-00.9230.6920.231
2004pit12-1-09-4-00.9230.6920.231
2003car8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
2003kan11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
2002clt8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
2002nwe8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
2001sfo10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
2000min11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
1999oti10-3-06-5-20.7690.5380.231
1999sea8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1998min12-1-09-4-00.9230.6920.231
1997nwe8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1997den11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
1996sfo10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
1996gnb10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
1996nwe9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1996kan9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1995kan11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
1995chi7-6-04-9-00.5380.3080.231
1995sfo9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1994min8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1994dal11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
1993buf9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1993mia9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1992was8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1992mia8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1992dal11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
1992min9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1991kan8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1991nyg7-6-04-9-00.5380.3080.231
1988nyg8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1988was6-7-03-10-00.4620.2310.231
1988clt7-6-04-9-00.5380.3080.231
1986cin8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1984mia12-1-09-4-00.9230.6920.231
1984nyg8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1983dal11-2-08-5-00.8460.6150.231
1981dal10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
1981buf8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231
1980oti8-5-04-7-20.6150.3850.231
1980sdg9-4-06-7-00.6920.4620.231
1979sdg10-3-06-5-20.7690.5380.231
1979pit10-3-07-6-00.7690.5380.231
1978rai8-5-05-8-00.6150.3850.231

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

George December 14, 2013 at 8:46 am

Nice post. Think it’s very true about what you said that it shouldn’t be down to just being able to pick teams that win (what I personally like is trying to find the undervalued team, or the team where the line hasn’t caught up to them yet). The Patriots game shocked me last week though. I liked it the most out of any games last week in terms of percentage chance to win (91% unweighted, 97% weighted) and in terms of chance to cover (64% unweighted, 82% weighted – which was virtually similar to my second favourite ATS pick last week Carolina 62 and 81%). The only thing that rated higher in terms of chance to win or cover was Kansas City unweighted at 71% to cover. The weather was fine for the game and they had Gronk for a large portion of the game, and were just getting comfortably beaten. I’ve just kind of accepted that I am not seeing things quite clearly at the moment and some things just don’t make sense. I accept the Browns have a solid defence but it just should’t have been that close given the relative strength of both teams (or at least I don’t think that it should have been).

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Ty December 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm

George: I’m not sure how you were able to get the Patriots as a 97% unweighted chance, even against Cleveland. If you are using the cumulative stats, then you might have overvalued the Patriots defense (which has been decimated by injuries). Their offense has been able to pick up (but going forward, that is uncertain). Cleveland has at worst, an average defense, and while Campbell isn’t good (and probably not quite average), he is better than Weeden (who is replacement level). I think for a team to have a 97% chance of winning, it would have to be something like Broncos versus Jaguars (early in the season), and I’m not sure if that would be 97% (it would likely be about 90%, though).

Reply

George December 14, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Ty – I’ll put my cards completely on the table, I love the sport but I also like to have an opinion and have occasionally gambled now and again (as we can in the UK – never anything serious though). I’ve always had an opinion (since I was about 8), but could never put a firm number on it until I read Mathletics by Wayne Winston, and started using Microsoft Excel’s Solver application to solve a least squares problem (which encouraged me to spend far too much time on Microsoft Excel deriving ratings for various sports or getting it to do things I couldn’t do on paper – or understand properly).

Basically I’ve been keen to test those ratings and am using Wagerminds like a sandbox environment at the moment. This is my first season of applying it to the NFL and it hadn’t been wonderfully successful, so I set up my weighted sheet for the first time last week (have been really busy with other things) to see if it could identify what I have missed/was missing. I’m using the principles of Stern (“On the Probability of Winning a Football Game” 1991) and am assuming the NFL results are normally distributed (in terms of standard deviation of error from a prediction).

In defence of my 97% number (Massey had them at 94% and he understand what he is doing and I usually don’t), this was based on weighting the previous weeks games at 95%, the week before’s games at 95% squared and so on. I also take a live standard deviation number (which last week was 10.58, which is below Stern’s 13.86, and Neil worked out an average over 25 years from memory of about 13.4).

On the basis of that weighting I am expecting the fact that the Browns got unexpectedly turned over by Jacksonville the previous week (the numbers were on the wrong side of that as well), probably under-rated them by a couple of points and I am expecting that the Denver win (probably) off-set the unexpectedly close game between the Patriots and the Texans (so they were probably a couple of points higher than they should have been).

The numbers I had going into last week, were New England, 6.16 (above average), Cleveland -11.45 and Home Field Advantage of around 3 (sorry didn’t note the exact number down). This week taking into account the effect of last week we have New England at 2.71 (big drop and in reality you could probably drop at least another 3 off of that for the loss of Gronk), Cleveland -5.79 (big leap as they were significantly better than expected) and a HFA of 4.08.

In terms of rankings of their groups I have New England 14th (with their offence 3rd and their defence 18th) and Cleveland 23rd (with their offence 23rd and their defence 24th).

Hopefully that gives you a little bit of an idea of how I have come up with those numbers (and you can poke holes in one or two things about them straight away – e.g. it doesn’t take account for injuries or replacements, for instances how much of my Browns number last week was built up on Brandon Weeden etc.).

Incidentally re: the Broncos vs the Jags from earlier in the season, I’m sure I posted it up on here but unweighted (as there wasn’t enough games in the season at that point) I had that at 99%.

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