Your weekly dose of sports betting tips and news, every Saturday at 10am Eastern.
NFL game changes – With so many COVID-19 outbreaks, the NFL has had to reschedule a few games:
- Las Vegas at Cleveland will now be at 5:00p.m. ET on Monday.
- Washington at Philadelphia will now be at 7:00p.m. ET on Tuesday.
- Seattle at L.A. Rams will now be at 7:00p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Per ESPN.com, 24 Browns players have either tested positive or were already on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Rams have 29 in the protocol and Washington has 23.
The follow-up question in this situation is how to bet these games. We’ve talked before about how bettors prefer more information than less. However, that temptation to wait means the lines do get sharper. Adam Burke offers one solution.
College football bowl betting – The Football Analytics Show podcast featured two fantastic guests to get you ready for bowl season.
- Parker Fleming (@statsowar) discussed his college football model and how it blends success rate and explosiveness to predict outcomes.
- Collin Wilson of The Action Network described his research into how finishing drives was a critical factor in which teams tend to cover.
Both episodes also featured an extensive discussion of the college football playoff semi-final games and other bowl bets. Two of the best episodes this season.
The Power Rank’s bowl predictions were also discussed in these episodes.
Injuries – This list is double checked with the ESPN NFL injuries page.
- Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson didn’t practice this week due to an ankle sprain and is questionable against Green Bay.
- Buffalo QB Josh Allen has a toe issue that he played through against Tampa Bay last week. He is no longer listed on the ESPN injuries page, so it looks like he will play against Carolina.
- Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield and his backup in Case Keenum are on the COVID lists.
- New York Giants QB Daniel Jones will not play against Dallas. Mike Glennon will start.
- Washington QBs Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen are both out because of positive COVID tests. Washington signed Garrett Gilbert off of New England’s practice squad, and he might start against Philadelphia.
- Chicago QB Andy Dalton is on the COVID-19 list.
- Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts is still nursing an ankle injury but will have a couple of extra days to try and recover with his game’s postponement.
- Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett will forgo their game against Michigan State in the Peach Bowl.
Why Many Don’t Listen to Models – Hopefully this nugget is the last talking point you’ll read about the Chargers’ fourth-down decision making (NARRATOR: It won’t be). Critics of this approach often use the trope: games are not played on spreadsheets or aren’t just like Madden video games.
The book “Noise” by Daniel Kahneman studied this phenomenon. It turns out, people are likely to follow models in the beginning, but the moment a model lets them down, they stray away.
A model can still be overall successful more often than not, but one or two examples can lead to throwing away the whole thing. It’s why conventional wisdom points to Bill Belichick’s decision against Peyton Manning as reason why analytics don’t work, even though similar situations often work out.
As for Thursday, Brandon Staley got it right every single time.
Urban Meyer Fired – In the middle of the night on the east coast, Jacksonville announced they were firing their head coach. Interestingly, the line for Sunday’s game against Houston moved in the Jaguars’ favor, from -3 to -4.5 in several places.
This season, we’ve seen several examples of teams not having their head coach and it not impacting the result (e.g. Dallas’ Mike McCarthy against New Orleans and Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury against Cleveland). There was even Las Vegas enduring the hurtful language and subsequent firing of Jon Gruden, only to win the following game.
One caveat to these instances: all of these teams have been in the playoff hunt at some point during the season. The Jaguars are not. Was it because Meyer held them back, or are their problems more intrinsic? The Power Rank does not see value as the NFL model favors Jacksonville by 4.
Closing Line (No) Value – Since the dawn of time, bettors have been taught to bet earlier than later because lines are normally less sharp when they’re posted than just before a game begins. But @greerreNFL has noticed an unusual trend this NFL season: lines have been sharper earlier than later in the week.
Why is this happening? I offer some thoughts on the Covering the Spread podcast (20:55).
High School Football – Texas high school football is enjoying its state championship week. You may have no attachments to the state or even that level of football, but the highlights are no less enjoyable. Take this play from the 4A DI title game between Stephenville and Austin LBJ.
Three more games conclude championship week Saturday.
Data driven betting information
These nuggets were sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter. This is a free service that strives to be:
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