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We are proud of our efforts here at TwoMinuteWarning, but we also recognize the hard work put in by many other bright minds who cover the NFL. We're well connected throughout the industry, and have a number of notable friends and/or longtime subscribers who will grace our guest handicapper page.
Hello, my name is Trace Fields. Most people know me as a college handicapper from my books sold at the
Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas. However, I am very involved in handicapping professional football. Over the years I have determined the two phrases that upset people the most when reading the reasoning behind betting a game are “power ratings” and “line value”. The constant gripe with power ratings from the public is the fact they are “useless”, that is, the power ratings that are publicly available. I agree, the ratings that are publicly available are useless beyond perhaps evaluating schedule strength. There are a number of reasons behind this. One of the primary reasons why public power ratings are not good enough to beat the pointspread is the mathematical model used to predict NFL results is not sophisticated enough to catch the dynamics of the sport. Most power rating models use final scores only and take no account of the dynamics of the sport. I can guarantee those power ratings will struggle and your lack of faith in the ratings is justified. However, your assumption to write off power ratings entirely is a poor decision. 99.9% of the people reading this will not be sophisticated enough to develop robust power ratings to model professional football. Simply put, most people do not have the mathematical skill set, the problem solving capabilities, and the raw data to develop power ratings that can beat the spread. That does not mean you can't put some of twominutewarning’s work to good use. There are many clues on this site that uncover the dynamics of professional football betting that make robust power rating methods successful. I would encourage you to read all the articles at twominutewarning.com and challenge yourself to find the hidden “line value” in understanding the dynamics of the game. I refuse to give you the answers but if you work hard enough you will find them.
Where Does Line Value Come From?
The primary methods of creating line value are performance value, anti-performance value, and injury value. For Joe Six Pack, performance value is the only type of value he can relate to because he is a “visual” handicapper. He has no mathematical methods, he only handicaps what he sees and hears. Of course, the lemmings want to be entertained so it is much easier for Fox and ESPN to talk about Warren Sapp’s “crib” than to give you the mathematical reasons behind San Diego’s impressive performances this year. For us, the people who want to make money betting, performance value wagers will often revolve around teams whose performance is much, much higher than last year’s performances. To put it mathematically, this year’s mean performances are much higher than last year’s. Now the question becomes are they doing it with smoke and mirrors with turnover ratio or does the yardage justify the performance?
Teams like St Louis that have performed at a playoff level recently rarely have performance value because their power ratings are so high compared to the mean power rating entering the season that it would take incredible performances week after week to play beyond their power rating. Think of it as a 7 foot high jumper constantly having to exceed his performances to get a gold medal, in our case it would be the cabbage. Can that 7 foot high jumper continually gain 2 inches to get the cabbage week after week when his physical limitations demand he is a 7 foot high jumper. A 7 foot high jumper might jump 4 inches higher once, but he is likely to revert back to his mean performance, not keep exceeding it. San Diego is a 5 foot high jumper that has made great gains with training to become a 7 foot high jumper that no one knew about prior to the season.
Anti-performance value is often built during the first four weeks of the season. Last year teams like Kansas City and Minnesota crushed opponents early. For the “visual” handicapper, he was already locked in by week 5: “How can these teams lose? Give me St Louis -6 on the road vs. the hapless Dolphins!” Teams that have great performances to start the season and were thought of as playoff teams often have negative line value. Teams that start the season with poor performances often have positive value by week 5. You see, oddsmakers are countering bettors by pumping up the ratings of the high flyers and downgrading the ratings of the bottom feeders. The visual handicapper falls right into the oddsmakers trap. To succeed one must do the opposite of oddsmakers realizing positive value is created with anti-performance value once you reach week 5. Anti-performance value is not sexy to the visual handicapper, this person could never bet on this year’s Miami Dolphins.
Injury value is more difficult to spot. A cluster injury with a team’s offensive line or secondary can alter performances from the team’s mean strength. Most people think of quarterback injuries. I agree with the contention quarterback injuries are very important, the NFL is a quarterback league meaning teams cannot just bear down and run the ball exclusively to win ball games unlike college football. The athletes on the defensive side of the ball are so talented the NFL has constantly had to change the rules to keep scoring up. Stopping the run allows defenses to put the onus on the quarterback to make plays knowing most quarterbacks in the NFL are not good enough to beat them week after week. To win with injury value you must track injuries and note from the box scores when a team’s performance is impacted or when a team’s performance is NOT impacted. If a high profile player like Culpepper goes out and the backup plays at the level of Culpepper while the perception is that he would fail can provide plenty of value.
There have been many good articles on twominutewarning.com so far from many talented people. I wanted to provide the big picture on power ratings and line value so you can start looking at team performance from a different perspective. You can direct questions to me in the forums at steamplay.com and be sure to take advantage of the concise college and pro football statistics provided there.
Two teams collide this week that illustrate anti-performance value on Monday night. I will wait to catch Dallas +7 over Philadelphia. Dallas has pointspread value from anti-performance, simply put; the Cowboys have been worked on the road this year. When you look at Dallas’ statistics at steamplay.com notice the team is solid expect in three categories: points scored, points allowed, and turnover margin. The Cowboys turnover margin is very poor contributing to their poor season performance so far. However, Dallas does have a veteran quarterback who has the experience to correct his mistakes. Remember in professional sports, teams are made up of college superstars, they know how to play the game. The challenge is to get cohesive and correct the turnover margin problem. This should not be much to ask with experienced players. Philadelphia, on the other hand, started the season with 5 big pointspread covers. However, their recent performance has been human losing the last three versus the spread and having their bubble burst at Pittsburgh. Using the statistics ate steamplay.com shows two red flags, Philadelphia runs for just 96 ypg and allows 131 ypg rushing which are not good figures to be laying with on the road. I spoke in the Stardust Invitational last week and mentioned it is okay to take underdogs with warts, but favorites with warts are good underdog wagers in discussing my bet of Texas A&M +12.5 over Oklahoma. Philadelphia is a favorite with warts that was exposed last week at Pittsburgh. That makes the underdog a sold wager here.
Guest Handicapper Archive:
Week 1: Dr. Bob
Week 2: Wunderdog
Week 3: Rick Needham
Week 4: Andy Iskoe
Week 5: Overlay
Week 6: Reed Lonteen
Week 7: Gene/Mti Sports Forecasting
Week 8: Armchair Analysis
Week 9: Scott Kellen