Sharing and comparing my method for trying to beat the spread

I live in the Midwest which is Big Ten country. Once conference play starts virtually every Big Ten game is televised in my region and I commit myself to try and watch all of them. I have three televisions set up as some games are being played at the same time. I have no bias or affiliation to any Big Ten team as I am a lifelong Notre Dame fan (I include ND games in my viewing schedule as well). My comments and reports are qualified only by my love of the game and an extreme commitment to watching and following Big Ten football.

Monday, August 25, 2014



I’m back for another season as long as circumstances allow. There will be a few adjustments/changes this season. As you can see, I’ve included “ATS” in the title. Like past seasons, I’ll compare my predictions to other on-line prognosticators with even more focus on the results, and even more focus on trying to beat the spread for a profit (FTC dollars, of course).
With the addition of two new teams this season, the comparisons will involve conference games only. I’ll still include Notre Dame in my predictions, but the results for ND games will be excluded in the comparisons with my competition (with the exception of the three games ND plays against Big Ten teams; those I’ll include). I’m also going to discard the nicknames I used to identify my competition as I now feel more comfortable with internet protocol. I’m also going to try to submit two smaller posts per week as opposed to one larger one. The first weekly post will include the usual weekly recaps of the Saturday’s games, except this season I’ll only review the games that I predicted the week prior and the write-ups will be a bit more concise. I’ll also post the results and standings of “the gang’s” predictions, broken down into the same categories as last year. I’ve decided to add “Straight Up” results as well. The second post of the week will be my predictions for the upcoming Saturday.

At the beginning of each season I Google “big ten football week 1 predictions” and try to find reporters/ bloggers/ analysts,-whatever you want to call them, that offer predicted scores for all Big Ten games. I compare the weekly (conference games only) predictions of these professionals along with my own predictions and maintain a ranking of our performances throughout the year. But since most avid college football fans can correctly predict the winner about 75% of the time, I make things more challenging by comparing the predictions ATS. The results and standings are broken down into four categories (five this season). The final standings from last season are listed under the “ATS Stats 2013” tab at the top of my posts. The categories are explained at the bottom of the stats page and will also be included each time I post the weekly standings.

The only category that really matters as it pertains to this season’s “ATS” project is the “play” category. Here is how I’ve defined the “play” category in the past:
PLAYS- I’m not promoting any type of illegal activity here but if you happened to be in a Las Vegas sports bar you might want to reconsider making a “play” on a game where your number varies from the spread by only a few points. I think a seven point or more differential should instill a reasonable amount of confidence. This category tracks such instances.
I’m still not promoting any illegal activity, but I am going to be direct in stating that the predictions that fall under this category are the ones that I would wager on if I lived in Vegas. That’s the system. Seven points or more differential, play it; less than seven, back off. So the “play” category will be ranked by who does the best financially. But since I don’t live in Vegas and can’t afford a weekly plane ticket to get there, and none of my chosen competitors live in Vegas, we’ll have to use “funny” money. You know, pretend type monopoly dollars.  I’ll call them FTC dollars. The “play” category standings will be featured in the “ATS” results section of my posts as the only one that matters in terms of winning this little contest of mine. The other categories will be considered as statistical analysis.

In order to maintain a level playing field of competition, I’ll be comparing only the conference games because I won’t be predicting any non-conference games, although my chosen competitors will. (Too many non-conference teams for me to keep up with now that there are 14 schedules to consider). And I am the only one who steps outside of the conference by predicting Notre Dame games (except for week 1). I’ll list my Notre Dame results separately.

As I pointed out last year, my method is to make my predictions on Sunday, before I look at the spreads, to keep from being influenced subconsciously. As far as I know, none of the other contestants do this. Therefore I make one disclaimer: If a report comes out during the week (after Sunday) that there is an issue involving the starting quarterback (an injury I might not have known about) or the coach (health issues, scandal, etc.), I won’t count the game.  Occasionally I might predict a tie, which is the equivalent of a “pick em”. 

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