5 upsets resulted in 102 points out of 136 possible. Summary stats are here
Picks and predicted upset distributions for the final week of the season are posted at
Confidence Favorite WinProb Underdog
16 Dallas 80.6% Washington
15 New Orleans 80.6% Tampa Bay
14 Minnesota 80.6% Seattle
13 New England 79.6% New York J
12 Pittsburgh 78.4% Kansas City
11 Cincinnati 77.3% Oakland
10 Arizona 76.1% St Louis
9 Jacksonville 74.9% Buffalo
8 New York G 69.6% Atlanta
7 Green Bay 69.6% San Francisco
6 Houston 64.0% Tennessee
5 Detroit 61.0% Cleveland
4 Carolina 59.5% Miami
3 Philadelphia 59.5% Chicago
2 San Diego 58.0% Denver
1 Baltimore 51.8% Indianapolis
Expected Points 102
Likely range 76 to 128
Probability of zero upsets 0.29%
Likely range 2 to 8
6 upsets again resulted in 86 points, bringing the YTD total to 827.
Last week the predictions were for 44 points and 3 upsets and the results were 42 points and 3 upsets.
This week looks to shape up quite similarly
Confidence Favorite WinProb Underdog
10 Ohio St 82.4% Michigan
9 BYU 78.4% Air Force
8 Georgia 73.6% Kentucky
7 Stanford 72.3% California
6 Oklahoma 69.1% Texas Tech
5 Notre Dame 68.3% Connecticut
4 Oregon 66.3% Arizona
3 Mississippi 61.0% LSU
2 Boston College 61.0% North Carolina
1 Penn State 59.0% Michigan St
Expected Points 40
Likely range 26 to 54
Probability of zero upsets 2.36%
Predicted Upset Distribution
Three upsets (Stanford over USC, 7 points, UCF over Houston, 5 points, and North Carolina over Miami, 1 point) amounted to 7 correct for 42 points, bringing the YTD total to 475 points.ESPN College Pickem
The only way the demographics of your pool would not matter would be if all other participants picked teams at random. If that were the case, you could just pick all the favorites all the time. You’d win all the season-ending payouts and more weekly payouts than anyone else.
But they don’t pick at random, do they? They mostly pick favorites, sprinkling in a few upsets here and there. That creates an opportunity for you, at least in terms of winning more weekly payouts than anyone else.
By picking mostly favorites most of the time, the other participants are behaving rationally as individuals but irrationally as a group. Take a look at some of the weaker favorites — those whose Win Probabilities are less than 70% — and you’ll notice that frequently the percentage of participants who picked them was still quite high, maybe over 90%. If the Win Probabilities are accurate, those favorites might lose between one third and half the time but when they do almost nobody in your pool will reap the benefit. So why don’t you reap the benefit?
The trick is threefold: 1) Forecast the number of participants in your pool who will pick each team, 2) identify underbet teams relative to their win probabilities, and 3) simulate game/pool outcomes thousands of times to determine the optimal number of underbet teams to pick in your pool. Those form the basis of Weekly Payout Maximizer recommendations.
The right number changes from week to week, according to the win probabilities and fan pick forecasts. For Regular scoring pools it’s also different from the right number for Confidence pools.
Whenever I see anyone selling football picks, I ask myself, what’s in it for them? If someone “knows” which underdogs will win, they’d make a lot more money by keeping the knowledge to themselves and wagering in Las Vegas. Conclusion: if anybody selling upset predictions really believed their own predictions, they wouldn’t be selling them to you!
As for Win Probabilities, all the best ones are free, so why would you pay for something inferior? Sagarin’s indexes have been available on USA Today’s website since the mid 1990s, Brian Burke’s estimates are published on the New York Times website. That’s just to name a few. Plenty of others are available, free of charge, on the web and in newspapers. Even if you didn’t look at any of those, you could just sort teams by their Las Vegas point spread, also widely available for free.
My win probabilities are derived from Vegas betting lines. I offer them as a convenience to visitors and as evidence that I know what I’m talking about.
The fact is win probabilities are necessary, but not sufficient, information for winning a football pool. To win a pool you need to combine the Win Probabilities with game theory pertaining to other participants’ picks. The demographics of your pool matter!