Personal Note: I was out of town all of last week visiting family in Dallas and therefore couldn’t dedicate enough time to handicapping the games to make my usual weekly post. No one died. I ate well. The season-to-date record has been updated with results from the previous week and now we’re on to NFL Week #7 with a vengence.
I’ve been an NFL handicapper for 24 years, posting my picks publicly. Periodically, I’ve felt compelled to make adjustments to my handicapping methodology. If something’s not working, then try something else.
The NFL changes over time. New rules and the renewed emphasis on existing rules can severely impact the outcome of games. Virtually all rules changes now favor offenses, which means higher scoring games, and increased variance (i.e., games are less predictable). Moreover, climate controlled domes and rubber grass clearly favor offenses (perfect conditions for passing).
There are other factors which increase variance. Calling upon the judgment of referees makes outcomes tougher to predict. The quality of coaching and quarterbacking also changes, making results less foreseeable. Running backs were once the most important players on any team. Now, running backs are far less consequential than quarterbacks, receivers, and even key offensive linemen.
More passes per game and yards-per-completion have also helped to spike variance. This makes statistics- and trend-based handicapping somewhat obsolete. Higher variance reduces the value of key numbers and diminishes the effectiveness of teasers. Then, there’s the longer extra point, creating more misses — which also deducts the impact of key numbers. In short, even though we’re only a month into the schedule, this regular season has become a clear illustration of wildly unpredictable results, calling for some adjustments to handicapping and perhaps even a shifting focus on the types of bets we make.
None of this is accidental. Higher-scoring, less predictable games are more fun to watch (I hate high-scoring games). High-scoring, less predictable games are good for fantasy football. With the NFL going through some trouble of its own, with CTE image problems and a slip in television ratings, I believe the league has made a clear decision to create higher-scoring, less predictable games which will attract viewers. So, this is the landscape we must adjust to now.
Hence, I’ve incorporated several adjustments and shifted my focus on the types of bets I’ve made and recommend this week.