Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The More Cowbell System

I’ve mentioned here a couple of times how I’m participating in an NFL pool this year, Pauly’s Pub. The league name comes from its commissioner, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Pauly. It’s a straight-up “pick ’em” pool -- meaning everyone picks winners for all the games (i.e., not against the spread).

I started the year slowly with my entry -- “More Cowbell” -- then had a nice stretch of four weeks or so during which I got back into contention. However, with three weeks to go I am now a longshot to make the money (i.e., the top four spots out of 40). I’m currently tied for eighth, but am five games behind the two teams tied for third. Would be remarkable somehow for me to gain that much ground over the last 48 games, I think.

Overall this year I’ve picked 143 of 208 games correctly. That’s just 68.75% overall, although better than almost 96% of the tens of thousands participating in ESPN’s Pigskin Pick’em game. My worst week was Week 7, when I only picked a miserable 7 of 14 correctly. My best came the following Week 8, when I chose the right team in 11 of 13 games.

Kind of interesting to see that of all of entries on ESPN, the absolute best anyone has done is 158. That’s basically just getting one more correct per week than I have. The top entry in Pauly’s Pub, “Fear the Ginger,” a.k.a. Lance Bradley (Bluff Magazine Editor-in-Chief), has hit an impressive 155. He appears to have locked the sucker up, as our buddy Julius Goat (“Some Jive-Ass Slippers”) is in a distant second with 149.

Know Your GoatWe’re all searching for a system, I suppose. Except for those who have already discovered theirs. For example, if I understood a series of tweets Mr. Goat sent out last week correctly, he makes his picks following a complicated rubric based on the relative fear induced by team names.

Topping the list as the least threatening names (according to JG) are the Browns (“‘The Browns In the Superbowl’ sounds like a euphemism. Not a good sign”), the Cardinals (“only intimidating if you are a seed”), and the Chargers (“once was much stronger, but in the age of cell phones and laptops it has downgraded to wussy accessory”). Search his Twitter timeline for more. (And for even more grins, start following.)

I’m not much for gambling on sports, really. Not too long ago I wrote a post here called “Confessions of a Non-Gambler” in which I explained how poker actually tended to diminish rather than encourage whatever small urge I might have had to wander over to the sports book and place a bet. The utter lack of control -- which I know some enjoy immensely -- is what tends to make sports betting less fun for me.

That said, I’m digging having a rooting interest in every single game this year. I’m an NFL fan anyway, and can thus be engaged no matter who is playing or what the situation. But this year I’m finding myself living or dying with every friggin’ game. Whether I miraculously make the cash or not, the increased fun I’ve had following games was most certainly worth more than the modest entry fee.

Thus, relatively inconsequential games like that Detroit-Cleveland epic from Week 11 in which the Browns (whom I picked) lost on the last play 38-37 now stand out in my mind as the most memorable of the year. So do other, more significant games like that New England-Indianapolis debacle from Week 10 in which Belichick crazily went for that fourth down late. (Had the Pats there, I did.)

But I’ve won my share of games on last-second plays, too. Much like the percentages in poker, such things tend to even out, I guess.

Not surprisingly, I’ve done best when trying to predict games involving the league’s worst teams. Have only missed picking games involving the St. Louis Rams (1-12) and Detroit Lions (2-11) a single time all year. (And, as mentioned, could’ve been perfect with Detroit thus far if not for that game in which they beat the Euphemisms.) Also doing well with the two remaining undefeated teams, the Indianapolis Colts (13-0) and New Orleans Saints (13-0), having only picked against them twice each. Of course, I assume most everyone has done well with those teams.

Meanwhile, I’ve guessed incorrectly seven times when picking games involving the surprising Cincinnati Bengals (9-4), the uneven Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6), and the disappointing Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7). I also have missed seven games involving the hard-to-figure San Francisco 49ers (6-7), although one of those was a Thursday game I forgot to pick. (Did get the Niners right last night, though. Woot!)

So, fellow NFL prognosticators... how have you done? Let me know. Meanwhile, I have some injury reports to study.

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Blogger Dr. Pauly said...

Nice comeback. Anything can happen the last weeks of the season!

12/15/2009 10:00 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

But wait, the Lions WON that game against the Euphemisms on the last play, with their QB Stafford jumping off the ground and running in with a separated shoulder to win it.

12/19/2009 11:16 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Haha, thanks Kelly. I meant to say I picked the Browns in that one. (Dadgummit, missed it again!) Indeed, I was one of the few in the pool that did go with Clev. in that one, if I recall....

(I fixed the post.)

12/19/2009 12:31 PM  

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