Monday, October 13, 2014

Picked Apart

After six weeks of the NFL football season, I’m feeling as though I’ve been thoroughly picked apart as far as trying to pick winners in the Pigskin Pick’em contest goes.

A month ago I was cheerily writing here about getting an average of two out of three games correct and how that wasn’t too bad, but by now I’ve fallen off that pace considerably and am already in a desperate spot in the pool near the bottom and a dozen games out of the lead just over a third of the way into the campaign.

While yesterday didn’t go well at all for me, last week was even more difficult to get through after losing three early games in which the teams I’d picked all blew big leads. Even worse, all three were meaningful games as far as the pool was concerned, for which the picks were evenly divided and thus getting them right or wrong affected one’s standing more significantly.

Below are the win probability graphs for those three games as calculated by Advanced Football Analytics where I’ll sometimes find myself much as when playing online poker I would end up over at Two Dimes after suffering an improbably bad beat -- kind of a masochistic seeking out of an answer to the question “How bad was that, really?”

That’s right -- I had Chicago, Tennessee, and Detroit, all of whom had a WP of 80% or better in the fourth quarter of their games only to lose. The Titans were up 28-3 at home versus Cleveland before blowing their game 29-28. I also had Houston beating Dallas in the early game a week ago, and the Cowboys won in overtime, completing a four-game sweep of close ones going the wrong way.

This week’s games featured fewer heartbreaks but a lot of surprises (at least for me), thus hurtling me even further down the leaderboard in the pool. Like can happen in poker after enduring a long stretch of losing, I’ve now entered a zone in which I’m doubting my ability to play this game at all. Sure, I might have won at it in the past, but was it all just dumb luck?

I take a little bit of comfort knowing that I’m not gambling serious cabbage on NFL football -- indeed, I don’t bet on games at all. For those who are, I have great sympathy, especially after yesterday saw not one but two games end with “pick-6” interception returns for TDs that helped teams (Denver and Arizona) cover spreads during the final seconds.

Speaking of, check out Nolan Dalla’s post today titled “Anatomy of an NFL Apocalypse” in which he spells out in profanity-laced detail the “impalement of the heart, mind, and wallet” that was NFL football yesterday.

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