Whether you're a long-term reader or this is your first look at Upset Watch, this is your chance to get the best underdog picks every week of the NFL season.
How does it work?
Every week we use a combination of historical and current NFL data trends to pick the underdogs most likely to upset the odds.
Our database tracks how well teams are really performing. If a team is playing well but not having much luck, you'll know about it first. If a team is bad, but often plays well against teams similar to their next opponent, you'll be ahead of the crowd.
Underdogs are harder to pick, and therefore you'll get better odds when wagering on them.
If you want to win picking favorites, you have to be good - better than almost any of the thousands of experts we track. Favorites have such a low yield, particularly as the season wears on, that if you only picked favorites, you'd need to get 70% of your picks right to make any profit at all, and more like 80% to make any kind of major profit.
On the other hand, betting on underdogs, you can get as few as 40% of your picks right and make a profit.
Why Upset Watch?
Last season we hit on 53% of our underdog picks, ensuring a huge margin of profit. Betting $100 on each of our picks over the season, you'd have made a profit of over $3,000, a Return on your investment of over 24%.
We hit on huge underdogs, and combined into parlays and round robins, you can add even bigger gains if you bet smart and get some parlay wins.
On top of that, you gain insight and understanding of teams, their strengths, weaknesses, and data trends in their favor or against them.
It's really your one-stop shop for every NFL week, and it's trusted by thousands of existing subscribers.
How do I get access?
Simple - become a Pro member. It's just $7.99 a month or $29.99 for a whole year. In fact, sign up now using the code PRESEASON and you'll get 15% off for as long as your subscription is active.
Yes. This season we'll be launching complimentary stats to Upset Watch. The first of these is coming very soon on both web and app: Underdog Rankings.
Put simply, Underdog rankings will let you see which experts have the best record when picking underdogs. If someone picks 30 underdogs each season, and hits on 20 of them, you're going to want to follow this person's advice. If they only hit on 5? Maybe take their picks with a hefty dose of skepticism.
It's another statistical way to win with Pickwatch.
Regulars will know that my first port of call is to understand the context of each week. For example, week 1 represents a bigger opportunity to win than say, week 8, because we know the teams we're picking. You can expect around 6 teams to win in the first week, whereas by week 8, there will be just 3.1 average underdog winners.
Why do we do this? To put it in simple terms, if you pick 16 favorites to win, you're likely to go 10-6 at best. Last season, 9 underdogs won in week 1, and because we had picked 6 to win, we hit 5 underdogs, a huge start to our season.
So what else matters? Well, the size of the spread for one thing. Underdogs are underdogs for a reason most of the time, particularly big underdogs. Whether it's their record, their stats or just the eye-test, the spread reflects how many bettors are backing that team.
Last season, only 8 of the 50 teams who faced a spread of +10 or higher won - and none won before week 8. Conversely, teams facing +3 or less won 50% of the time, so we ensure that we focus more on those teams facing spreads that indicate the two teams are closer matched, where success is more frequent.
Home and Road winners
64% of those low-spread winners were actually road teams. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Bettors notoriously gravitate towards home teams in close games, erroneously believing that the home crowd confers an advantage.
This isn't true and hasn't been for some time. Last season, the overall win percentage for NFL teams at home was just 51.7%, so forget the notion that home teams win to any meaningful degree more than road teams. It's important that we have an open mind when we look at road underdogs, and even more so, those who face a small spread.
This one will be making it's way onto your screens as data you can explore yourself later this season, but let me explain how it works.
Once we have an idea of roughly how many underdogs are likely to win, we then need to select which teams have the best chance. To do so, we employ a weighted system that tracks whether teams play better or worse than their opponent's average performance.
For example, the Patriots give up just 187 yards passing per game on average. If the Bengals throw for 250 yards against them, that performance indicates that they have outperformed the Patriots defense.
Flip that round, and the same 250 yard day against the Ravens - who allow over 278 yards per game through the air - is actually less than other offenses manage.
By tracking each team throughout the season, not only do we build up a picture of each team's strengths and weaknesses, but we also understand which teams they are likely to play well against.
For example, last season, the 49ers fared much better against teams with a weak run defense. The teams they beat had an average ranking against the run of just 20th, whereas the teams they lost to were on average, top 10 defenses on the ground.
So if the 49ers were to be facing a top 5 run defense, we understand that this is something the 49ers have struggled against, and can use this information to guide our picks.
Now on with the picks for week one:
FREE PICK (As it's week one, here's a taste of what you get from each pick). This isn't an underdog pick, but an example of the detail you get with Upset Watch.
New England Patriots (2021: 10-7)
Offensive Line (3rd)
Pass Defense (3rd)
Red Zone Offense (7th)
Run Defense (23rd)
Pass Rush (18th)
Bill Belichick enters his 7,500th season as Patriots coach and it's an exciting time for those who've followed him since his time in Ancient Egypt.
Of all Belichick's conjuring jobs, last year was the best. Remember in 2020, Cam Newton and the Patriots looked a mess, with little quality of note on either side of the ball. Belichick crafted a 10-win playoff season with the addition of a rookie QB (Mac Jones) and a defense that was the best in the league for much of the year.
This season they've lost OC Josh McDaniels (LV, Head Coach) and that will mean a big shift for Jones, who impressed under Mcdaniels's tutelage. They've lost Center Ted Karras which is a blow, and CB J.C. Jackson who had 8 interceptions in their formidable secondary. That's a blow that they've tried to address via the draft, but their first round pick was a Guard (Cole Strange) and it'll be on the offensive and defensive lines that this team wins and loses.
Miami Dolphins (2021: 9-8)
Run Defense (12th)
Pass Rush (4th)
Red Zone Defense (7th)
Run Offense (28th)
Offensive Line (21st)
The Dolphins represent an interesting favorite in this game. Their 2021 season was a tale of two halves, going 1-7 in the first 8 games, and 8-1 in the last 9.
As you may expect from such a lop-sided campaign, the Dolphins eventually averaged out in almost every meaningful category. Their one standout was the defensive line which contributed heavily towards their success, as they went from averaging 1.4 sacks over the first half of the season, to 4 per game over that back stretch.
Of note, the Dolphins infamously fired coach Brian Flores, who subsequently accused owner Stephen Ross of trying to tank in 2020. Flores is an underrated coach who we will sadly likely not see again in the NFL, which is even more frustrating when you consider Ross was largely at fault in the exact ways he said.
What does this mean? It means Mike McDaniel will come in and try to bump-start an offense that misfired badly towards the end of the season. Tua Tagovailoa enters a make-or-break year with Tyreek Hill as a new deep threat. If Tua can't get Hill, the league's most effective WR on his day, into good spots, McDaniel will almost certainly bail on him.
Upset Watch Pick
The Dolphins' 'favorite' status in this game is guided by being at home, and sweeping the Patriots in 2021.
I'm certainly enthused about Tua in a better offensive scheme, but he was a significant under-performer last season, and not all of that can be attributed to the system. In their last 4 games, the Dolphins averaged almost 70 passing yards fewer than par against the Jets, Saints, Titans and Patriots defenses, but they did find a way to win those games.
McDaniel will get the Dolphins running, that much I am sure of, and it is very much the key to the Dolphins beating New England, but I am not sure it's going to be as simple as just plugging Chase Edmonds in. The Dolphins have some parts, but Tua will need to play better if they want to win.
The big question is whether the Patriots D can carry on it's good form into 2022. I think this is a bad fit for them though, and the D-line in particular was not a major strength. To beat the new Dolphins, I think teams will need to stop the run (New England's worst defensive aspect) and get to the QB (New England's other defensive weakness). I haven't seen a significant improvement in the New England roster to suggest a big change, and losing the OC of a rookie QB is never a great thing.
I'm on the fence about New England this season, and I'm going to remain so until we see how they adjust and beat a team that had their number in 2021.
Pick: Dolphins to win and cover (-190)