Welcome to Upset Watch week 2
Last week was a great result for us, going 3-3 on underdog wins, and 2-0 on covers for a total profit of +40% of your stake. A big win by the Giants ensured another healthy profit for us.
Incidentally, this continues a streak of picking at least 2 of the week's underdog victories during the regular season, stretching through the entirety of last season.
Just a heads up to say a couple of things about the website and the app.
- First of all, thanks to the thousands of you who downloaded our app. I personally find it easier picking games on the app (hence me accidentally winning the Over/Under points total contest last week when testing it!), and from a mobile perspective, it's really an important step forward and allows us to build towards becoming a 'live' platform where you can follow games in more detail as they happen, and get updates in real time when you want them. Oh, and don't worry, I graciously donated my first place prize to our runner-up!
- Upset Watch is coming to the app! This was on our list and narrowly missed launch date, but I'm pleased to say that it will be possible to read this article on the app, and we're also improving the 'Pro' section to make it quicker and easier to find Pro picks and other Pro benefits with a couple of taps.
- Finally - and in my view, this is the most exciting thing - Underdog accuracy rankings are launching this week! These rankings will show you which experts and fans pick underdogs best, and they're an extension of this column. If someone picks 75% of their underdog picks correct, then pay attention. If someone picks 12% right, maybe take their selections with a pinch of salt. Either way, it's more valuable information to help you get an edge.
Oh, and once we are happy with it on web, we'll add it to the app.
- We are working as fast as possible to finish up the last of our preseason work over the next 2-3 weeks. That includes both improving things we already have that could look a little better, and fixing crash reports if they come in. We've been lucky that the app has been a success on that front, but we have a few minor display issues on older devices that we can improve.
- From there, we'll be moving on to our next challenges. In no order, those are:
* Adding Player Prop picks
* Adding achievement badges and rewards
* Improving the main table filters and column selection area
* Getting some of Upset Watch's Weighted stats into tables for Pro users
Upset Watch Performance
Did you really doubt it? Of course we came through! In all seriousness, it was a tighter week than we'd like, but what was encouraging was that the games played out largely as expected (with the exception of Dallas). In addition, both of our covers, Atlanta and Chicago, also validated our picks.
So things continue on a positive trend for us. Of course there will be weeks in the future where things go against us, but as a number of readers have said, ultimately, will you know more about each team and each game by reading this column? Yeah. Sometimes, teams just screw up (Denver for example) or a good team gets beaten by a bad team that nobody, even we, saw coming.
But fundamentally, you'll be on the right side of the coin more often than not with us.
Week 2 Methodology
Week 2 is one of the oddest, most unpredictable weeks of the NFL season. In fact, we've had as few as 2 upsets (2020) and as many as 10 (2015) over the last 9 seasons, but whether we include those outliers in our calculations or not, we can expect that between 5 and 6 underdogs will win outright this week. In addition, underdogs tend to cover the spread in week 2 better than any other week, averaging 9.3 covers from 16 games.
Why is it so difficult to predict? One is the 'over-correction' that we all do. Let's use the Panthers as a good example. Last season, the Panthers were awful, and have been pretty bad for an extended period, therefore there isn't any general sentiment in their favor.
In week 1, they were favorites and lost, which of course, means that this week on the road against the Giants, they are now underdogs again, because the public's brief flirtation with the idea that the Panthers may not be garbage, proved to be a mistake.
The other problem is that we now have a sample size from week 1, but the betting public can't put those wins into context, and neither can sportsbooks. For example, the Bills will play the Titans in week 2 with a spread of -10, but having played just one game each, it's hard to say that the Bills may beat every team by 20+ points, or if the Rams game in week 1 was an anomaly.
So there are lots of challenges at this stage of the season, and we'll know more with every passing week, but there are definitely opportunities to pounce on, and I have 5 below.
Enough yapping, here are this week's picks
Free Pick (An underdog cover, an example of the analysis included in Upset Watch)
- With an offensive line as bad as the Las Vegas Raiders, you are never going to be comfortable saying they will beat a 6 point spread. The grim reality is that it's such a fundamental failing that the entire gameplan can be ripped apart by even the worst teams, and while they're not the best, the Cardinals are far from the worst.
- Let's start with Vegas. 6 sacks of Derek Carr, a 14 point half-time deficit, and they still had a shot at winning it in the end. That's what happens when you have Carr and Davante Adams. He finished with 10 receptions and 141 yards, plus a TD to boot. The Raiders will likely need more than just one to beat the Cardinals.
- Like so many teams lately, the Raiders have all but abandoned the running game, despite often having success in the sporadic times they do use Josh Jacobs. It's a little surprising that Josh McDaniels has continued a pattern that clearly wasn't working that well at the end of last season, but then again, with such a bad line to block for Jacobs, perhaps he thinks the only shot they have is to just try and let Carr get the ball out quickly before he gets hit.
- The Cardinals are not quite as frail on offense. It's also hard to gauge their defensive frailties, because they came up against a Chiefs team that made me look a little silly for predicting before the season that they may not have as good a year without Tyreek Hill. Instead, they looked imperious, scoring on their opening 3 drives and effectively ending the game by Half Time.
- At one stage in the third quarter, things got ugly, and the Cards were down 37-7 at home. To their credit, they added a couple more scores to finish 44-21, but it wasn't a great performance, and as mentioned in last week's picks, it's the defense that looks the problem, having key personnel, particularly on the edge with Chandler Jones.
- But again, we have to be careful. I picked the Chiefs to win last week, but I didn't think it would be by that much, so maybe, MAYBE, the Chiefs are back to Super Bowl favorite form, and if that is so, then the logic may follow that the Cardinals defense may not be quite as bad as it looks.
- My verdict is that ultimately, this is one of those situations where both teams have such fundamental problems that it is tough to know which will turn up on the day and exploit the other's weakness. My money is on the Cardinals to at least cover, and if there was a team on the covers list that I liked more than any other to win outright, it'd be Arizona.
Upset Watch Pick: Raiders to win, Cardinals to cover (+190 $100 returns $190 at BetMGM)
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