On most Thursdays, I put out a Mail Revue, a Playbook Abides, or a Fat Camp column. But this isn't most Thursdays. I've been traveling all week, and the NFL season actually starts tonight. So today we'll simply introduce this year's picks segment. Under normal circumstances, I'll be running this on Saturdays, along with a detailed scouting report on the week's opponent. So this Saturday, expect to see a scouting report that you're not going to find at other Broncos-centric websites. In short, expect more and expect better.
With that out of the way, let's get right to it. Last year, I called this segment The Jesus, The Generator, and the Experts. That's because I wanted to show just how silly most NFL experts were by letting my cat (the feline kind - not the friend/buddy kind), Jesus Quintana and a random number generator (RNG) pick NFL games. We weren't disappointed. As expected, the RNG - armed with the notion that the home team wins about 57% of the time on average - ended up correctly picking about 57% of the games correctly.
We also saw how Accuscore's Monte Carlo simulation beat almost all the experts as well. So did the concept of Wisdom of Crowds. This shouldn't surpise too many. Statistics take all the emotion out of picking games, and the aggregate knowledge of sports fans (as long as they don't read too much Peter King, whom both Doug and I beat in last year's picks), always prevails in the end.
Mission accomplished. We managed to prove, once again, that most experts are, in fact, hardly better than randomly produced predictions, and often worse than statistical models and prediction markets.
This year, we're setting out to have more fun and to focus our wrath on more specific individuals like Peter King (always a favorite target), Mike Silver (always fourth-string), and Merril Hoge (always focusing on mechanics), but we'll also keep track of the Accuscore and Pigskin Pick 'Em benchmarks to see if math and crowds are again superior.
As far as picks are concerned, we've added the always cuddly Ted Bartlett to the mix, along with our own hockeyfights.com master, David Singer. In addition, we've replaced Jesus Quintana with Baxter McLove. I won't speak ill of the cat, but let's just say he was doing worse than Eric Allen--that is to say, sucking wind. Baxter will, over the weeks, bring his own special stone-cold drunk locks, and use his proprietary method for making his selections (Hint: it combines pornography, astrology, and reflexology, but not always in that order).
Doug will once again use his superior intellect. I, on the other hand, will be using a weighted Sagarin-like ranking system that I developed based on Chapter 41 of Wayne Winston's book Mathletics. A similar process is described here by our friend Brian Burke. I had been hoping to develop my own Monte Carlo system, but when I backtested the ranking-system methodology, it had accuracy rates well above 60%. So I just went with it. My hope is that the system will achieve similar rates to the Accuscore simulator. We'll see how it goes. If all else fails, I'll make fun of Peter King. One can make a good living on that alone.
With all of that out of the way, I present to you the Week 1 picks. Next week, expect more discussion about probability from me, Baxter's stone-cold drunk locks, and for that fat bastard Peter King to already be in last place.
|AWAY TEAM||HOME TEAM||Ted Bartlett||TJ Johnson||Doug Lee||David Singer||Baxter McLove|
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Doc Bear doesn't participate in the weekly picks, for no other reason than he's already the wisest guy we know. He doesn't need to show us up to prove it. Put another way: don't challenge a dragon to a fight when you already know what the outcome will be.
Enjoy the beginning of the season tonight, and we'll see you again on Saturday with more serious analysis.
TJ Johnson can be reached through telegraph, ESP, Spanish interpretor, or via email: email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you want to see him mock "the man." He assumes you are following It’s All Over Fat Man on Facebook and Twitter, but if you are not, that’s nihilistic, man.