NOTE: Each week of the season FootballNation.com founder and Cold, Hard Football Facts partner Andrew Miller will look at the three games he is personally playing each week, using the disciplined system he has followed over years of analytics research as both an entrepreneur and football fan. Read more about Miller below.
The picks in this Trifecta column are not necessarily the same as those of the official CHFF "Real and Spectacular" Picks based upon our Quality Stats. Our goal is to provide you as much information as possible to make educated picks based upon a variety of stats, methods and strategies.
When it comes to betting, there are always rationalizations and opportunities to make excuses. But at the end of the day, there are no excuses. A loss is a loss. Close is irrelevant.
Needless too say starting strong out of the gate is preferred to digging out of a Week 1 hole. Yet, as we so often see, the horse that comes out blazing often finishes back of the pack.
Entering last week, the Falcons and Saints had produced a streak of 19 straight games going Over. It was too powerful a trend to ignore.
When there is a wave like that, you must ride until you fall off the surfboard, which is exactly what happened on Sunday: the game did not approach Over 54 (Saints 23, Falcons 17).
We also liked the Falcons +3. And their powerful, efficient offense had the ball inside the 10 in the final minute against what was a historically weak Saints defense in 2012. The Falcons could not punch it in, losing the game for them and for us.
The Rams, meanwhile, won outright over Arizona (27-24) but could not cover -4.5.
As we outlined in Week 1, the key to long-term success is a disciplined system. We will stick to the system outlined below and plan our climb back in Week 2.
Here is the Trifecta system:
We will refer to units bet for each game. A unit can differ for each of you but the key is to stick to the system. You will notice this system is very consistent: we play the same amount of units per each of the three games, avoiding the temptation of stepping it up until playing with house money.
If we step it up and end up back at point zero, we will start the system all over again. It is essential to stick to your system: so many people get on a losing streak and try to make it all up in one game, only to dig deeper in a hole.
Deep holes are, of course, tough to come out of. Be smart. Be sensible. Have fun.
Why three picks? Betting on football is hard. For those who are very good, we have just a slight edge and margin over Vegas. The most successful football bettors play one or three games each week.
My system of three: you need to bat 66 percent (2/3) to win, where with one pick you need to bat 100 percent to win; with four picks, 75 percent.
Yes, the math gets more favorable the more games you play, so if you play all 16 games in a 16-game week, and you go 9-7, you will have only needed to succeed at 57 percent which is easier than 66 percent. However, there are never or rarely nine clear-cut advantages to identify out there every week. So while the percentage you need to win is higher, the odds of doing so with more or every game decreases.
On to the Picks:
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-7)
Pick: Ravens -7 for 100 units
The trends for this one are not great. While the Ravens dominate the Brown straight up, with a 21-7 record since the Browns returned to Cleveland, they have not covered at home vs. the Browns since 2009. Instead, they seem to cover at The Dawg Pound: Baltimore is 3-0 ATS in its last three games at Cleveland.
This trend does bother me as it shows that the lines guys are overvaluing the Ravens in Baltimore. Add to those trends, that the Ravens looked overmatched in Denver on opening night, in a game that should have been their home opener.
The Browns, alas, are not the Broncos and Peyton Manning and face a Ravens team that is angry, in an early season must win game. This week they stop the 3 loss ATS at home streak vs. the Browns and win this game going away.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (Over/Under 43.5)
Pick: Under 43.5 for 100 units
Sometimes, when a team wins going away as the Ravens should, those lopsided games often end just Under. The Ravens rebuilt defense is much better than it showed vs. the Broncos. And as the CHFF Quality Stats show from Week 1, with Cleveland’s pass defense at No. 12 in Defensive Real QB Rating and No. 13 in Defensive Passer Rating after the team's 23-10 loss to Miami.
These divisional foes play each other two times a year and they have not had a game go over 43 since 2008. As the Falcons-Saints Over streak broke last week, all streaks eventually come to an end but the data and set up is too favorable not to ride the Under here.
St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons (-7)
Pick: Falcons -7 for 100 units.
The Trifecta believes in the Falcons, despite the fact that they crushed us two ways last weekend. The Saints were hungry and there was a lot of energy around Sean Payton’s return.
Winning at the Superdome is never an easy task and as said earlier, the Falcons were just a short distance from winning at New Orleans in the final minute, which is what a great super Bowl contender would have done.
This week, the Falcons need to put together a game that restores that Super Bowl contender credibility. As with the 0-1 Ravens above, it is already a must-win home game.
The Falcons have done well coming off a loss. Last season they were 2-1 ATS after their losses, and in 2011, they were 4-1-1 ATS after a loss. The Rams defense is good, and QB Sam Bradford doesn’t make a lot of bad mistakes, making a defensive TD unlikely. But as with the Ravens, great teams need to win games after losses in Week 1 with authority. Atlanta should win with authority in Week 2.
Trifecta Week 1 record: 0-3
Trifecta Season record: 0-3
Andrew Miller is the founder of Football Nation.com and an entrepreneur focusing on analytics-driven online businesses. The Wall Street veteran worked for Michael Milken’s Drexel Burnham, and was a senior vice president at Bear Stearns and Smith Barney. Miller then founded CreditCards.com and InsuranceQuotes.com, both sites that used analytics to drive leads in the respective industries. Both businesses were successfully sold within 3 years of their inception. Miller gathered a team of experts who live and breathe football, including Cold, Hard Football Facts, and in 2011 they founded FootballNation.com. He is now all football, all the time: playing high stakes fantasy football and betting on games, using deep analysis through CHFF Insider, trends research, and years of intuition.