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.
Merry Christmas! There are two more weeks where we can pick three games from the entire field of 32. Thereafter, our choices get narrower each playoff week.
The AFC/NFC championship games provide us just four possible plays; the teams and the totals. That leaves 15 bets for the Trifecta before the Super Bowl. We will need to get real hot, and go 11-4 to be in the black on the season heading into the Super Bowl.
Last week, the Steelers (+2.5) covered easily, taking it to the Bengals right from the opening kickoff, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and winning by 10 (30-20).
The Panthers (-11.5) beat the Jets from box to wire but a late Geno Smith passing TD cut the margin to 10 points and cost us this game.
The Trifecta took the Over (42) in the Seahawks-Giants game, and was kicking itself later. Seattle’s top-ranked defense was a complete mismatch against the Giants, who truly looked like they quit.
The over had no chance, especially when it became apparent Eli Manning no longer has any interest in taking a hit.
The Seahawks stand alone at the top of the ATS record mountain as the first team to have 10 wins ATS this season. At 10-4, those who have jumped on the Seattle train each week have had a winning season.
The Cardinals (9-4-1 ATS) pushed their game vs. the Titans, preventing them from keeping pace with the Seahawks.
Conversely, the Texans are the only team with only 3 wins ATS with a 3-11 ATS record year to date. The Redskins are right on their tail with a 4-10 record ATS.
The Broncos also remained at the top of the over/under standings with a whopping 11-3 record, while the Vikings and Bears also continued to be involved in high-scoring games, each covering the over 10 times.
Interestingly, the two teams that have covered the over the least and are league best under bets are the Saints and the Panthers, who play one another in a mega-important game this week.
As we outline each week, the key to long-term success is a disciplined system. The later in the season, the data and information on teams makes it easier to pinpoint mismatches. We will stick to the system outlined below, but will need a really strong stretch run to make you money.
On to the picks:
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Washington Redskins
Pick: Cowboys -3 for 100 Units
The weather forecast for the nation’s capital is heavy rain and the Cowboys have been the center of controversy and distraction all week.
In this battle of dysfunctional teams, the Cowboys are the better team and still have a good chance to win the weak NFC East and if they do, could upset a higher seed in the playoffs.
The trends show that the Cowboys do not usually cover vs. the ‘Skins, especially in DC but that does not factor in how bad this Washington team has become. The Cowboys are a perfect 4-0 ATS vs. the NFC East and the Skins are 0-4 vs. the division.
There is no homefield advantage for Washington, as the stadium has been less than half full of bag wearing boo birds and with rain and Christmas break, this will look more like a high school game. The Cowboys need to win and will, by more than a field goal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams (Over/Under 43)
Pick: Over 43 for 100 Units
The Rams have a 9-5 over/under record and are 5-2 at home. Other than games against the Panthers and 49ers Top 5 defenses, they have scored often and have explosive players on offense and the ability to also score on defense.
While Tampa has not scored points on the road, this game has the potential to be high scoring in the perfect dome weather.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers (-10)
Pick: Raiders +10 for 100 Units
The Raiders are not a good football team and the Chargers are playing well and still have a small shot at a wild card spot. The Chargers went into Denver and beat the Broncos and Peyton Manning in a huge game in Week 15.
The Raiders are beating expectations on the road, with an away record of 5-2 ATS record this season. The Chargers are 4-1 at home ATS. The Raiders get up for this game each year, and are 7-2 ATS in their last nine vs. the Chargers while the Bolts have not covered any of their last four games vs. the Black and Silver.
The Chargers may be due for a letdown and while they should win, we expect it to be closer than 10 points.
Trifecta Week 15 record: 1-2
Trifecta season record: 19-23-3
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.
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.
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.