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.
Happy New Year to all! The Trifecta needed a winning Week 16 to make a season-ending move towards a successful record and instead turned in a stinker of a week.
The Cowboys (-3) won 24-23 in the last seconds, failing to cover. The Raiders (+10) ould not keep it close enough vs. the surging Chargers. And the Bucs-Rams (Over 43) over fell short in a 23-13 St. Louis victory.
Last week, we noted that the Trifecta needed to go 11-4 to be in the money on the season heading into the Super Bowl. Now, that has become 11-1, which is a daunting task.
This is a good time to discuss strategy, as it is likely many of you are in a similar situation, either because you have followed this column or are in your own hole.
Betting NFL football is not easy, even for the most studied experts. The obvious question all bettors have at this point is, “do we change our system to get back into the black?”
The smart answer is no, as changing your units or system in sports betting or even in table games at the casino is a weakness only practiced by amateur bettors. It is precisely the move that house is licking its lips, waiting to happen.
We only increase our unit size by 1 unit at a time once we are playing with the house money, and then reduce it back to the original unit amount again as soon as we lose money.
The Trifecta is not in playing with house money at this point so there will be no unit increase to try to make up ground. As Kenny Rodgers sang, the cliché ‘know when to hold them, know when to fold them” rings true.
The smart bettor knows that sometimes, the goal is to limit losses and get them next time. The NFL season is winding down and without changing the unit size of our bets it will be challenging to end the season up. It is still possible.
The one strategy change that would be ok would be to increase the number of games we play down the stretch, while keeping the unit size the same. We will consider this move only if we see a favorable play in more than three games. As noted each week in this column, the more games you play, the lower your winning percentage needs to be to win. The Trifecta strategy is referenced each week in the column.
Season-Long Winners and Losers
Last week’s battle between the Cardinals and Seahawks was for the best record ATS in the NFL, with Arizona winning outright at Seattle.
The Cardinals, at 10-4-1, now post the best ATS record in football, including 6-1 at home ATS. The Cards have also been a stellar money line straight up play all season. Any bettor who has rode Arizona is having a great season. The Seahawks still have the second best ATS record at 10-5.
The other team that presented an even better money-making opportunity has been the dreadful Texans, who hold the worst ATS record in the NFL at 3-12. Anyone who has played against the Texans each week has cleaned up.
The other battle last week was for the worst record covering the over. Surprisingly, the two teams with the worst over/under record in the NFL are teams normally associated with explosive offenses and winning records, the Saints and Panthers.
In their Week 16 meeting, form held true as the totals went under, bringing the Panthers over/under record to 4-10-1 and the Saints to 4-11. The Bears, Broncos, and league best over/under team the Vikings increased their over/under standings to 11-4, 11-4, and 11-3-1 respectively.
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:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-12)
Pick: Saints -12 for 100 Units
The Saints, at one point a Super Bowl front runner, have lost two games in a row, including last week’s huge game with the Panthers. If Sean Payton’s team is to make a serious run in the playoffs, it needs to begin in Week 17.
The Saints are 6-01 ATS at home and the Bucs are a weak 2-5 ATS on the road. There are negative trends in this game that favor the Bucs. The Bucs are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games at the Superdome and the Saints have been dreadful in Week 17 covering the points.
Noting those facts, we still see the Saints taking it to Tampa in this one.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-7.5)
Pick: Patriots -7.5 for 100 Units
The weather forecast for this game calls for heavy, chilly rain and strong wind gusts that should start well before kickoff. The game has enormous implications for the Patriots, with the No. 2 seed, a bye week, and home field for at least one game at stake.
The Pats played their best game of the season vs. the Ravens in Week 16. Normally, the bad weather is a great equalizer in the NFL and the heavy rain coupled with Christmas vacation will strongly lower the Pats home field advantage. But the difference in this game is at QB.
Tom Brady is as clutch and experienced as anyone in the NFL in big games and bad weather. The Bills QB is Thad Lewis. Enough Said!
The Bills have the best pass rushing defense in the NFL but the rain should slow down that rush, as well as Buffalo's strong running game, ranked second in the league.
The Pats are 5-2 at home ATS this season while the Bills are the vice versa of that, 2-5 ATS on the road. The Patriots are a stellar 12-2 ATS in their last 14 week 17 games.
One other fact, as noted in our Real and Spectacular Pick: New England is 24-2 against Buffalo dating back to 2000, with an average score of 28-14. Bills-Patriots is the most lopsided rivalry in football.
Buffalo at New England (Over/Under 46)
Pick: Under 46 for 100 Units
The facts favor the over. The Pats vs. Bills games have gone over in five of the last six games at Gillette. The teams are a combined 25-3 over/under in their last 28 Week 17 games. Those are strong trends.
However, the weather will be brutally challenging and both teams will try to establish the run. The Bills have a surging defense and field goals will be very tough to come by.
If the weather were different, this would not be a pick so get it in while the total is still 46 and hope that there are not a slew of defensive touchdowns on mistakes, fumbles, and picks.
Trifecta Week 16 record: 0-3
Trifecta Season record: 19-26-3
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.