NFL Football Predictors

I was eliminated from my football pool pretty early this year. This was a so-called “suicide pool,” in which you pick one NFL team to win every week. If you choose correctly, you play again the next week, but can’t use the same team twice. Everyone puts in $11 to play, and because the host of this pool has spread the word well over the years, this year’s pool was close to $4000. Because a lot of people are eliminated every week, the pool usually dwindles quickly. Somehow, though, the winning team managed to make it to Week 15 this year. That’s ridiculous.

I thought I had a pretty good chance this year, but I was eliminated in Week 6. Actually, Week 4 too—I used two different identities (this was within the league rules. I just had to pay for each player). My strategy was to never have one of my identities pick the same team as my other identity on any given week (this makes it sound like I have multiple personalities). Also, I wanted to combine intuition with statistical inference based on patterns of wins in 2006. For example, one of the categories was location (home teams win more games than away games). Given that I had a slight advantage if I picked a home team over an away game, I would never pick an away team, even if I felt like they would win.

It’s a decent strategy, but obviously there’s some luck involved, and I probably could have gotten farther if I had done a little more research and been more aware of injuries. Here are the categories I used, complete with 2006 and just-completed 2007 statistics. If any of you think there are indicators I could use, let me know.

(Note: The “coldweather” teams are only include the following teams that play outside: Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Green Bay, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tennessee.)

Look at that 68% for Coldweather Teams Playing at Home in 2007. That’s ridiculous. I think it makes sense, though, that a Cleveland team that’s used to playing in the whirling snow is going to be better in those conditions than Miami or Houston (on average). And Teams Coming Off a Bye Week is also consistently high for both years.

I’ll continue to keep track of these patterns next year. I’d actually like to hedge my bets with three separate identities in the next pool, but I’m not sure if there are three different teams every week playing at home that I could safely pick. And there are only 10 coldweather teams. However, if I could make it to Week 10 using that strategy, that would be amazing.

Addendum: I actually did account for Denver and Buffalo among the “coldweather” teams, but I’ve now added them to the list. However, I did not account for the Giants, which I thought played indoors for some reason. Adding them to the stats changes the percentage to a more reasonable 65%.

Tomorrow (for real):

A Birthday Boy at 10,000 Feet

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