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Wagstaff’s Picks: Week of Oct 4-7, 2017 October 3, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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The worst case scenario resulted from last week’s picks – I went 5-5.

My original theory, as you may have surmised by the picture clue from the previous post, was to make my picks and then actually go with the opposite. Was my handicapping a reverse barometer?

Well, no.

My handicapping makes no difference whatsoever, it seems. I’m no different than a random coin flip. A solid 50%.

I REFUSE to believe that. Maybe it would work that way in a single week, but over the course of an entire season, my thought processes/opinions/analysis should prove better than 50% if I’m accurate and lower if I keep making mistakes.

Season totals are 20-28-1, for a percentage of .408, so perhaps a few more weeks of non-negative results can bring me up to that magic 60% figure found among the top pros at this crap.

Back to my original screens/system/masochism. I came up with these:

Arkansas St by 7 1/2 over Georgia South

Notre Dame by 15 over North Carolina

Buffalo plus 6 1/2 against Western Michigan

Ohio U by 12 over Central Michigan

Syracuse by 4 1/2 over Pittsburgh

New Mexico State plus 11 against Appalachian State

Maryland plus 31 1/2 against Ohio State

Minnesota plus 4 against Purdue

Utah plus 6 1/2 against Stanford

Tulane by 4 over Tulsa

LA Monroe by 6 over Texas St

Northern Illinois by 23 1/2 over Kent State

Miami by 3 over Florida State

Hopefully I’ll improve. Hopefully the Patriots’ defense will improve.

Hopefully…well, a lotta things, to be honest. But time will tell.

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Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of September 21-23, 2017 September 19, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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My picks last week were so wrong, so pathetic, so ultimately crappy…. I decided I needed to overhaul my methods.

As tempting as it was to continue picking the same way and then simply applying the George Costanza “just do the opposite!” theory, I instead went through EVERY lined game and crunched data on the spreads & outcomes.

My goal? To come up with a more automatic screening system, similar to stock screens.

I’ve tried lots of stock screens. Some of them have actually worked. And when they’ve worked, they’ve been pretty consistent, if I stuck to the rules and didn’t let emotions sway me. Let’s see if spotting weaknesses in what the oddsmakers post can work the same way.

Although if you’re paying attention, last week’s Duke game illustrated the contrarian rule I mentioned – when a spread seems WAY out of whack with what you think is reality, bet with it… the oddsmakers know more than you. Duke by 14 seemed high, but then they won by 14. ON THE FRICKIN’ NOSE.

I made the HUGE mistake of listening to too much sports radio and some podcasts about betting football lines. I let the discussions amongst the professionals influence me, especially in going with teams like Pitt, BYU and Louisville last week.

I’m tuning all of it out. Back to playing Count Basie and books on tape during my drives.

I will cleanse myself of outside influences.

First, I went through all the lined games from last week, all the stats and so forth. 59 games in total. Jeez.

I set up some screens, crunched some numbers, and came up with a set of screens that would have had solid results last week. So, let’s try an experiment and see if it works with week, with a bonus level added. I went through every lined game for this week…. 56 of ’em this time. Oy. But here’s what I came up with…

College Football Picks Passing ALL Screens:

Penn State by 12 1/2 over Iowa

Clemson by 34 over Boston College

VA Tech by 28 over Old Dominion

Navy by 11 1/2 over Cincinnati

UNLV plus 40 1/2 against Ohio State

Michigan State plus 4 against Notre Dame

Ball State plus 7 1/2 against Western Kentucky

College Football Leaners – Most Screens passed, but not all – for experimental purposes only:

S. Florida by 20 over Temple

Duke by 2 1/2 over North Carolina

Purdue plus 10 against Michigan

LA Tech plus 8 1/2 against South Carolina

Kentucky plus 2 1/2 against Florida

E. Michigan by 2 1/2 over Ohio U

Under 51 1/2 in the Georgia State/Charlotte game

Syracuse plus 23 1/2 against LSU

No NFL picks this week – the system I put together needs more data, and they haven’t played enough games yet.

My pathetic record thus far is 7-16-1 for a batting average of 30%. BUT THIS IS WHERE IT ALL TURNS AROUND!

Hopefully… the screens I’m using would have returned a 9-1 record last week with a bunch of different games I ignored. I’ll take a chance that doing that well above a 50% “control norm” is a big enough disparity to prove the worthiness of my screens. Let’s see what happens this week, and if I’m actually on to something here.

And a shanah tovah to y’all!

Wagstaff’s Picks: Week of September 16, 2017 September 14, 2017

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I’m not going pro, not yet. Not after a mediocre record last week.

It wasn’t enough to watch the Patriots defense dissolve into melted butter. I also misread some teams that could not cover big spreads, and it looks like USC is for real. Well, so far, anyway.

I’ll swing for the fences this week with a dozen picks I have decent levels of confidence in, as well as discussing a couple of others where I’ll bow out and leave it up to you.

College Games:

I looked at a bunch of matchups with large spreads to see which ones I thought were overreactions to the first couple of weeks of games. We’re still in that phase of the early season in both college and pro, before the oddsmakers have more and more data to work with.

I like BYU plus 17 against Wisconsin. BYU has sucked so far, I’m going with the “they’re DUE!” factor since they are a better team than how they’ve played so far, and they’re at home. I don’t know if they’ll win, but I’m guessing it will be a low scoring game, and 17 points is a lot. I also like Pittsburgh plus 14 against Oklahoma State, banking on Pitt coming off a tougher game versus Penn State and Oklahoma State coming off playing Tulsa and S. Alabama.

For covering a big spread, I like the aforementioned USC to cover 15 1/2 over Texas as well as taking the Over 67 1/2 in that one, and Minnesota to cover 10 over Middle Tennessee State.

The game that jumps out of the odds board is Duke as 14 (!) point favorite over Baylor. Baylor was once a national power, but they have truly sucked so far this year, never mind all the problems they’ve had with their program off the field. Duke has played well, but are they really this good?? My number crunching puts Duke at maybe a 3-4 point edge, so part of me thinks this is a slam-dunk pick to go with Baylor. But in the back of my mind is an old contrarian angle when it comes to out-of-whack spreads like this, which is: the oddsmakers know more than you. They’re NOT that stupid… so while the number-cruncher says Baylor, my contrarian gut says to go against the crowd and pick Duke. Consequently, I am not making a pick here, but will instead merely observe to see what wins – my numbers, or the contrarian historic angle.

Another game that’s a close call but ultimately a pass for me is Miami OH by 5 over Cincinnati. I’m fairly confident in Miami OH to win, just not sure about the 5 points. Meh.

Rounding out the college picks: In the big Saturday night game, I like the at-home-revenge angle and will go with Louisville plus 3 1/2 against Clemson. Clemson got by them last year, but it was close, and Jackson has improved as QB. It’ll be a good game that I think Louisville can win outright. I also like California at home plus 3 1/2 against Ole Miss, and I’ll go with the Over 49 1/2 in the Tennessee/Florida matchup.

NFL:

After watching Kansas City beat the crap out of my team last week, I am TOTALLY UNEMOTIONAL as I pick against them this week.

No, really!

I like the Eagles plus 6 against the Chiefs, as well as the Over 48 in the game. Philly looked decent against Washington last week, and the Chiefs lost their best defensive player.

I like betting Overs. Especially when the total is topped earlier in the game, and I can kick back and watch the rest of it play out with no stress and a drink in my hand, knowing I’ve won. Betting unders mean staying nervous until the final tick.

I also like the Vikings plus 5 1/2 against the Steelers, and the Packers plus 3 against the Falcons, even if it’s the Falcons in their spiffy new stadium. The Falcons squeaked by the Bears last week, and the Packers are way more dangerous.

So there you are, 12 picks. I went 3-5 last week to bring the season totals to 5-6-1.

THIS IS WHERE IT ALL TURNS AROUND!

Wagstaff’s Picks: Week of September 9, 2017 September 7, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Nobody seems to care about my football picks. Posting them doesn’t significantly increase the traffic this humble blog gets on a regular basis. But I don’t care. I’ll keep making them for my own jollies.

And the biggest jolly? Like I said last week, I have a better batting average with these things than most of the professional pickers out there posting picks (especially with spreads and totals) on bigger sports sites like CBS or ESPN.

Therefore, I’m basically posting a free giveaway of money to anyone simply betting my picks. Read my site and make money. And people don’t bother.

I always knew in my dark heart that the majority of people are morons, and now I have definitive proof.

CATS IS BETTER.

I went 2-1-1 last week. I’ll continue my BOLD RISK TAKING by picking some NFL games in the opening week, without any stats to go on. And there are a few college games I like.

College:

I think Clemson can cover 5 against Auburn, and Washington State to cover 10 1/2 against the Boise State team that scored late to force that tie in my picks last week. As much as I think USC will win the game, I’ll still go with Stanford plus 5 1/2 against them, since I think it’ll be close.

NFL:

Let’s go with the Falcons to cover 7 against the Bears, the Raiders plus 3 against the Titans, the Steelers to cover 9 over the Browns, and (I can’t believe I’m doing this…) the Rams to cover 4 against the Colts. I’d also go with the Under 41 in the Rams/Colts game.

So am I still giving away free money? I guess we’ll know by Sunday night.

 

Three NFL Playoff Bets January 21, 2017

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I never bet for or against a team I root for (meaning the Patriots in this case), but nevertheless I have three picks relating to this weekend’s conference championship games that I’m very confident with.

While the Patriots are 6 point favorites over the visiting Steelers, the Steelers were the LAST team I wanted to come to Foxboro for the title game since they’ll be the toughest foe the Pats could face. While the Patriots played great down the stretch, the only time they faced a quarterback at the top tier was Wilson & the Seahawks, and they lost. And while they beat the Texans by a sizable point margin last week, they played poorly in nearly every aspect of the game. And the Steelers are 7-0 when Rothelsberger, Brown and Bell all play. And I’m a worry-wart.

In any case, it’ll be a great matchup, and I don’t think Pittsburgh will be held to nothing but field goals by what can often be an erratic Patriot secondary. And Brady should be able to slice through the Pittsburgh secondary. So why is the over/under only 50 1/2??

So while not picking a winner, I would definitely take the OVER 50.5 in the Steelers/Patriots game.

Over in the NFC,  with the whoever-has-the-ball-last wins likelihood scenario of another high-scoring shootout between the high powered offenses & quarterbacks involved, the historically high 60.5 over/under figure seems low to me. Again, take the OVER 60.5 in the NFC game, and while once again I can’t be sure of a winner, I can be fairly confident in the game being decided by a narrow margin, so the 5 1/2 point spread seems excessive. Take the Packers plus the 5 1/2 since I think they’d beat that spread even if they lose.

Any one of these four teams could make sense as a Superbowl winner this year. I hope it’s my team, and even for you Pats haters and non-fans…. you KNOW you also hate Roger Goodell, and you KNOW how great it would be for him to have to totally eat shit and hand Kraft, Belichick & Brady that trophy.

I’d like to see it go down like this (except with the Pats winning, of course….)

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of December 2,2016 December 2, 2016

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0085A special Friday edition, since I want to pick a Friday night game.

And that game is the PAC12 championship between Colorado & Washington, where the stakes for Washington are very high indeed – win, and they are most certainly in to the 4 team playoff. Lose, and they are sent on the one-way road to Palookabowl, whichever lesser bowl it turns out to be.

A great matchup, and certainly tops on my Friday night TV schedule while I make my szechuan chicken. It’s also a big spread – Washington is favored by 9, and as much as I think they’ll win, Colorado is a really good team with a lot of experienced players, and I think they’ll keep it close. So, I’ll go with Colorado plus 9 against Washington.

In a few of tomorrow’s big match-ups, I have mixed feelings, but here’s a shot:

In the big SEC championship game between Alabama and Florida, I fully expect Alabama to win, since they’re probably the best college team out there. Florida’s offense leaves a lot to be desired – does that justify a 21 point spread in favor of ‘Bama? Well, I think it does.  Not only because Alabama COULD score that much more than them, but I think that, even in a conference championship game, that assistant Lane Kiffin will want to run up the score to demonstrate his offensive props while he’s out interviewing for head coaching jobs next year, most notably at Houston. So, my “Lane Kiffin’s audition” factor outweighs other stuff, and I’ll take Alabama to cover 21 over Florida.

In the Big 10 championship, it’s an interesting set-up, where we have a red-hot Wisconsin team playing an equally hot Penn State team, even if fellow conference members Ohio State & Michigan are the ones either in or flirting with making the playoff. But, if Washington does lose, there’s a good chance that the winner of this game gets in there, especially if Clemson loses to Virginia Tech (which they won’t).  The spread is Wisconsin by 2. I think it’ll be close, and I think Wisconsin is the better team. I’d take Wisconsin to cover 2 over Penn State.

As mentioned above, I like Clemson by 11 in the ACC championship over Virginia Tech. VT has been weaker against the spread than Clemson, though not by much…. but Clemson has been playing better lately, and can taste the playoff. I think they can win by 2 touchdowns.

In another great matchup, Oklahoma is favored by 11 over Oklahoma State. I think these teams are far more evenly matched than that, and despite Oklahoma looking like a better team, I think this will be closer. So, I’ll go with Oklahoma State plus the 11 points.

In the pros, I like the Chiefs plus 5 1/2 against the Falcons, the Eagles plus 1 1/2 against the Bengals, the Raiders by 3 over the Bills, and the Redskins plus 1 1/2 against the Cardinals.

I went 4-3 last week overall, bringing the college totals to 25-16-1 & the pros to 17-12, for a grand total of 42-28-1. That winning percentage needs to go up, pronto!

And Gronk is out for the season. There is no joy in Patriotland for your humble prognosticator.

 

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of November 26, 2016 November 25, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Books, Football, Horse Racing.
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mattel-footballboxIs anyone making money following my advice?  You could be, I guess.  Especially last week, where I was a mere half point away from running the table and going 8-0.  Perfection eluded me, but I improved my totals: 22-15-1 in college, 16-10 in the pros, for a grand total of 38-25-1.

I’m taking a bigger chance this week, picking favorites to cover only. I’d like to think the push for better bowl bids will drive a lot of the college picks, but who the hell knows? I’m going with teams I think will want to score big in the college games, and teams I think will simply win outright in the pros. It’s not an exact science.

The idea of “exact science” in sports handicapping always fascinates me, however. It’s what attracts me to the horse races as well. And in a BIG THRIFT STORE SCORE this week, it turned out that some fellow degenerate gambler donated a stock of horse handicapping books to Goodwill, just waiting for me to find them.

Well, three out of the four, anyway. I already had a copy of Ainslie’s Complete Guide to Thoroughbred Racing

But I did not have On Track/Off Track by James Quinn, a collection of short pieces on various aspects of horse betting that, perfect for me, focuses mostly on Santa Anita racetrack. I also picked up a copy of Steven Davidowitz’ Betting Thoroughbreds, and a copy of Thoroughbred Handicapping, State of the Art by William Quirin.

Well, state of the art for the mid 1990s, when all these books were published, which makes them a little out of date in terms of what sorts of information is readily available nowadays as opposed to calculating stuff on your own (like pace figures and such), but the general advice & strategies are still sound.

Each book was only two bucks!

I love poring through outdated sports betting books from the days of scratch sheets and people programming their Bowmar calculators to figure point spreads. There’s something about digging through all the outdated technical and computer instructions to get at the fundamental algorithms in making the picks, and then applying them to the current technologies and data available.  This is what I did when reading the long out of print Sports Betting by Jim Jasper. You have to wade through all sorts of instructions about what numbers to punch into the pocket calculator to figure baseball and football odds, but once translated into modern available data, a lot of Jasper’s overriding ideas are good ones.

Whatever. It provided me some nice reading material during my week off.

Oh yeah, my picks….

In the college games, I’ll stick with Temple to cover 21 over East Carolina, Penn State by 11 over Michigan State, Colorado by 9 over Utah, and USC to cover 17 1/2 over Notre Dame.

In the NFL, I like the Chargers coming off a bye by 1 over the Texans, the surging Dolphins by 7 1/2 over the Forty Niners, and the strengthening Seahawks by 6 over the Buccaneers.

And now, back to goofing off….

 

 

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of November 19, 2016 November 18, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, Writing.
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grfootThe new Wagstaff novel is at the proofreaders/immediate feedback sources. I’m aiming for sometime in January to have it available on Amazon. Watch this space for any updates on that.

In the meantime, this means I can devote whatever gray matter I have left (most likely my internal organs at this point) towards making these picks, right? I keep reverting back to matching a coin flip, however, going 3-3 overall last week to bring my college totals to 18-15-1 and the NFL to 13-9, totalling 31-24-1. 56%. Ugh. I gotta do better than that.

Perhaps my constant trolling of people on Facebook with snark will sharpen my mind. And if not, well, at least I’m getting my jollies.

I think I will take advantage of the Thanksgiving break to design some possible covers for the new book. I’m aiming for something a little flashier than last time, something a little more colorful. The black & white noir thing worked well last time, but it’s time to gussy things up a bit. I have a decent camera and compositing software…. I ought to be able to put something together that’s nice. I have a concept in mind that shouldn’t be too difficult to stage.

Which reminds me… I need to rent a truckload of kangaroos dressed as clowns in bondage gear. Like I said, my concept shouldn’t be too difficult to stage.

In the meantime, in the college games this week, I like Virginia Tech plus 2 against Notre Dame, Temple by 15 over Tulane, Penn State to cover a big 28 over Rutgers, and as much as I LOVE home underdogs in rivalry games, I’m going to go against that and pick USC to cover 13 over UCLA.

In the NFL, I’ll take the Jaguars plus 6 1/2 against the Lions in a game where my cat will have no idea who to root for, the Cowboys by 7 over the Ravens, the Redskins by 3 over the Packers, and since I think it will be a low-scoring affair, I’ll take the UNDER 39.5 in the Rams/Dolphins matchup.

Looking forward to some much-needed downtime this week. I wish you all the same!

 

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of November 12,2016 November 11, 2016

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f411fd693d84ae6cb3bec2db3f772c6eI’ve been so desperate to avoid politics on TV this week that I wound up watching ALL of the Cleveland Browns game last night.

ALL OF IT.

The Browns may be a fascinating study in repeated failure, considering how many years they’ve sucked, how many draft picks they’ve had & blown, how many quarterbacks they’ve gone through, etc etc. But they are not a fun team to watch.

Switching gears to a totally different sport for a moment – to avoid watching election returns the other night, I watched my first regular season Lakers game in a number of years… and now, without Kobe sucking up all the oxygen, those hungry young guys ARE a fun team to watch.

By the way, my choice to avoid watching those election return has NOTHING to do with my political leanings (I hate everyone). It has to do with my total disdain for political “journalists” and “pundits,” who blather and bloviate endlessly, and are ALWAYS WRONG AND STUPID. And if this election didn’t prove just how stupid and wrong they can be, I don’t know what would.

Speaking of wrong and stupid, I’ve made my football picks for the weekend. Last week I was even, bringing my totals to 17-13-1 for college and 11-8 in the pros for a total of 28-21-1 overall.

And in the Breeder’s Cup, I only got the Turf Sprint & The Classic. Sorry about that. I wound up down $25. I hope you did better.

Also speaking of wrong and stupid, I view most sports radio prognosticators with nearly the same respect I view political pundits.  I’m usually only interested in when I wind up agreeing with any of ’em (and this includes horse pickers) because I wonder if we use the same methods.

Anyway, this week in the college games, I like UCF by 11 1/2 over Cincy, Oregon plus 3 against Stanford, and Washington to cover 7 1/2 over USC.

In the NFL, I’ll go with the Texans plus 1 1/2 against the Jaguars, the Falcons to cover 1 1/2 over the Eagles, and in the second best matchup of the week, the Cowboys plus 2 1/2 against the Steelers.

The best matchup? Well, duh! The Patriots against the Seahawks, Sunday night. I never pick a Pats game since it’s bad luck, but I WILL predict that Carrie Underwood’s new Sunday Night Football theme song will continue to SUCK.

Preparing the last bits for a draft of the new Wagstaff novel to go to the proofreaders. Stay tuned for more news on that front!

 

Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of November 5 November 3, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, Horse Racing.
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07-07-20_mr_creosoteThe gut continues to be more successful than the deep analysis. I went 5-2 last week, bringing the college pick totals to 16-11-1 and the NFL to 9-7, for an overall total of 25-18-1.

Not too bad, not too great. I’d like to get a winning percentage above 67% by season’s end, although keeping it over 50% is always the basic goal.

The Breeder’s Cup races are at Santa Anita November 4 & 5, a bunch of high stakes races with the best horses in the world. The weather ought to be perfect, and I haven’t looked at ANY of those races and past performances yet, but if I put together some picks over the next day or so, I’ll post ’em here, since I may as well make this a one-stop shopping central for all things sports gambling.

Although my stats tell me that not too many people care about these picks. Well, YOUR LOSS if I keep my average up. Watch the Dow Jones tank, suckers… I’M giving you free ways to make money here, regardless of the election results next week.

AND the gut will get its due this weekend – I’m planning on cooking myself some nice dinners.

This week in the college games, I like Kentucky plus 2 1/2 against Georgia (sorry David), Washington to cover 17 over California, and Baylor by 7 1/2 over TCU.

In the NFL, I’ll go with the Eagles plus 2 1/2 against the Giants, the Cowboys to cover 7 1/2 over the Browns, and the Saints to cover 4 1/2 over the Forty Niners.

My Patriots have a bye week, so it will be a relatively unemotional weekend…. until I pet my cat and swoon.

Or if I manage to hit a pick 4 betting the Breeder’s Cup. But we’ll see about that after I handicap the lot of ’em.