Alright! The moment is here.
For you, perhaps, this has not been a highly anticipated moment, but for us here at OEF this is the moment where we get to unveil WORMS – a project that has been weeks in the making.
To remind everyone, WORMS is an algorithm developed by myself and a crack statistician who will henceforth be known as the Night Owl (as he wishes to remain anonymous and seem cool at the same time).
In creating WORMS, I developed a formula using the statistics that I find the most useful. I then brought my formula to the Night Owl and they got to work building a database that incorporates all of the information and should be able to adapt and grow along with us as we learn more about the numbers and their accuracy.
The name WORMS stands for Wins On Real Margin of Success. Although that name is not descriptive of the data that goes in (which is my secret recipe) it is descriptive of the desired goals of the formula: to identify the real margins of success between two teams and exploit those to determine winning positions. In other words, instead of looking at records our goal is to identify what is truly the gap in success between two teams. If we can do that, we win.
As I have alluded to before, however, this is just the first iteration of the formula. It has been tested with enough accuracy that we feel comfortable sharing it with you, but there are still some deficiencies. One example of this is that WORMS has had trouble accounting for historically strong defenses. This week that means San Francisco and their defense didn’t fit elegantly into the formula. That is not to say that the prediction is wrong, but rather to say that this is the area we are most aware could represent a weakness.
Another trend we are noticing is that most of the totals are running on the higher side. For that reason we are not going to be including totals predictions yet, although that day will come.
So, despite the debut of this cutting edge technology, we do not want to rely solely on the algorithm. Moving forward, I will still be picking five best bets and rating them with my Hoots, but I will also be including the WORMS predictions as well.
Using all of this data you should be able to make your own decision and identify the place you agree with me, WORMS, both, or neither.
As a little taste of what we are working with here, WORMS loved the Raiders side in the Thursday night game and recommended taking them with the spread and straight up. Turns out that they were right and that WORMS is 2-2 in the test trials.
To find the WORMS predictions, you will notice that there is a new tab next to the Bet Tracker, and this is where the WORMS predictions will be posted weekly. This won’t include the score predictions (at least for now) but it will include the WORMS picks for both the spread and the moneyline. It will also track the record of WORMS, much like we do with my Best Bets.
Just to get you hooked, here are the lists of the picks (which are much easier to read over in the WORMS tab).
Winners against the spread:
ARI, ATL, BAL, BUF, GB, DET, TEN, OAK, PIT, MIA, MIN, NYG, SEA
To win straight up:
TB, NO, BAL, BUF, GB, DET, KC, OAK, PIT, IND, DAL, NYG, SF
Now, with you hooked on WORMS, let’s narrow down the field a little and choose five bets that jump out. This will be a combination of my human instincts and research along with the computing of the WORMS. The picks and Hoots will be mine and I will pair them with the WORMS
Because so much of this week has been dedicated to the WORMS, there aren’t the usual other Best Bets. For that I would say DET +2.5, LAR -4, and ARI +4.5 each for one Hoot.
On that note, there are still my top five to get to, so without further ado here are the best Best Bets we have ever delivered:
BUF +2.5 @ CLE 4 Hoots WORMS: BUF 24.5 CLE 20.5
This is not an occasion that will always happen, but Buffalo has hit in everything I can possibly consider for this game.
My heart loves them, my head loves them, my gut loves them, my mathematically engineered algorithm loves them.
The only hesitation I have comes from the reverse line movement I discussed in the Early Best Bets. This signals that there are some big money bettors balancing out the large volume of small bets coming in on the Bills.
But despite that, I can’t let the Bills go.
Ignoring record and perception, this game is a matchup of an strong betting team and a weak one. Cleveland is currently tied for the worst record in the league against the spread at 2-6 and the Bills are tied for the third best record against the spread at 5-3.
This tells me that Cleveland is a team that is perpetually overvalued while Buffalo is a team that is undervalued, which could explain the line if Vegas is trying to encourage betting on a team that rarely draws money in the Bills.
Beyond the numbers, though, this just reeks of a game between a disciplined and winning football team and one that is on the way to a nightmare season. If you need a number to represent this, you need look no further than Cleveland’s league high 9.4 penalties a game, which is almost double the lowest in the league (which is...MIAMI!!!).
Another factor for me here is the quarterbacking. Although Josh Allen is thought of as a turnover machine, it has actually been Baker Mayfield who has been loose with the football. In fact, when NOT under pressure, Baker Mayfield has the worst quarterback rating in the league. When under pressure it isn’t any better. Against the explosive Bills defense there is a high chance he turns the ball over multiple times. Meanwhile, Allen has been a winning quarterback this season. When he misses, he has missed in safe places and he has been able to use his legs to compensate when his team gets in trouble.
In a game where one team is winning and the other isn’t, the feeling has clearly permeated both teams from top to bottom. Whatever concerns I have about the line movement, I feel comfortable trusting my head, heart, gut, and robot and saying that Buffalo is a Best Bet this week.
MIA +11.5 @ IND 4 Hoots WORMS: MIA 18.5 IND 23.5
Ok, it’s time. I have a secret, that I’ve been harboring for about a month and that I need to get off my chest.
I....like….Miami...with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB.
Man that feels good to type out loud.
I know this pick may seem like it is coming out of left field, but as the week has gone on, I have felt better and better about this pick. With the WORMS prediction, I am ready to fully commit.
And it isn’t for no reason. Since switching to Fitzpatrick in the midst of Week 6, the Dolphins have covered four spreads in a row, have won a game, and are a failed two point conversion away from another win.
In that span, Fitzpatrick has accounted for 8 touchdowns and has been averaging 250+ yards per game (despite just playing a half against Washington).
Fitzpatrick isn’t doing it alone, though. He has been helped by big plays from both Devante Parker and Preston Williams, and although the later tore his ACL last week, the Dolphins are actually deep with playmakers. Albert Wilson, Allen Herns, and Mike Gesicki have all flashed at different points this season.
And with all of that, this game lines up well for a cover. Indy has played exclusively in close games this year and hasn’t separated from anyone. Given the lack of clarity at quarterback and the absence of TY Hilton, there is a strong chance that Indy tries to sit on the ball and play ball control rather than blow out the Dolphins.
It is hard to fully trust a team that is “tanking”, but I have a suspicion that the narrative around this team ran a little out of control. Although they have been touted everywhere as a team trying to lose, Fitzpatrick clearly didn’t get the memo and Brian Flores looks like a man who cares about winning.
If we believe that they are more competitive than a few early season blowouts might indicate, then this is a line that offers value.
The secret’s out. I like Miami and after this week, I might be ready to shout it from the rooftops.
SF -6 vs SEA 3.5 Hoots WORMS: SEA 27.5 SF 31.5
And so it begins.
For the first time I am disagreeing with my baby, and I’m not going to lie - it hurts.
I don’t have children, but I imagine it is probably similar to the feeling a parent gets when they have to disagree with their child. I hate to do it, but I definitely want to be the one who is right.
In this case, I am anticipating that this is the weakness of WORMS because there is no way for the current iteration to appropriately value a team that is winning games by an average margin of 16.6 points per game.
So having justified my departure from WORMS, let’s focus on the game itself.
I outlined much of this in the Early Best Bets, but the biggest piece here is that Seattle has been incredibly lucky on the season. If a kick and a coin flip go the other way, they could easily be 5-4.
The scoring margin that just made San Francisco seem so impressive makes Seattle look pedestrian. On the season, they are outscoring opponents by and average of 2 points a game. That is just a head of the Chargers and Eagles who are a combined 9-10.
So given that Seattle is lucky not to be just above .500 and has a point differential of a team that is slightly below .500, we should look at this game as one that is much closer to an 8-0 team versus a 4-4 team.
If that’s the case, then the Niners are a steal at -6. Add in the facts that they get back to vital pieces of their run game in their tackle and fullback (see Early Best Bets for attempted spellings of names) and this could be a situation that gets ugly quickly.
There is always the chance Russell Wilson pulls some magic out and wills his team to be competitive, but we are not in the business of betting on magic.
The beauty here is that Owl Eats Football is guaranteed a victory. I hope my child is wrong, but if they’re right, I still get credit because I created them.
Man, being a parent is easy.
BAL -10.5 @ CIN 3 Hoots WORMS: BAL 31.5 BAL 15.5
This is a classic five Hoot bet masquerading as a three Hoots bet. The main reason being the human side of this.
What I mean by that is that Baltimore is easily ten points better than Cincinnati, but given a huge win last week, there is a fairly sizable chance that the Ravens come into this week with the proverbial hangover that could turn this into a 3 point Baltimore win instead of a 15 point Baltimore win.
But I don’t buy it for a few reasons.
First, that hangover seems possible for most quarterbacks, but Lamar Jackson might be immune. Hypothetically, if everyone else on the Ravens gave up and laid down on the field, Jackson could probably still put up two touchdowns. Cincinnati already let up 153 rushing yards to Jackson a couple of weeks ago and show no signs that they have improved over the past few games.
Secondly, the Bengals are starting Ryan Finley. Granted they have had a week off to make sure there is a clear game plan in place, but again, that’s a week off with Ryan Finley. I don’t think we should underrate the human side of this that sees the face of the franchise (Andy Dalton) and the other face of the franchise (AJ Green) sitting on the bench.
That means that on the field the Bengals will be relying on Finley, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, and Joe Mixon behind a terrible offensive line. Meanwhile, the Ravens start three top-end cornerbacks behind a line that gets moderate pressure.
And finally, the coaching disparity is real here. John Harbaugh is for real, and we have to have faith that he is aware a hangover is on the table. If that’s the case, then I think he can get this team ready and focused, especially given that they have the inside track to a bye if they can hold off Kansas City (who has the tie-breaker over them). They are not playing for nothing in this game.
On the flip side, Zac Taylor has had a rough first season. A lot can be chalked up to injuries, poor roster construction, and a tough schedule but the fact remains: Zac Taylor has not done a good job coaching this season.
So given the on-field talent disparity, the coaching disparity, and the different trajectories of these two teams, I think this blowout is more likely than not.
The bet is three Hoots, but the value is five Hoots. That means it’s a money maker.
CAR @ GB over 47 3 Hoots WORMS: CAR 24.5 GB 25.5
We are on FIRE with over/unders.
With two in a row, we look to keep this as a staple of the Best Bets because I think it is a useful practice in projecting games and predicting outcomes. I have included the WORMS above, but I want to reiterate that WORMS is currently not optimized for over/unders so you’re stuck with just me on this one.
And just me thinks this is a pretty good opportunity.
In this game we have: the best quarterback in the league at home and the best running back in the league going against a defense that doesn’t care to stop the run. On top of that, the defenses for both teams are banged up and giving up a good amount of points.
Let’s look at Rodgers first. In five games at home this season he has a 109.1 rating with 12 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and 317 yards per game. He has only been sacked five times and he has rushed for a touchdown. In four road games, all of those numbers are worse except for his interceptions. On the human side of things, he and his team embarrassingly lost to a Chargers team that just looked pathetic on national TV. If he isn’t motivated to come out and put on a show now, then he isn’t the classic superstar we thought he was.
Looking at McCaffrey, he might be in an even better spot. Green Bay is 24th in the league in stopping the run, allowing 127.7 rushing yards per game. Last week, they allowed a Chargers offense that had run for less than 40 yards in four straight to top 100. They have allowed 4.7 yards per attempt, 25th in the league.
Meanwhile, McCaffrey has averaged a ridiculous 5.4 yards per attempt himself, and is posting historic numbers. He is on pace to challenge Chris Johnson’s total yards mark of 2,052 and is averaging over 125 rushing yards a game when not playing Tampa Bay. His 13 total touchdowns in just 8 games lead the league for skill position players.
And beyond two superstars in good matchups, both of these teams are dealing with injuries. Top corners Jaire Alexander and James Bradbury are both on the injury report and the Packers will also be without safety Kevin King. In a game that features explosive wideouts like Davante Adams, Curtis Samuel, and DJ Moore, this could be a problem for both defenses.
Given the matchup, the superstars, and the injuries, this game seems destined to shoot out. That’s just me talking, but I have gotten two in a row right so you can definitely trust me.
The Big Money Makers
I don’t want to talk anymore about last week, so I’m just going to ignore that we got wiped off the board on all parlays.
What I will focus on instead is that the Hoot system got plenty of positive feedback in it’s application to the parlays. We’ll keep that going and then in honor of the debut of WORMS, we are going to parlay the strongest moneyline and spread bets our newest employee suggested.
A difference this week is that we can no longer afford to have so many parlays. As a result, we’ll keep the Hoots, add the WORMS, but trim the number down.
So, with so much going on, let’s see what we come up with!
PARLAY 1 - The 3 Hooter
BUF +2.5 (-110)
MIA +11.5 (-105)
SF -6.5 (-115)
$20 to win $246.07
PARLAY 2 - The WORMS
BUF to win (+120)
DET to win (+120)
MIA +11.5 (-105)
NYG -3 (-115)
ARI +4.5 (-115)
MIN +3 (+100)
$15 to win $975.86
PARLAY 3 - The I don’t give a Hoot
BUF to win (+120)
DET to win (+120)
ARI to win (+185)
MIN to win (+145)
NO to win (-700)
BAL to win (-500)
LAR to win (-185)
$20 to win $1408.01