Week 11 EARLY WORMS Best Bets

If you’re not sold on this website's football information, you at least have to give us credit for building a mountain of word play.

What used to be Early Best Bets has now been transformed in the EARLY WORMS Best Bets. Don’t say we never aim for entertainment here at Owl Eats Football.

And on that note, let me tell you a story from a member of the OEF Owl Hive that perfectly encapsulates where we are in Week 11 of this website.

On his way to Vegas for “work”, the Owl Hive member, who we will call Kevon (not his real name), reached out to talk about what bets he should place.

Specifically, Kevon was interested in betting the Monday Night game between San Francisco and Seattle. You may remember that this is the only game on which WORMS and I disagreed, with me favoring San Francisco at -6 and WORMS thinking the spread should be closer to 4, and thus favoring Seattle +6.

After chatting for a bit with Kevon, I finally realized that he was reaching out not to ask what my advice is, but to double check who WORMS picked.

I clarified and told Kevon that I had picked SF and that WORMS had picked SEA.

His response?

“Thanks, I’ll go with WORMS. I like data.”

Fast forward to Monday night and he and WORMS are winners, I am a loser, and I am contemplating whether I am Dr. Frankenstein and I have just created a monster that could destroy me.

That is probably a little extreme, but maybe it is closer the day a child grows taller than their parent. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of the first week of WORMS and I can accept that it may be better at picking games than me, I just didn’t think it would happen so fast.

Kevon showed me my mortality.

But in a way, he also showed me my immortality.

With WORMS, we have something that can operate no matter the circumstances. Night Owl will no doubt be screaming at the computer right now begging me not to read too much into one week of successful results, and I agree. But the point here is that WORMS is going to grow and improve and will one day be the core of this site.

If you are hoping for more understanding of WORMS, please go and check out the WORMS primer, located at the top of the WORMS page. This is a question and answer format for how to best use the data that WORMS provides. It is the basics for something that will hopefully one day be the backbone of this site.

It will never be the whole site though.

Much to Kevon’s chagrin, I am still a part of this and it is about humanity and technology working together. I will be providing a human perspective to the data that is spit out by WORMS. Sorry to disappoint, Kevon.

So on that note, we are going to give WORMS the Wednesday spotlight. Instead of under-researched picks from me, you will be getting the deeply researched picks of WORMS. This will allow you the best actionable information this early in the week.

And then on Friday/Saturday, you will get my top five picks, which will be fully researched outside of the algorithm. Night Owl has been adamant that WORMS ran hot last week and that the human element is needed. I agree and as we move forward, I will certainly incorporate WORMS along with my thoughts, but Saturday will be my picks.

That way, if you’re like Kevon and only want to talk to robots and wish to renounce humanity, you can just interact with the Wednesday article and the WORMS page. If, however, you are a human who like feelings, jokes, thoughts, laughter, happiness, and love, then the Saturday article can be your best resource.

For many though, reading both will provide the most complete picture of the week. A picture presented by technology and humanity living in peace.

And in the name of peace, it is technologies turn to shine. So here are WORMS’ five biggest opportunities in Week 11.

*NOTE: Delta is the difference between the WORMS spread and the Vegas spread. The bigger the Delta the more confident WORMS is. These are the biggest Deltas for the week.*

HOU @ BAL Vegas Spread: BAL -4.5 WORMS Spread: BAL -29 Delta: 24.5

Holy heck, does WORMS like Baltimore. This is by far the most confident that WORMS is in any bet, and they think the Ravens have a chance to beat this spread by a mile.

And in this pick we actually have a lot of opportunity to understand how WORMS is going to operate.

First and foremost, the recommendation here is not to think that Baltimore will win by 29! Do not go and bet the house on an adjusted line that offers you Baltimore by four touchdowns.

Instead, what WORMS is telling us here is that there is a lot of times that Baltimore will beat Houston by a significant margin. Remember WORMS is attempting to predict the safest outcomes for us. If this game were played 100 times, WORMS thinks that more often than not Baltimore wins easily.

For our purposes, we don’t want to go too crazy in thinking of the actual scores that would return this, but we can feel confident that WORMS is signaling to us that the four-point spread is far too low.

The Night Owl has some concerns that recent results can skew WORMS, especially when the strength of the opponent is taken into consideration. Baltimore’s last game against Cincinnati saw them score 49 points as the Bengals laid down about one minute into the first quarter. Certainly this could be something that is not predictive, but I think that maybe it can be.

For a team to put up that many points and win by that large of a margin, they have to be a good team. Baltimore came within one point of scoring 50 twice this season, a relative anomaly. For reference, last year’s explosive Chiefs offense did it once.

On the other side, Houston has also scored 50 points this season, but happened to give up 32 and “only” won by 21. The message here being that when they play a bad team, Houston doesn’t blow their doors off, they just ding them up a little.

And so, even though WORMS might be biased by recent results or outlier performances, in this case they might be onto something.

The prediction of a 29-point Baltimore win may be off, but the confidence in Baltimore beating a four point spread seems logical. Which makes sense from a logic-based machine.

This feels like a game Kevon bets the house on. Hopefully his wife Dara is prepared for that.

NO @ TB Vegas Spread: NO -5 WORMS Spread: TB -5 Delta: 10

This one is really going to test your faith in WORMS, Kevon.

According to WORMS, Tampa Bay should be favored by five in this game, not the New Orleans Saints.

Once again, this gives us an interesting place to dive into the way WORMS computes these numbers and what it is trying to tell us.

Remember that last week, WORMS was only 6-7 on picking winners while it was 11-1-1 against the spread. We discussed this a little in the recap, but essentially the thinking is that wins and losses come down to bounces of the ball where as beating the spread is safer when you pick the right ones.

The Night Owl and I had an interesting discussion about this and took it a step further. Our thinking is that it is easier to beat a line that is man-made as opposed to beat a naturally occurring winner-loser. We also noted that last week was a particularly tough week for picking winners, as some of the biggest upsets of the season threw everything into chaos.

Bringing it back to this specific game, then, we might not want to run out and put all our money on the Tampa Bay moneyline, but we should consider the spread. WORMS is fairly certain that the spread is favoring New Orleans too heavily.

Putting my opinion to the side for a second (or a few days) there is some validity to this line of thinking. The last for sure playoff team that the Saints beat was Seattle in Week 3 and all of their other games were close with Teddy Bridgewater at QB.

There is certainly a chance that WORMS is having trouble accounting for Drew Brees’ return, but last week it thought Atlanta should only be a four point underdog, and they proved to be closer to reality than Vegas.

And therein lies the truth. Nobody knows the impact things like a returning player or scheme change may have, and so it might be wise to follow a line of thinking that only looks at the results.

Instead of twisting ourselves into a pretzel trying to understand a loss to Atlanta, maybe we should just accept it and allow a machine balance it out with all the other results.

At first glance this choice seems suspect. Upon deeper examination, though, maybe we should surrender to the unknown and accept that predictions that seem unlikely on Wednesday can happen on Sunday.

Just ask Atlanta and Miami. Speaking of Miami…

BUF @ MIA Vegas Spread: BUF -5.5 WORMS Spread: MIA -2 Delta: 7.5

I warned you that this was a pro-Dolphins website!

And despite covering five spreads in a row and Vegas lowering the line here, WORMS (and maybe me…stay tuned on Saturday) like Miami outright here.

I won’t repeat everything I just said, but we shouldn’t be reading this and running to the Miami moneyline, we should be reading this and running to bet the spread.

There are a lot of situations in which Miami doesn’t win this game, but there are far fewer in which they don’t cover, according to WORMS. And our human minds can find plenty of reasons to agree.

First of all, the trends of these two teams are self-evident. Miami is riding a two game win streak after beating the Jets and the Colts. You might be saying to yourself that (considering Brian Hoyer was Indy’s quarterback) those two teams are not as good as the 6-3 Bills. You might be right.

Or you might not be. After a hot start to the season, Buffalo has looked terrible these past two games and continued to struggle on both defense and offense this past Sunday in Cleveland. Josh Allen missed throws, Nick Chubb ran wild, and if the Browns could convert from inside the five, this could have been a blowout.

Although WORMS is not like us and does not feel momentum or identify teams as hot or not, statistics represent these trends. Over the past few weeks Miami’s statistics have been trending up and downright good in some cases. Buffalo’s trending down and downright bad.

What we might think or feel, WORMS determines from data. In this case, the determination is that these two teams are more evenly matched than the spread indicates.

I like Miami, WORMS likes Miami, Kevon likes Miami (because he does everything WORMS does). The only question left is whether YOU like Miami.

CIN @ OAK Vegas Spread: OAK -10.5 WORMS Spread: OAK -16 Delta: 5.5

As much as WORMS likes Miami, it hates Cincinnati equally.

And can you blame them?

Looking at this line, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Oakland fails to win this game. It is also pretty hard to imagine a scenario in which it is close. And so we can see WORMS doing its job here.

Remember, this algorithm was created to identify the discrepancies in lines that might be harder to spot as an average human like me or Kevon. In this case, WORMS is signaling to us that we can be confident in Oakland in this position (or at least that we should have no confidence in Cincinnati).

Which might be the best advantage WORMS can offer us. This season has largely been defined by large line and our reaction to them. We have made a lot of money off of lines that are big but not big enough. We have made money off of lines that are too big. We have also lost money in each situation by misunderstanding the situation.

If I have noticed one thing in the brief life of WORMS, it does not have the same fear we humans have of avoiding those big numbers. WORMS is cold and calculated in the way it points out that a team is actually 20 points better than another, not 10.

Whereas we might be gun shy with numbers that large and gravitate towards close spreads that seem easier to achieve, WORMS can push us towards the larger spreads that are still weak.

In this case Oakland has been on fire and has all the tools necessary to dominate this game. Their offensive line and running game has been exceptional recently and they have just enough pass rush to expose Cincinnati’s weak offensive line. Given that the Bengals are starting a backup QB, ran 30 times in an almost 40 point loss last week, and seem to be in the driver’s seat to get the number one pick, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them put up even less fight than we might expect.

WORMS thinks Vegas was too conservative here, and maybe they can give us the confidence to stand up to the desert just the same.

ARI @ SF Vegas Spread: SF -11.5 WORMS Spread: SF -16 Delta: 4.5

Finally, here we have the game that WORMS is fifth most confident in.

You should take note of the Deltas at this point. Remember that is the WORMS version of a hoot. The bigger the Delta, the more confident the algorithm. This is important to note, especially when you are thinking moneyline bets, as the bigger Deltas won more comfortable against the spread last week and more frequently on the moneyline.

This week, the difference between WORMS strongest play and their fifth strongest play is about the same as all of plays 2-5 combined. In other words there is a large gap in confidence here.

For some more context, as you will see on the WORMS page, there are only four games with a Delta of over five. There are 10 between zero and five. This means we really want to hone in on those top games as a big plays and use the smaller Deltas to sprinkle in our Week 11 portfolio.

What I’m getting at here is that WORMS is not significantly more confident in this pick than it would be in say New England Philadelphia or Atlanta Carolina, two games that are difficult to project.

But even with all that preamble, this might not be such a bad fifth bet in the end. Many will point to the game these two teams played a couple of weeks ago and say that Arizona kept it close in that one, but this game is much different.

First of all, that game was on a Thursday night, and the differences in those games compared to Sunday games has been well-documented on this website. Secondly, Arizona is returning from a game 3,000 miles away in Tampa Bay while San Francisco will be playing their second in a row at home. Finally, coming off a loss, we might infer that San Francisco will be more eager to win and maintain their one (really half) game lead over Seattle.

On the other side, though, there are some things that WORMS cannot know. After getting back their full back and tackle, the Niners lost their tight end and #1 receiver. The end result is that they might be able to run the ball better, but they are susceptible in the pass game.

Meanwhile Arizona has had its own rollercoaster with injuries. David Johnson looked terrible last week and that would mean this team is down to one running back. Although Christian Kirk exploded last week, the passing game was not all that successful a couple of weeks ago and it might be more of the same this week.

I’m not trying to talk you out of this pick, but perhaps I am trying to validate WORMS’ hesitance, as represented by the smaller Delta.

Both of these teams have had an up and down few weeks which makes predicting this game hard, and I want to make sure that’s clear as you head out to bets.

If you’re anything like Kevon, though, you don’t want all these words, you just want the cold hard numbers spit out by the machine.

In that case, Kevon, enjoy your bet on the Niners and hopefully the robots spare you in the inevitable uprising.

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