Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Before we get to our picks, I wanted to do a quick introduction that lets you peek behind the curtain of WORMS yet again to understand what is happening here.
I once had a boss that explained a project we were working on by saying “We are trying to build the airplane mid-flight”. I didn’t understand what that meant then, but after the experience of building and running both Owl Eats Football and WORMS, it is clearer to me now than ever.
As the season has gone on, we have changed, implemented, and eliminated a number of things. Remember fantasy football articles? Gone. Remember Owl Eats Basketball? Dead and buried. Remember life before WORMS? Me neither.
In the course of doing all of this, though, I have still been making picks, churning out content, and developing an algorithm. We have been in flight since August, but we took off in a paper airplane and now we are building a jumbo jet.
With WORMS, specifically, this process has been hard. As many of you know, WORMS started as paper calculations that I did in my breaks at work. The more I tweaked it, the more accurate it got and the clearer it became to me that this was something that would be of value to the community.
In an effort to computerize and digitalize the process, I contacted the Night Owl for help. He took my algorithm and created a database that would spit out and churn out numbers each week in a digestible and understandable format. Theoretically, the mission was complete and our airplane had been built mid-air.
In reality, though, we might have had a plane, but we had not seats or windows or bags of pretzels. When people started to want to get on the plane, we realized we had built an aircraft but needed to make it hospitable as well.
What this means is that as the database became streamlined, we realized we had a lot more information to communicate. We wanted to add weekly strength ratings, we wanted to add betting percentage recommendations, we wanted to incorporate strength of schedule.
And the more things we tried to take on, the more convoluted and confusing the process became. The Night Owl and I have emailed several times a day for three straight weeks trying to curate this WORMS plane while I keep it in the air. It’s really difficult.
The perfect example of this is WORMS’ record. Currently, the NO and I have three different records for the wins and losses of WORMS that all come down to the rounding of numbers and the changing of lines. There have been countless man hours spent on this and we have not reached a conclusion; we probably won’t until we land the plane this off season for maintenance.
The reason I tell you all of this is because we are at a point where there is room for more passengers on our plane, and although it isn’t perfect, we have seats and windows and pretzels now.
To prove to you that we are advancing and making something of this, I wanted to share some of the data that we have been collecting that highlights how we know we are ready for passengers.
Through the five weeks WORMS has been active, here are the breakdowns of the records for the various Delta ranges.
***NOTE: An earlier version of this article labeled the Moneyline Table with Delta Range but has since been updated to WORMS Spread, a more relevant measure of strength for winners and losers of games***
DELTA RANGE WINS LOSSES PERCENTAGE
25+ 2 0 100%
15-25 7 1 88%
10-15 3 3 50%
5-10 16 6 73%
0-5 22 10 69%
Total 50 20 71%
WORMS SPREAD WINS LOSSES PERCENTAGE
25+ 3 0 100%
15-25 7 2 78%
10-15 7 0 100%
5-10 14 3 82%
0-5 17 20 46%
Total 48 25 66%
So what do these numbers tell us?
First and foremost is that Deltas and WORMS Spreads matter. If you be exclusively Deltas/WS of 15 or above you would be winning much more than if you sink down into the single digits.
Secondly, it reminds us that this is still fresh data. There is some randomness in a five week sample size and the fact that Deltas in the 10-15 range are .500 against the spread show that there is some chance here and we don’t fully understand all the implications of WORMS.
Finally, and most relevantly, this data exemplifies the type of information that is affecting the way we build our plane, but which isn’t getting as much attention in the air as it will be getting on the ground. These are the numbers we are still trying to comprehend and relay to you while also making sure that you have you pretzels and an in-flight movie.
With WORMS growing and strengthening every week, we want to load this plane up, even as we continue to improve it. With myself flying the plane and the Night Owl operating as the co-pilot, we are going to do everything we can to get this puppy somewhere meaningful before season’s end.
If you want to come along for the ride, grab a seat and strap in. It might get bumpy, but the destination should be worth the turbulence.
Here are the Week 15 Early WORMS Best Bets:
HOU @ TEN
Vegas: TEN -3 WORMS: TEN -24 Delta: 21 Spread %: 18 Moneyline %: 16
This one is fairly easy to understand, and might be just as easy to make money on.
The Titans are scorching hot and the Texans are wildly inconsistent. Let’s start by looking at Houston.
A week after beating the Patriots, the Texans laid one of the largest eggs the world has ever seen. Despite the final score, the game was over in the first half when Drew Lock and Denver went up 31-3. Again, Houston allowed Drew Lock to score 30+ points IN A HALF. On the season Denver averages 18.2 points per game.
The question then becomes, which game is an outlier - the in over New England or the loss to Denver?
It is the official position of Owl Eats Football and WORMS that New England was the outlier.
When looking at the Texans recent schedule, they are 4-3 in their last seven games and the only legitimately good offense they have faced is Baltimore who beat them 41-3. They have gotten where they are by beating up on a bad division and beating a couple of good but weakened teams in Kansas City and New England.
Now, the Texans take on a Titans team that has made any reader of this site tons of money.
The Titans are averaging 38.3 points per game over their last three games and they have an average margin of victory of almost 20 points in those games. They are a different team with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback and they are balanced out by Derrick Henry’s league best December stats.
In the end, then, this game comes down to a team that is hot versus a team that needs an opponent to play poorly. Houston can’t beat anyone at their best and right now the Titans are at their best.
WORMS helped us get onto the Titans bandwagon, and we might not want to get off anytime soon.
NOTE: If you do like the Titans here, consider betting them to win the AFC South as a win would put them in first with another game to go against Houston. A good way to get double value out of the top Delta of the week.
NE @ CIN
Vegas: NE -10 WORMS: CIN -4 Delta: 14 Spread %: 12 Moneyline %: 3
In the implementation of WORMS, I have learned a lot about gambling. I am going to try to impart one of those lessons in the discussion of this bet.
For a long time, I bet from a place of what I wanted to happen. I developed preconceived notions and looked to bet on things that would validate those notions. In other words I would race to conclusions and then work really hard to find ways to justify them.
What WORMS has taught me, though, is that there are no conclusions. No team is just bad and no team is just good. Circumstances change, schemes evolve, teams gel, injuries happen.
In the case of this game, my preconceived notions are having a hard time seeing Cincinnati as a team that will be competitive in this matchup. Most of that is based on ideas I am holding onto from the first week of the season.
Here are the facts, though: both of these teams are averaging 17 points a game over their last three contests, Cincinnati has allowed fewer points per game in those three at 16.3 versus 20, both of these teams are 1-2 over that same stretch, the combined records of their opponents is not wildly different at 19-20 for Cincinnati and 23-16 for New England.
Clearly, these teams are worlds apart in their organizations and the futures they are both staring at. When we strip away all of the things that don’t affect the game, however, like reputation, respect, and image, then there isn’t a wide margin between how these teams are playing.
I might hesitate to bet the Cincinnati moneyline here, but as you read about on Monday, that same instinct cost me a lot of money a couple of weeks ago when WORMS predicted both Miami and Washington to win.
However you interpret this data, just remember that WORMS is here to provide you with the cold hard reality of the NFL world. That reality is that the Bengals aren’t that bad and the Patriots might just be mediocre.
TB @ DET
Vegas: TB -3.5 WORMS: TB -15.5 Delta: 12 Spread %: 10 Moneyline %: 10
And now we need to talk about how WORMS might struggle this week and the next couple.
There is no way to know for certain, but I have a sneaking suspicion that WORMS will go down as an incredibly strong tool for Weeks 4-14, but one that is inconsistent at the beginning and end of the season.
The reasoning behind my thoughts here are that the end of the season tends to encompass a lot of changes and unpredictability. Case in point David Blough quarterbacking a Lions team with Bo Scarborough as his running back and without Marvin Jones at receiver against the Tampa Bay Bucs who will be starting either Justin Watson or JoJo Natson at receiver.
And that doesn’t even take into account the incentives each team might have to lose and improve their draft stock heading into an uncertain quarterbacking future.
With all that said, though, there is reason to back WORMS’ choice here.
We have made a lot on this website about how Tampa Bay is really an 8-5 team. They had a missed field goal cost them a win against the Giants and they lost another game when a returned fumble was blown dead. Plus they lost in overtime to the Seahawks in a game where the winner of the coin flip was going to win the game.
The Lions meanwhile are reeling. They’ve scored more than 20 points in a game once since Veteran’s Day and their defense has struggled all season long. Tampa Bay has won three in a row and hasn’t scored under 28 in any of those games.
Although there are a ton of other factors in this game, WORMS can still tell us when one team is playing well and the other isn’t. Factor in whatever you want, but at it’s base this game has a Bucs blowout win written all over it.
MIN @ LAC
Vegas: MIN -2.5 WORMS: LAC -8.5 Delta: 11 Spread %: 9 Moneyline %: 6
Ok, this is a weird one. But maybe not one we should totally ignore.
While we as humans are conditioned to look at wins and losses to extrapolate the quality of a team, it is fairly proven that the more useful statistic is point differential.
Although Los Angeles is 5-8, they have a point differential of +38. This is one point less than the 10-3 Packers. That comparison may be slightly misleading as Green Bay is far lower than any other ten win team (remember that come playoff time). The point, however, is that the Chargers are playing like an above .500 team even though they are last in their division.
The Vikings, at first glance, are the far superior team then. They have a point differential of +90, similar to the Kansas City Chiefs. The majority of that was racked up in the first half of the season, where they had five double-digit wins in eight games. Since then, Minnesota had not won a game by more than four points before beating the Lions by 13 this past week. Their point differential over their last five? +10. Without the Detroit win? -3.
In other words, while the Chargers may appear to be a bad team, they are actually far better than their record. And while the Vikings are a good team, they have not been as good recently.
It might take a little mental gymnastics to avoid looking at this game as a cut and dry good team versus bad team, but in doing so we can avoid looking at the surface and find a way to get deeper.
MIA @ NYG
Vegas: NYG -3.5 WORMS: MIA -5.5 Delta: 9 Spread %: 8 Moneyline %: 4
PHI @ WAS
Vegas: PHI -4.5 WORMS: WAS -4.5 Delta: 9 Spread %: 8 Moneyline %: 3
These two games are paired in the fifth spot because they have the same Delta.
They are also paired there together because they fall into the same category of WORMS bets. These are bad teams who Vegas is able to win money on by repeatedly riding the reputation they have in the eyes of the bettors.
As WORMS truthers, though, we know that Miami and Washington aren’t actually that bad.
When we look at their records against the spread, Miami is 7-6 and Washington is 6-7.
Those numbers become a lot more significant, though, when you look at recent trends. Over their last four, Washington is 3-1 ATS. Meanwhile, Miami has won two in a row.
In these specific matchups, Washington faces a depleted Philadelphia team that is coming off an overtime Monday Night game while Miami is facing a depleted Philadelphia team that is coming off an overtime Monday Night game.
These teams have more juice than people give them credit for, are in good situations, and have the potential to make us money yet again.
Of course they could always lose, but WORMS tells us that they have a better chance of winning than they are being given credit for. That’s how we make money around here.