Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bill knows about as much about football betting as he does about baseball, or anything related to sports really (part 1)

The title says it all.  Just read this horseshit.
I posted my last Playoff Gambling Manifesto in January of 2006 right before the NFL playoffs turned into a glorified crapshoot. That particular document contained 15 gambling "rules" that I created from 1991 to 2005, along with my buddy Geoff, during an extended trial-and-error period that left more than a few scars and bruises. For instance, you only learn a rule like "Never bet on a playoff team coached by Marty Schottenheimer" once you've said things like, "The next time you hear me say that I'm betting on Marty Schottenheimer in January, just swing an ax into my chest."
Now there's a point I won't argue with him.  Poor Marty.  Poor Cleveland.  I won't say poor Kansas City, because fuck Kansas City.  
And you know what? The Manifesto actually worked. 
No it didn't.  You were lucky for a while.
When New England won back-to-back Super Bowls, I finished 14-8 against the spread in those two postseasons. 
I'm sure that had nothing to do with the fact that your favorite team, for which you are a huge homer, won six straight during those two postseasons.
Everything flipped in January, 2006, right when I posted Manifesto 4.0. Over the next six postseasons, I staggered to a middling 31-34-1 record, 
Because you're not that smart and got unlucky.  Nothing flipped.  Nothing changed.  Football was played exactly the same way.  You had exactly the same amount of knowledge.  It's just that consistently picking winners is hard, and you were unable to do so for a really long time.  You're a fucktard for thinking there is any other explanation for that 31-34-1 stretch, but of course that shouldn't surprise anyone.
slowly drifting away from the Manifesto as the league stopped making sense. These last two postseasons, I went 15-7 by obeying a stripped-down set of rules (we'll get to them). 
Hey, you got lucky again!  Good for you.  I hope you donated the money to charity.
Still, I'm not sure people realize how wonky these last eight postseasons were.
Allow me to demonstrate, point by point, why that's fucking idiotic.

Since January 2006 …

• The league's two best teams by record only faced off in one Super Bowl: the '09 Saints versus '09 Colts (combined records: 31-5).
Yeah, back when Bill was putting together his brilliant original manifesto, that used to happen ALL THE DAMN TIME.  By which I mean, looking all the way back to 1990, the only other times it happened were in 1992 (Redskins and Bills) and 2002 (Raiders and Buccaneers).   
• The no. 1–ranked DVOA team only made one Super Bowl … (long gulp) … yup, the '07 Pats. Only two other top-three DVOA teams made a Super Bowl: the '10 Packers (third) beat the '10 Steelers (second). The last top-two team in DVOA to actually win the title? The '04 Pats, who finished first. In other words, keep your guard up, Seahawks fans.
There was a nice streak of top ranked DVOA teams making the Super Bowl in the late 90s, but the only other one to have done so in the 21st century besides the 2007 GREATRIOTS was the 2002 Buccaneers.

• Underdogs covered six of the last seven Super Bowls and won four outright: the '07 Giants (12-point dogs); the '09 Saints (five-point dogs); the '11 Giants (2.5-point dogs); and the '12 Ravens (4.5-point dogs). The previous four underdogs to win a Super Bowl outright: the '02 Bucs, '01 Pats, '97 Broncos and '90 Giants.
This is not useful as trend information (especially in the case of sub-5 point underdogs winning outright WOW WACKY WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT?????) unless one of the planks of your manifesto is "always bet on the favorite."

• It's really important to clinch a Round 1 bye, right? Well, the '08 Steelers and '09 Saints were the only bye week teams to win Super Bowls. The Bye Weekers only finished over .500 in the playoffs once, in 2009, when they went 6-3. They never went "chalk," finishing 29-30 overall. By contrast, from 1998 through 2004, the Bye Weekers won six of seven Super Bowls, went "chalk" three times (in 1998, 2002 and 2004), and never dipped below .500 (finishing 40-22 overall).
This is actually useful information, and is also something everyone who pays even the slightest attention to the NFL has been hearing nonstop for the past several years.

• Three teams won a Super Bowl without hosting a playoff game: the '05 Steelers, '07 Giants and '10 Packers. From 1966 through 2004, that only happened twice.
Only useful information if one of the planks of your manifesto is "If a 5 seed or 6 seed makes the Super Bowl, do not bet on them to win under any circumstances.  They just won three straight on the road--what makes you think that they'll be able to win at a neutral site?"  This is perhaps more useful when applied as an analytical tool for conference championship home vs. road results (or divisional round home vs. road results, already covered above), but then you look at the results and see that home teams were only 18-14 in conference championship games from 1990-2005.

• The '08 Cardinals went 9-7 and somehow lost the title in the final minute, on the highest degree-of-difficulty game-winning pass in Super Bowl history. Three years later, the '11 Giants became the first 9-7 team to win the title, as well as the only Super Bowl champ that gave up more regular-season points than it scored. I will get over this at some point in my life. Probably not this decade or next decade. But at some point.
Yes, the difference in talent between the teams with the best records and the teams with the 9-7 or 10-6 records during any given season is perhaps less pronounced than it used to be.  This is only useful information if one of the planks of your manifesto was "Always bet on the team with the better record."

• Five of the last six Super Bowls were nail-biters that included at least one unforgettable moment: David Tyree catching a season-saving football off his helmet and then never making another professional catch in his entire life (Super Bowl XLII); James Harrison's insane touchdown and the semi-miraculous Roethlisberger/Holmes game-winning touchdown (Super Bowl XLIII); Peyton Manning's season-ending pick-six (Super Bowl XLIV); Brady just missing Welker for a potential season-clinching TD that I can still see when I fall asleep at night (Super Bowl XLVI); and the blackout and all the other unforgettable stuff that happened during that Ravens-Niners barn burner (Super Bowl XLVII).
All true.  All irrelevant in a discussion about gambling, but thanks for maintaining that "the sun shines on the world because Bill Simmons casts his eyes upon it" tone of self-importance Marchman (and others) have pointed out.

• We've had one significant Round 2 upset for eight straight Januarys: the '05 Steelers in Indy (+9.5 underdogs); the '06 Pats in San Diego (+4.5); the '07 Chargers in Indianapolis (+11); the '08 Cards in Carolina (+10); the '09 Jets in San Diego (+8.5); the '10 Jets in New England (+9); the '11 Giants in Green Bay (+8.5); and the '12 Ravens in Denver (+9). Good lord! Seven of those were MONSTER upsets, too. Kudos to the Greatest Quarterback of All Time, Peyton Manning, for somehow being on the wrong side of three of them! (Sorry, I had to.)

I don't have the point spreads on these, but I'm sure they were all at least +4.5 (or in some cases, if they weren't, the road teams blew out the home teams so badly that it was definitely a notable outcome)--the 2003 Panthers beat the 12-4 Rams in Saint Louis, the 2003 Colts beat the 13-3 Chiefs in Kansas City, the 2001 Eagles stomped the 13-3 Bears in Chicago, the 2000 Ravens stomped the 13-3 Titans in Nashville, the 1999 Titans beat the 13-3 Colts in Indy, and I could go on and on, but the point is that Bill is a fucking dolt.  Also, big ups to Tom Brady, Obviously the Greatest Quarterback of All Time Because Everyone Knows Peyton Manning Sux LOL, for being on the wrong side of the Ravens' (+8) upset of the Patriots in last year's AFC Championship game.

• We've had two stunning conference title game upsets: the '07 Giants (nine-point underdogs in Green Bay) and '12 Ravens (7.5-point dogs in New England). And we had one semi-mildly stunning upset that wasn't so stunning because we'd already learned that you should never bet against God, puppies and gambling theories hatched in Pakistan: the '08 Cards as four-point home dogs over Philly.
Wow, can't believe he even bothered to mention that Patriots loss.  I'm surprised there isn't a Grantland Ministry of Information assigned to edit out any negative references to Boston area teams, even those made by Simmons himself.  Anyways, again, no clue on the point spreads but I'm sure they were big and/or the result was a huge blowout--the 1999 Titans crushed the 14-2 Jaguars in Jacksonville, the 2001 Patriots beat the 13-3 Steelers in Pittsburgh, the 2004 Patriots crushed the 15-1 Steelers in Pittsburgh, and the 2005 Steelers crushed the 13-3 Broncos in Denver.  But no, really, believe Bill when he says that he used to have a PERFECT manifesto for betting on NFL playoff games.  It wasn't just that he had a good lucky streak, which was followed by an unlucky streak.  It was that in 2006 everything that had been totally predictable went SUPER CRAZY and all this stuff that had never happened before started happening.

• From 2000 through 2006, only three times did a matchup feature a playoff team that had won four or more games than its opponent: Eagles-Vikings in 2004, Steelers-Jets in 2004, and Bears-Seahawks in 2006. All three times, the better team won. From 2007 through 2011, those matchups happened at least twice per postseason and an unbelievable 14 times overall. Seven of those 14 games were won by the vastly inferior team, including two by .500-or-under teams playing at home and as 7-plus-point underdogs (the 2010 Seahawks and 2011 Broncos).
Another sort of useful piece of information that parallels the divisional round road team record thing: there appears to be more parity in the NFL than there used to be.  If that trend destroys your manifesto, your manifesto was dogshit to begin with.

• For anyone making proclamations this week like "I just don't trust Andy Dalton in January," please remember that, in the last eight postseasons, (a) Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Grossman started Super Bowl games; 
Matt Hasselbeck was pretty good.  He was three-time Pro Bowler with almost 35,000 career passing yards.  Rex Grossman was not very good, but the 2006 Bears were very good.  Not sure what's WACKY about this.  In 1994 Stan Humphries started a Super Bowl.  In 1995 Neil O'Donnell did too.  In 1998 Chris Chandler did the same.  Which world did Bill come from in which only Hall of Famers were allowed to start Super Bowls.
It's almost like the Jets HAD A REALLY GOOD DEFENSE IN 2009 AND 2010.
(c) Matt Schaub won a playoff game only 12 months ago and just nine months before he became a bleary-eyed carcass; 
First time in history a 30-something athlete has gone from pretty good to pretty crappy in 12 months.
You forgot (d).
(e) Jake Delhomme won consecutive road playoff games; and (f) Tim Tebow won a playoff game … in overtime … by completing an 80-yard touchdown pass.

• In the last eight postseasons, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are 19-16 combined, with two Super Bowl titles.

• In the last eight postseasons, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, and Joe Flacco are 21-9 combined, with three Super Bowl titles.

• Read those last two paragraphs again.

So I ask you again … how can you give your gambling career over to a Playoff Manifesto when all hell has apparently broken loose????
I KNOW RIGHT????  Good thing you've fixed all those problems and now your system will be totally perfect again, like it was as of January 2006, when a comet passed too close to Earth and secretly jumbled everything up!  We'll take a look at it next week.  In the meantime, I'll post Bill's picks (from the end of this article) and provide my own analysis.  I'm not saying I'm going to do better than him, I'm just saying he's a moron and as someone who regularly watches the NFL, I have as much gambling acumen as he does.  It's just that unlike him, I don't pretend to have CRACKED THE CODE.  I'm not a self-important cunt like that.

Chiefs +1 @ Colts

Bill's Pick: Colts 27, Chiefs 14
My Pick: As I type this, it's 31-10 Chiefs shortly before halftime.  I'd like to laugh in Bill's face, but if I'm being honest, I also thought Indy would win this game by at least a TD.  I GUESS THAT'S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOLKS.
Saints +2.5 @ Eagles

Bill's Pick: Eagles 34, Saints 22
My Pick: Saints 28, Eagles 21.  Call me crazy.  I know dome teams are terrible outdoors in the playoffs.  I just feel like the Eagles aren't that good, and will be in a "we're just happy to be here" mood.  Their season is already a success.  The Saints will get it done somehow.  Or not.  Who the fuck knows.
Chargers +7 @ Bengals
Bill's Pick: Cincinnati 27, San Diego 23 
My Pick: Cincinnati 31, San Diego 17.  I don't think it'll be all that close.  Cincy's defense is too good.  If the Chargers pull off the upset it'll be because Andy Dalton turned the ball over like five times, like he did in that Thursday night game against the Dolphins a couple months ago.  I lost $10 on that game.  Fuck you, Andy Dalton.  Obviously you care about my gambling stories, and obviously I'm still bitter.
49ers -3 @ Packers

Bill's Pick: San Francisco 41, Green Bay 20
My Pick: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 20.  God I hate Packers fans.  I hope this doesn't happen.  I like the Niners a lot, I just feel like neither team is going to be able to move the ball much on the ground, while Rodgers and Cobb will hook up for some big plays and Kaepernick has a bad game.  Notice that I didn't say anything about the weather, because if you watch this game tomorrow, the announcers are going to talk about the weather during about 90% of their air time.  You're welcome.
Yeah, so I'm picking against Bill's spread pick in all three remaining games, and picking a different winner in two of them.  Did I do that on purpose to be contrarian?  Probably.  Could you be just as successful at picking against the spread as Bill (or me) by flipping a coin?  Probably. Is Bill Simmons an asshat when it comes to gambling?  Definitely.  Is Bill Simmons an asshat when it comes to any other topic?  Again, definitely. 


Donnie Dewsh said...

Simmons regular season NFL picks finished a stunningly horrific 108-140-8 this season. I'm enrolling in an arithmetic for adults class soon but isn't that a couple of standard deviations worse than expected coin flipping results?


Chris W said...

if i'm not mistaken, standard deviation for 256 coin flips should be 8. The average record should be 128-128 and he's 20 off of that, so he's more than 2 SD off a coin flip

Anonymous said...

I love when Simmons writes articles on "rules". You can always count on a few things:

-Stat cherry-picking
-Rules that are either totally trivial or totally ambiguous
-Abdicating all responsibility when the rules fail to work.
-Complete shock when somewhat unlikely events happen.

Big Bolo Tie said...

I can't sleep wondering if Simmons will pick the Broncs in a reverse jinxs move this week. Actually, the thought of Manning losing another playoff game with the better team has left me unable to concentrate.

Anonymous said...

Bill Simmons is douchey, but I only find his schtick annoying and mocking it entertaining. BBWAA voters on the other hand literally anger me and I don't so much mock them as vent at their ridiculous positions and godawful sanctimony. Hail to Dan le Batard.

tony harding said...

Did you see this week's column? He wastes all that time making up rules, and in 3 of the 4, he goes against his made up rules. Why make your own goddam rules if you aren't even going to follow them? Not to mention the numerical rating system he had for coaches and QBs. Mike McCoy jumped 3 points in his BS "ratings" in 1 week. It's sad when the only sport you are well versed in is WWE (or Road Rules)...