Using NFL consensus percentages and computer picks can give you an edge when making your weekly football predictions. But how exactly should you incorporate them into your process? Here are some tips:
- 1 Find a Trusted Source
- 2 Know the Types
- 3 Weight the Data
- 4 Compare Odds
- 5 Check for Line Movement
- 6 Identify Overvalued Teams
- 7 Find Live Underdogs
- 8 Leverage for Teasers/Parlays
- 9 Use for Pool Picks
- 10 Check for Key Injuries
- 11 Trust Significant Trends
- 12 Have a Cutoff
- 13 Evaluate Results
- 14 Stay Disciplined
- 15 Trust Your Instincts
- 16 Have a System
- 17 Be Adaptable
Find a Trusted Source
Not all consensus and computer systems are equal. Do some research to find a source that tracks consensus from major sportsbooks and betting sites. Look for computer systems with strong track records over multiple seasons. Established sources like ESPN Pigskin Pick’em and PredictionMachine.com are good options.
Know the Types
There are different types of free NFL computer picks. Some simulate each game to generate probability odds and picks against the point spread. Others use machine learning models based on historical NFL data. Some provide straight and consensus picks, while others just give win probability percentages. Understand what kind of information you’re getting.
Weight the Data
Don’t just automatically accept the picks. Assign weights to the computer and consensus sources based on their accuracy and your evaluation. Give more weight to more accurate sources. For very close games, consensus can carry more weight.
Look for games where there is a significant difference between your pick, the consensus picks, and the computer picks. This alerts you to games where perceptions may not match reality. Do more research on those games before finalizing your prediction.
Check for Line Movement
Line movement indicates the “smart money” shifting the odds. If a line moved significantly from the opening odds after consensus and computer picks were released, it may signal sharp disagreement with those picks.
Identify Overvalued Teams
Teams that the public overvalues will have inflated consensus pick percentages and lines. Use that to your advantage by picking against those teams when the matchups are close to 50/50.
Find Live Underdogs
Consensus and computers favor favorites, so you can find live underdog opportunities by looking for close matchups where you disagree. Back underdogs with good value at +120 or more on the moneyline.
Consensus favorites with high win probabilities can reduce your risk when grouping them into teasers and parlays. But don’t force poor value just for more legs on a parlay.
Use for Pool Picks
For pick’em pools, eliminating popular choices and going with unpopular computer picks can give you an edge over the public consensus. Just don’t get too extreme.
Check for Key Injuries
Make sure to still do your own research and check for any late-breaking injury news that may not be reflected in earlier consensus and computer picks.
Trust Significant Trends
Look for games where consensus, computers, and your own analysis all align on the same side. Having multiple indicators agreeing reduces the chance you’re wrong.
Have a Cutoff
Set a win probability cutoff (e.g. 60%+) for when you will trust the consensus favorites. For toss-up games, rely more on your own call.
Track your results with and without consensus/computer picks to evaluate their value and make adjustments in your process next week.
Stick with the data even when it disagrees with your gut feelings on your favorite team. Don’t let emotions override the wisdom of the crowd and computers.
Trust Your Instincts
In clear weighted matchups (e.g 70%+ computers and consensus agree) it’s OK to trust the data. But the crowd isn’t always right, so override bad picks with your own research.
Have a System
Develop a structured system for how much weight to give your own analysis versus consensus and computers for different matchup probabilities. Then stick to it.
Stay flexible in your use of consensus and computer data. Weight and trust it more or less as matchups and your results dictate each week.
By properly incorporating consensus and computer intelligence as part of your overall NFL prediction process, you can make better picks without outsourcing everything. Use it to validate or question your own analysis on each matchup. This hybrid approach allows you to benefit from data models while still applying your own football knowledge.