Man vs Machine: Pickswise expert vs the computer model NFL Week 1 best bets

Teddy Bridgewater Denver Broncos quarterback same game parlay
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email
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Man vs Machine

Welcome to the first 2021 edition of Man vs Machine. This NFL season, I’ll be making my five best NFL bets each week. Our Pickswise supercomputer will make its best five bets, and then we’ll compare. May the best man (or machine) win.

Our computer model gives probabilities and projections for the main NFL betting markets (spread, total & money line), best bets for spread, total, money line, and same game parlays. It also features prop bet probabilities for first and anytime touchdown scorer, plus individual player projections for passing, rushing, receiving yards, and touchdowns for betting and fantasy use.

For more information on how the supercomputer works and how it generates picks, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Now let’s look at the picks:

My 5 best bets

Washington -1

I’m high on this Chargers team overall this season, but this is a rough spot for them. Brandon Staley’s first game as a head coach coming on the road in an early kickoff across the country against a ferocious defense. Justin Herbert has never taken a live snap in his new offensive system, and this is the first road game of his pro career with fans in the stands.

Vikings -3

This is a nightmare matchup for Cincinnati. The Bengals’ main weakness is the interior of their offensive line, and one of Minnesota’s main strengths is the interior of their defensive line. Joe Burrow will once again be running for his life, this time on a surgically reconstructed knee.

49ers -7.5

Kyle Shanahan with months to prepare for a Lions team that is expected to be one of the worst in the league? Give me the 49ers all day long. San Francisco has a lot to prove after their down 2020, so don’t expect them to take their foot off the gas.

Broncos -3

Vic Fangio has assembled a defense that should be elite. Daniel Jones isn’t the answer under center, and it seemed this offseason that the Giants have grown tired of Joe Judge’s old school schtick. Denver will roll here.

Saints +3.5

This line is pretty inflated. Who knows what Aaron Rodgers will look like after his offseason of discontent, but we do know his offensive line will be a whole lot worse. Green Bay will be without All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who left in free agency, and All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari.

Computer picks

The computer and I agree on the Broncos and Saints. Our model is also going with the Bills, Dolphins, and Texans. I’d lean Steelers and Patriots on those first two, but I’d have to agree with the machine on Houston. The computer is going with three dogs and two favorites, while I’m going with four favorites and a single dog.

We’re both starting at 0-0, and now we’re off to the races…

2021 Season Results

Pickswise Expert (0-0)
Pickswise Computer (0-0)

Don’t forget to check out our free picks on the side and total for every NFL game. You can also view all of our computer picks here.

How are the pre-game win probabilities calculated?
The Pickswise supercomputer creates pre-game probabilities using machine learning techniques as inputs to a Monte Carlo approach. This means we simulate a sporting event 10,000 times, catering for the deep range of outcomes and probabilities within a given event. We first predict the performance of each individual player based on hundreds of algorithmic variabilities, which we use to run our event simulations.

Why do the win probabilities and predictions change over time?
The probabilities are dynamic in nature and get updated as new information becomes available. This includes but is not limited to team news, weather conditions, and moves in the betting market.

What does a ‘value bet’ mean?
A value bet is where we’ve identified that the probability of the event occurring is more likely than the listed sportsbook odds. Taking these bets gives you an increased chance of being a successful gambler.

How is the change in win probability calculated during a live game?
Live win probability is a statistical metric that projects the team’s likelihood of winning at any given point by simulating the remainder of the game. Based on the performance of historical teams in the same situation and the current state of the game, the model updates in real-time following every major event during the game.

Pickswise is the home of free NFL Picks and NFL Odds. Check out the latest NFL Prop Bets and NFL Parlays as well as expert NFL Underdog Picks and NFL Computer Picks.

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