Man vs Machine: Pickswise expert vs the computer model NFL Week 15 best bets

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Andrew Ortenberg

NFL· 1 month ago

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I'm an editor 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.

Man vs Machine

Welcome to the 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

Jets +9.5 over Dolphins

Call me crazy, but I’m backing Zach Wilson. I just can’t imagine laying more than a touchdown with Tua Tagovailoa, especially now that he’s going to be without top wideout Jaylen Waddle. Waddle has caught at least eight passes in each of his last three games, and his absence will prove to be huge.

Panthers +13 over Bills

I’m going with another huge underdog here. The Bills are a bit of a mess right now, and I’m not giving them too much credit for almost completing a comeback against Tampa Bay. They were getting destroyed most of that game, then snuck back in when the Bucs took their foot off the gas.

Bengals +3 over Broncos

On the lookahead line for this game a week ago, the Bengals were favorites. Now they are underdogs of a field goal just because they’ve had a couple of key injuries? That seems like an overreaction to me.

Vikings -5.5 over Bears

Give me primetime Kirk Cousins for Monday Night Football. The Bears are a dumpster fire, and they have given up a whopping 78 points over their last two games. Chicago’s coaching staff has been wrecked by COVID as well.

Washington +6.5

It looks like Washington is going to get back either Kyle Allen or Taylor Heinicke, which means there’s no way I could lay close to a full touchdown with a hobbled Jalen Hurts.

Computer picks

Jets +9.5 over Dolphins, Panthers +13 over Bills, Ravens +7 over Packers, Vikings -5.5 over Bears, Washington +6.5 over Eagles

Well, this is something I don’t think has ever happened. The computer and I are on four of the same sides this week. The only difference is that I’m on the Bengals, while the system is on the Ravens for our respective fifth picks. Clearly the computer isn’t too worried about Lamar Jackson’s health. Last week I went a disappointing 0-5, while the computer went 2-3. Hopefully we both can improve for Week 15….

2021 season results

Pickswise Expert (33-37)
Pickswise Computer (41-28-1)

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.

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 have 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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