Surprise! ESPN Analysts Aren’t Actual Analysts

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ESPN on-air talent is mostly made up of former players disguised as analysts and communications majors as the play-by-play or “straight guy”. To be fair most sports on television is set up like this. Players are trusted by the general public to offer an educated opinion based on their experience. That’s a fallacy. The Linemakers shed light on this after analyzing ESPN’s analysis of the NFL schedule earlier this week.

ESPN asked each of the 32 team experts for their predictions of the regular-season records for the teams they cover. ESPN admits the predictions were made independently of other experts, and that’s great, because we want to see what each of these “experts” honestly and independently think without consulting with their cohorts around the league.

Still …. with 32 teams playing 16 games, there are a total of 256 games. Thus, there are 256 winners and 256 losers (ties aside). So when these reporters predicted the regular-season records, we should see exactly 256 winners and 256 losers. But of course, that isn’t what happened.

When the 32 “experts” predicted the each team’s 2014 record after seeing the NFL schedule released on Wednesday:

— There were 290 “wins” and only 222 “losses”

— Only five teams were projected to finish sub-.500: the Redskins (7-9), Bills (7-9), Jaguars (7-9), Browns (6-10) and Raiders (5-11)

–13 teams were projected to record double-digit wins

For comparison, over the last three years, an average of 14 teams per year finished sub-.500.

Furthermore, projecting 290 wins equates to 9.1 wins per team. Essentially, on average, these “experts” project the average team will be BETTER than 9-7! Again, ludicrous and impossible.

I’m not going to bash ESPN because they’re an entertainment network more than a place for analysis. In fact, most of what you see on TV is for mainstream entertainment. It’s a shame that we need to police what’s on TV but it’s great that people like Warren Sharp can analyze this information and share the truth.

Without getting too preachy, it’s important to be aware of what the mainstream media passes of as fact if you bet on sports – especially football. Football is the most popular sport on TV and most popular sport to bet on. The general betting public listens to these talking heads and bets based on this information. While some of the information shared by the talking heads on TV may be true it’s not all true and it’s not all based on fact.

Knowing when false information is being shared on TV is helpful. Use that information to your advantage when betting. There’s a place for mainstream information and a place for analytical information. When combined you have a powerful combination. You can see that by the podcasts I listen to.

Linemakers Gets a Thumbs Up

When you are just talking who is going to win or lose a football game, it can often get pretty boring. There are a few good games each week, but for the most part it’s one good team against one not-so-good team and the team that should win is fairly clear. Because of this, sports commentary often likes to talk about winners and losers against the spread rather than dead even. But this is about as close to the world of gambling as mainstream media is willing to get. That is until recently when Discovery Theater HD started airing the show Linemakers.

Linemakers is a fairly low budget operation that has casino odds-makers sitting in a forum-like setting at South Point. When the show first aired I thought it was going to be about the line-makers and how they do their jobs and set lines. But I was happily surprised that it’s going to be a weekly commentary about how the casinos and bettors fared during the previous week’s sporting events.

It’s very interesting to hear which games killed the casinos and which ones even the sharps had wrong. The show isn’t very visually stimulating but from a content standpoint is pretty interesting. Anyone who enjoys wagering on sporting events and would like to know how the public wagered and the effects there-of would be wise to tune into this show. I don’t know how long it’ll be on since it is so low budget and on such a random network (Velocity/Discovery), but for the time being it is the only show to talk about sports solely from the gambling side.

(ED: This show is great background noise if you like sports talk like I do.)