This is a true and deep love. Perhaps even an everlasting love.

Let’s compare ESPN’s FPI projections to current market estimates:

Team Market ESPN
Alabama 74.13% 47.00%
Clemson 54.95% 67.00%
Ohio State 37.50% 37.00%
Georgia 32.05% 46.00%
Washington 26.97% 41.00%
Michigan 19.80% 8.00%
Wisconsin 15.29% 11.00%
Auburn 11.83% 17.00%
Oklahoma 16.16% 24.00%
Penn State 15.61% 16.00%
Michigan State 9.76% 15.00%
Notre Dame 9.14% 42.00%
Texas 9.14% 3.00%
Miami 8.39% 7.00%
Florida State 7.71% 1.00%
Stanford 6.75% 6.00%
USC 6.18% 2.00%
LSU 4.94% NL
Mississippi State 4.94% 3.00%
West Virginia 4.70% NL
Texas A&M 4.40% NL
Oregon 3.82% 0.01
Virginia Tech 3.21% NL
TCU 3.21% NL
Florida 2.82% NL
Nebraska 1.24% NL
Oklahoma State 1.24% 1.00%

Let’s start at the top: ESPN says Alabama is more likely to miss the playoff than make it. That’s seems bonkers. They are quite optimistic about Clemson’s chances. They are also quite high on Georgia, Oklahoma, and Washington. We’ll see how that goes for them. However, nothing compares to their confidence in Notre Dame.

The market price on Notre Dame allows some room for discussion, but 42% to make the playoff? 10% to win the National Title? You can shop around and find prices on Notre Dame at better than 50-1 to be crowned champions. This is a bold opinion.

Please note, if we count Oregon and Florida State at 1%, ESPN has a 5% chance someone not listed makes the playoff. Market estimates have a 4.1% chance that someone not listed will make the playoff. Of course, that’s with seven addition teams listed. Let’s give ESPN at $10K bankroll and limitless credit and see what they recommend:

Team Playoffs?! Risked To Win
Alabama Out 2933 8800
Clemson In 1915 1321
Ohio State Out 195 118
Georgia In 1600 1880
Washington In 1418 3120
Michigan Out 5320 1097
Wisconsin Out 2300 383
Auburn In 514 3600
Oklahoma In 748 3440
Penn State Out 400 80
Michigan State In 192 1250
Notre Dame In 3308 21500
Texas Out 6175 526
Miami No Bet 0 0
Florida State Out 8490 602
Stanford No Bet 0 0
USC Out 6300 360
LSU Out 7650 340
Mississippi State Out 2950 131
West Virginia Out 7525 317
Texas A&M Out 7325 284
Oregon Out 6850 225
Virginia Tech Out 6150 164
TCU Out 6150 164
Florida Out 5650 133
Nebraska Out 900 10
Oklahoma State Out 900 10

Please note, for wagering purposes I’ve capped the chances of a team missing the playoff at 99%. If I had an additional significant digit from ESPN, so of these wagers might be quite a bit larger.

Here are there projections with what they’ve written about them:

http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/24310810/introducing-college-football-playoff-predictor-which-likes-clemson-better-alabama

And a video:

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=24315236

 

 

 

 

 

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I ran the scout grades for the individual roster units to see how things were looking for the 2018 season and there were… some surprises. I’ll go division by division:

AFC East- Yes the Patriots are on top, but the the Bills aren’t nearly as far behind as I would have assumed. The Bills appear to have a reasonably competent roster, while the Jets and Dolphins have a lot of work to do. Note, this is just roster-based, so it doesn’t take the Patriots coaching edge into account.

AFC North- The Browns have been making progress, but it will take some time.

AFC South- I was surprised the Texans didn’t get more love. If Deshaun Watson stays healthy, they look like a scary team. Jaguars are loaded despite the constant Blake Bortles problem.

AFC West- Not a whole lot separating the teams in the division. I’m surprised the Broncos roster grades out as well as it does. The Chargers are considered dark-horses to take the AFC, but their roster might not be up to snuff.

NFC East- The Eagles are in great shape. The only major problem for them is that they’ll face some tough competition in the playoffs.

NFC North- WHAT??? The Vikings graded out with a slightly better roster, but the Lions have the easier schedule. The Packers roster, apart from Rodgers, is garbage. The Vikings and Packers implied Pythags¬†are well beyond those of the Lions, so I’m pretty skeptical. Of note is the gap between the Eagles and Vikings, which is quite a bit larger than I was expecting.

NFC South- The Saints have been getting a lot of love as their offense is expected to dominate. The Falcons are right there with them though. The Panthers defense looks solid, but the offense isn’t as stacked.

NFC West- The Rams look like monsters. The Seahawks roster has fallen off considerably (imagine the offense without Russell Wilson). The 49ers roster has been improved, with Jimmy G. being the key.

These are a lot less important than the previously mentioned implied Pythags, but they do provide a distant-early warning that some teams lack the depth that’s required over a season of attrition.

One final note: The NFC as a whole looks quite a bit stronger than the AFC. We’ll see how that plays out during the regular season.

New England Patriots 10.54
Buffalo Bills 7.81
New York Jets 5.12
Miami Dolphins 4.74
Pittsburgh Steelers 10.87
Baltimore Ravens 7.76
Cincinnati Bengals 6.03
Cleveland Browns 4.97
Jacksonville Jaguars 9.93
Tennessee Titans 8.23
Houston Texans 7.87
Indianapolis Colts 6.09
Los Angeles Chargers 8.86
Denver Broncos 8.17
Kansas City Chiefs 7.89
Oakland Raiders 7.37
Philadelphia Eagles 11.39
Dallas Cowboys 8.2
New York Giants 6.12
Washington Redskins 5.98
Detroit Lions 9.31
Minnesota Vikings 9.27
Green Bay Packers 8.47
Chicago Bears 6.41
New Orleans Saints 10.66
Atlanta Falcons 10.5
Carolina Panthers 8.55
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6.16
Los Angeles Rams 10.76
San Francisco 49ers 8.19
Seattle Seahawks 7.46
Arizona Cardinals 6.47

These were taken from the NFL Season Win Totals and then adjusted by schedule. Since the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the NFL (again), they took the largest hit. That wasn’t enough to knock them from the top spot though. Apart from the Steelers, no one in the AFC is close. Of course, they own the Steelers, so yes, the Patriots remain the AFC favorites.

The NFC has three elite teams, with the Saints and Packers nipping at their heels.

Despite going 1-31 over the past two seasons, the Browns are not at the bottom of the Pythags. That spot belongs to the woeful Jets. The Bills and Dolphins also sit in the bottom six. Sigh.

New England Patriots 0.6693
Philadelphia Eagles 0.6439
Pittsburgh Steelers 0.6335
Los Angeles Rams 0.6264
Minnesota Vikings 0.6258
New Orleans Saints 0.5948
Green Bay Packers 0.5901
Los Angeles Chargers 0.5633
Atlanta Falcons 0.5632
Jacksonville Jaguars 0.5569
Houston Texans 0.5295
Carolina Panthers 0.5201
Dallas Cowboys 0.519
Kansas City Chiefs 0.5188
Baltimore Ravens 0.5004
San Francisco 49ers 0.4983
Oakland Raiders 0.4887
Tennessee Titans 0.4877
Seattle Seahawks 0.483
Detroit Lions 0.4658
New York Giants 0.4622
Denver Broncos 0.4529
Cincinnati Bengals 0.4398
Washington Redskins 0.4322
Indianapolis Colts 0.4289
Chicago Bears 0.4189
Miami Dolphins 0.4124
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0.3942
Arizona Cardinals 0.3929
Cleveland Browns 0.3736
Buffalo Bills 0.3598
New York Jets 0.3495

I must say that there isn’t a lot separating the top teams. I suspect France isn’t this good. Portugal as well. England might be quite a bit better than this would suggest, but they’re England, so they’ll find a way to flame out anyway.

Personally I’ll be rooting for Japan for make it out of the group stage. After that, we’ll see.

Brazil 0.8362
Germany 0.8286
Spain 0.8266
France 0.8194
Argentina 0.7994
Belgium 0.7757
England 0.7408
Uruguay 0.7248
Colombia 0.6763
Portugal 0.6570
Croatia 0.6565
Poland 0.5892
Russia 0.5526
Denmark 0.5490
Senegal 0.5020
Mexico 0.4867
Switzerland 0.4708
Peru 0.4623
Serbia 0.4214
Sweden 0.4120
Egypt 0.3832
Japan 0.3725
Nigeria 0.3637
Morocco 0.3316
Iceland 0.3193
Tunisia 0.3147
Australia 0.2648
Korea Republic 0.2539
Iran 0.2291
Costa Rica 0.2202
Panama 0.1700
Saudi Arabia 0.1646

In their groups

Uruguay 0.7248
Russia 0.5526
Egypt 0.3832
Saudi Arabia 0.1646
Spain 0.8266
Morocco 0.3316
Portugal 0.6570
Iran 0.2291
France 0.8194
Peru 0.4623
Australia 0.2648
Denmark 0.5490
Croatia 0.6565
Argentina 0.7994
Nigeria 0.3637
Iceland 0.3193
Switzerland 0.4708
Brazil 0.8362
Serbia 0.4214
Costa Rica 0.2202
Sweden 0.4120
Germany 0.8286
Korea Republic 0.2539
Mexico 0.4867
England 0.7408
Belgium 0.7757
Tunisia 0.3147
Panama 0.1700
Poland 0.5892
Senegal 0.5020
Colombia 0.6763
Japan 0.3725

538 got off to a rough start before the playoffs even began:

Those predictions were hilariously off-market at the time. Golden State was roughly pick’em to win the West, while the Cavs were the slight favorites in the East. The playoffs themselves haven’t gone better for 538’s model:

538 Risked To Win Result
Spurs 3557 23616 -3557
Raptors 3700 617 617
Sixers 2800 560 560
Pelicans 978 1760 1760
Celtics 3034 1920 1920
Pacers 1207 5456 -1207
Jazz 467 560 560
Timberwolves 187 2800 -187
Pelicans R2 3071 19840 -3071
Jazz R2 1640 16400 -1640
Celtics R2 1168 4790 4790
Raptors R2 2048 1113 -2048
Celtics R3 1521 3680 -1521
Rockets R3 6733 12120 -6733
Cavaliers R4 1300 10010 0
Current Tab -9757

They’re down 97.57% of their starting bankroll. They aren’t giving up hope though, attempting to win it all back through one huge upset. That takes balls (and an off-market model).

ESPN is dodging more losses, although that’s due to some luck on their part. They are underrating both Cleveland and Golden State, which is balancing out to get a roughly accurate series line:

ESPN Risked To Win Result
Spurs 450 2988 -450
Raptors 900 150 150
Heat 375 1500 -375
Pass 0 0 0
Celtics 3808 2410 2410
Pacers 3527 15944 -3527
Thunder 2715 2011 -2715
Rockets 7182 264 264
Pass 0 0 0
Jazz R2 1200 12000 -1200
Celtics R2 3905 16010 16010
Raptors R2 6592 3583 -6592
Celtics R3 6010 14545 -6010
Rockets R3 4436 7984 -4436
Pass 0 0 0
Current Tab -6471

Being down 64.71% of their bankroll is not particularly something to celebrate. Mind you, if we were going game-by-game, they’d be on Cleveland in game one, but that’s a story for another blog.

Finally, Nylon Calculus is ending their playoff run down a measly 5.74%:

Nylon Calculus Risked To Win Result
Spurs 450 2988 -450
Pass 0 0 0
Heat 125 500 -125
Pelicans 1444 2600 2600
Bucks 57 80 -57
Pacers 841 3800 -841
Pass 0 0 0
Timberwolves 293 4400 -293
Pelicans R2 1599 10329 -1599
Jazz R2 1266 12660 -1266
Celtics R2 1952 8003 8003
Raptors R2 1366 743 -1366
Celtics R3 2001 4843 -2001
Rockets R3 3179 5722 -3179
Pass 0 0 0
Current Tab -574

They too would be backing the Cavs game-by-game, but on the series line, they escape with no further damage.

 

ESPN is investing their Celtics winnings fairly heavily as they have both the Celtics and Rockets as favorites to advance:

ESPN Risked To Win Result
Spurs 450 2988 -450
Raptors 900 150 150
Heat 375 1500 -375
Pass 0 0 0
Celtics 3808 2410 2410
Pacers 3527 15944 -3527
Thunder 2715 2011 -2715
Rockets 7182 264 264
Pass 0 0 0
Jazz R2 1200 12000 -1200
Celtics R2 3905 16010 16010
Raptors R2 6592 3583 -6592
Celtics R3 6010 14545 0
Rockets R3 4436 7984 0
Current Tab 3975

538 has the Rockets at 79% to advance to the finals. That’s a lot of confidence against the reigning NBA champions. For what it’s worth, they also have the Rockets at 69% to win the title, which is nice.

538 Risked To Win Result
Spurs 3557 23616 -3557
Raptors 3700 617 617
Sixers 2800 560 560
Pelicans 978 1760 1760
Celtics 3034 1920 1920
Pacers 1207 5456 -1207
Jazz 467 560 560
Timberwolves 187 2800 -187
Pelicans R2 3071 19840 -3071
Jazz R2 1640 16400 -1640
Celtics R2 1168 4790 4790
Raptors R2 2048 1113 -2048
Celtics R3 1521 3680 0
Rockets R3 6733 12120 0
Current Tab -1503

Nylon Calculus isn’t being quite as bold as 538 or ESPN, but they also have the Rockets favored, and are risking a bit under 52% of their bankroll on the conference finals. For the record, that’s insane, just less so than ESPN or 538.

Nylon Calculus Risked To Win Result
Spurs 450 2988 -450
Pass 0 0 0
Heat 125 500 -125
Pelicans 1444 2600 2600
Bucks 57 80 -57
Pacers 841 3800 -841
Pass 0 0 0
Timberwolves 293 4400 -293
Pelicans R2 1599 10329 -1599
Jazz R2 1266 12660 -1266
Celtics R2 1952 8003 8003
Raptors R2 1366 743 -1366
Celtics R3 2001 4843 0
Rockets R3 3179 5722 0
Current Tab 4606

 

ESPN is going full bore on the Raptors (They have them winning the series 88% of the time!):

ESPN Risked To Win Result
Spurs 450 2988 -450
Raptors 900 150 150
Heat 375 1500 -375
Pass 0 0 0
Celtics 3808 2410 2410
Pacers 3527 15944 -3527
Thunder 2715 2011 -2715
Rockets 7182 264 264
Pass 0 0 0
Jazz R2 1200 12000 0
Celtics R2 3905 16010 0
Raptors R2 6592 3583 0
Current Tab -4243

538 is confident, but not insanely so:

538 Risked To Win Result
Spurs 3557 23616 -3557
Raptors 3700 617 617
Sixers 2800 560 560
Pelicans 978 1760 1760
Celtics 3034 1920 1920
Pacers 1207 5456 -1207
Jazz 467 560 560
Timberwolves 187 2800 -187
Pelicans R2 3071 19840 0
Jazz R2 1640 16400 0
Celtics R2 1168 4790 0
Raptors R2 2048 1113 0
Current Tab 467

Finally, Nylon Calculus is more cautious still:

Nylon Calculus Risked To Win Result
Spurs 450 2988 -450
Pass 0 0 0
Heat 125 500 -125
Pelicans 1444 2600 2600
Bucks 57 80 -57
Pacers 841 3800 -841
Pass 0 0 0
Timberwolves 293 4400 -293
Pelicans R2 1599 10329 0
Jazz R2 1266 12660 0
Celtics R2 1952 8003 0
Raptors R2 1366 743 0
Current Tab 834