Are You Good At Picking Football Games? Edgehogs

I haven’t met a die-hard sports fan yet who hasn’t claimed to be able to pick games better than everybody else. Just as I haven’t met a gambler who hasn’t told me that he might have won some and lost some, but he was ahead overall. Edgehogs

Now is your chance to prove your prowess. Log on to Edgehogs and make, track, and compare your picks with others of NFL, MMA, and NCAA games.

There. Did that sound sufficiently compelling? Hope so, because Edgehogs is the sports project whose announcement I promised a couple of months ago. The project is the idea of David Bork, a long-time entrepreneur, Bryan Thistle, a happy-to-be-ex-corporate lawyer, and yours truly.

David and Bryan approached me earlier this year and asked if I had experience rating how good people were at making predictions. Not only was this my specialty (see my list of papers), but I almost had a go at a company like Edgehogs about two years ago.

I didn’t get far because I couldn’t figure how to make the statistics sexy—a task which scholars long thought was impossible. But David and Bryan have done it, as you’ll see. The pair are also providing all the funding for this project, and yours truly is donating sweat, math, and code.

At Edgehogs you can make picks and look at the picks other people have made—even those by TV pundits and professional sportswriters. The innovation is the unique rating of your picking skill, the X-Rating.

The X-Rrating measures not just accuracy, but the difficulty of the picks. You increase your X-Rating by making accurate picks, but you increase it more by making the right choices when everybody else is wrong. The more your correct pick was gauged to be an underdog, the better your rating. And vice versa for incorrect picks. Useful information to gamblers—er, “gamers.”

For example, if 100 people make a pick and each forecasts the Lions will lose, then when they will lose, the X-Ratings for each of these people will barely change. You don’t receive a large reward for making the obvious bet. But if you’re the 101st person who picked the lowly Lions on the week they managed a victory, then you receive a large reward.

We have the historical picks and X-Ratings for a large number of experts. People like Terry Bradshaw, Vinne Iyers, Accuscore, Kirk Herbstreit, Jimmie Johnson, Congrove’s computer, and so on. Many of the X-Ratings for these folks are hidden at the moment, but they’ll be visible very soon (check inside individual events).

Another innovation from David and Bryan are the “X-girls”, pleasing-to-look-at young ladies who are sports fans. They make their own picks and provide their own analyses. These ladies are genuine sports nuts, as well as being professionally pretty.

I’ve unfortunately missed all the photo and video shoots.

Those with keen eyes will notice the video of Beth Miller embedded on the page. Regular readers will understand that I had no input into the choice of music. The reasoning was that younger people, who are the bulk of MMA/NFL fans, prefer, let us call them, non-challenging, repetitive sounds. Plus, I don’t believe an Oscar Peterson accompaniment occurred to the director.

We are not yet fully operational, but we wanted a practical demonstration of the destructive power…wait, wrong venue. We wanted to be up before the NFL season began and as the (surely professional) NCAA league geared up. Mixed martial arts is a sport which is entirely new to me. I had no idea of its popularity, and even after being introduced to it, it still mystifies me.

Sadly, the two best sports, baseball and soccer, will have to wait until next season. As will NASCAR, basketball, and hockey. There are even rumors of adding cricket.

We’re so new that our FAQ is still filled with Latin words (let him that readeth understand), and many features are still hidden or not yet implemented. We’re obviously in beta, and in a soft beta at that. The i-phone app is done but not yet available. Et cetera. More announcements will follow as these features become live.

13 Comments

  1. Congratulations and best of luck with this exciting endeavor! Note, “lorem ipsum” is not Latin but gibberish that is meant to resemble (Ciceronian) Latin and to be used as a placeholder. The idea for using gibberish is that it makes the eye focus on the layout and design rather than on the text/meaning; in our sad day, using actual Latin would likely have the same effect. O tempora O mores ;-).

  2. All you get to see it the home page which has very little explanation. Your explanation is far more detail than I would have guessed from the page. Is horse handicapping included? Or is it sports only? Presumably the money for this comes from somewhere. Would that be potential participants? Having to give my name and e-mail just to find out is against my religion.

  3. PS: Fittingly given the above, the Edgehogs tagline “Fortune favors the bold” was originally rendered “audentes Fortuna iuvat” by Vergil in Book X of the Aeneid.

  4. The site (Edgehogs) ask the participant to pick the straight up winner, which is a lot easier than picking the winner against the point spread.

    Brian Burke ( http://www.advancednflstats.com ) does an excellent job of forecasting straight up winners by a regression which gives the probability of a win, and the probabilities are very accurate.

    Another site ( http://www.thepredictiontracker.com ) lists many people’s predictions (by margin of victory) and many of the people who predict use a formula of some type. The site tracks both straight up winners and ATS winners.

    Good luck with Edgehogs.

  5. Cool site. An old dog like me could navigate it so your team did something right. Even more fun to pick games against the “Statistician to the Stars!”. Will love it when the Raiders once more take the Broncos to the woodshed.

  6. Thanks for the comments, all. Keep ’em coming. A lot of what you mention we’re already attacking. But the more we learn from users, the better.

  7. Went to NCAAFB to start on next week’s picks but could find no way to start early. Seems Monday game outcome is still pending, blocking things up. Would that be a future feature fix?

  8. I hope the advertisements start pouring in soon. When you become rich and famous, please don’t forget a lowly professor who drives a Saturn in a nowhere college town.

  9. Mr Brigs, sir, a statistical question. Assume I have a system to calculate the probability of sporting outcomes. How do I assess its effectiveness? After all, I’m not predicting outcomes. If I say there’s a 70% chance that my favourite horse wins and it loses, it’s not a failure.

  10. Rich,

    Excellent point. If you say 70% and it loses, but I say 10% (to win) and it loses, who’s better? This leads directly in to the post of 8 Sep.

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