In the days between the end of pre-season play and the start of the 2021 regular season, I used pairLab to ask NFL football fans to predict the winners of both the National Football Conference and American Football Conference. I compared their predictions to the professionals, including oddsmaker predictions from several online sports books and casinos and the sports press.
How'd they all do? Let's take a look.
The Cincinnati Bengals were not on the radar to make it to Super Bowl LVI. By anyone.
Both fans and oddsmakers predicted the Bengals to rank 13 or 14, and no sports news outlet I looked at had the Bengals as their winner. When comparing pairLab’s fan-based AFC team rank order with the oddsmakers, they were nearly identical.
In the NFC, fans, sports reporters and oddsmakers did better (fans ranked the Los Angeles Rams in fourth place while oddsmakers had them between second and fourth place). Reporters shined here: the Sports Illustrated and USA Today panels named the Rams to win the NFC.
What does this mean? In September, I concluded that "fans are as likely to predict broad outcomes as oddsmakers, who are driven by economics and have huge resources at their disposal." I still feel this way. Both groups clearly got it wrong, but how do oddsmakers, using pricey big data models, get it just as wrong as fans, who use intuition and emotion? The online betting sites should ask themselves that question.
In any event, this exercise also shows me the value in pairLab. What makes pairLab work for me is its ability to find a group's most-valued ideas very quickly.
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