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Seahawks spoil Analytic Investors’ prognostication

Denver running back Knowshon Moreno recovers the ball in the end zone for a Seattle safety.

Alpha beat value on the gridiron this year as the Seattle Seahawks blew away both the Denver Broncos and the annual NFL Alphas forecast from Analytic Investors.

The Seahawks' 43-8 trouncing of the Broncos at Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 was only the second time since Analytic's forecast began in 2004 that its selection to beat the spread was wrong. Matthew Robinson, portfolio analyst at Analytic, had forecast the Broncos would beat the 2-point betting spread and defeat the Seahawks by at least a field goal.

Mr. Robinson said he wasn't the only one to miss. “In Vegas, no one got it right,” he said. “I really thought the Broncos would win.”

Mr. Robinson measures each NFL team at the end of the regular season based on excess performance. In the playoffs, he said, lower-alpha teams in the regular season are undervalued; this year, the Seahawks' alpha was 13.7% vs. the Broncos' 4.6%.

It wasn't long before Mr. Robinson felt his forecast was going south. “From the first snap,” he said, when Bronco center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over the head of quarterback Peyton Manning into the Broncos end zone for a safety. “It seemed like (the Broncos) were never in control. Not even a glimpse.”

Prior to this year, Mr. Robinson's only outright loss was in Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, when the New York Giants beat Mr. Robinson's pick, the New England Patriots, 21-17.

Despite the loss, Mr. Robinson said the theory behind the prediction hasn't changed. “In all reality, if we were right every time, we'd start a sports-betting business,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the February 17, 2014 print issue as, "Seahawks spoil Analytic Investors' prognostication".