The start of the NFL season brings with it an increase in gambling activity. Sports bettors — from the new and recreational to the experienced and serious — aim to win more than they lose in 2022.
Segal, a Florida-based attorney and University of Florida grad, is the man behind Freezing Cold Takes’ @OldTakesExposed, Twitter’s destination for steaming sports proclamations turned to ice. Segal started his Twitter page in 2015 and is well on his way to 600k followers. That’s just Twitter. His brand can be found across a range of social media sites including Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
What is Freezing Cold Takes?
Freezing Cold Takes pokes lighthearted fun at sports personalities and commentators — professional and amateur — for prophetic sports declarations that ultimately crash and burn in a blaze of glory. The unwanted kind.
Many stories are best without the constraints of 280 characters, and Segal’s new book offers detail behind some of the NFL’s most iconic “bad bets.” Tucked underneath the added context are lessons and insights bettors can fold into their approach and preparation ahead of a new season of NFL wagering.
Knowing what we know now, it’s almost difficult to believe that NFL experts panned the Baltimore Ravens following the 1996 NFL Draft for selecting two future Hall of Famers instead of a troubled running back. Or that a respected, veteran NFL journalist suggested the New England Patriots move their head coach search away from Bill Belichick. And the list goes on with interesting and insightful details that help explain the thought processes behind some of the head-scratching decisions and subsequent hot takes.
For the uninitiated, check out this pro-Atlanta Falcons tweet for an example of how Segal’s Freezing Cold Takes works:
Matt Ryan + Julio Jones + Calvin Ridley + Kyle Pitts? 😳
Who is stopping this Atlanta offense? pic.twitter.com/yj7HsbkEMA
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 18, 2021
Who’s stopping that Atlanta offense? Um, just about everyone. They finished the 2021 season ranked 26th in points for and 28th in DVOA, an advanced efficiency metric.
Consider the Purpose of Hot Takes
Segal has accumulated enviable insight since starting his Twitter account seven years ago. He conducted hours of research as he wrote his book.
Segal admits that he’s more cynical about what he hears and reads.
“What’s the purpose?” Segal asks himself when presented with a tasty soundbite.
“So much of what I see is people reacting in the moment or saying things because they need something to say,” Segal told Gaming Today last week. “The more the platform is for entertainment, the less I pay attention to it.”
And in today’s age of around-the-clock coverage, there is no shortage of takes, adds Segal.
Why do these networks and platforms exist if not to entertain? With so much competition throughout the media industry, outlets invent ways to stay at the forefront of people’s minds and keep them tuned in. That leaves bettors to filter through what often amounts to nonsense.
“There’s so much desire for content and the actual things that happen are boring,” Segal said in relation to the entertainment goals of networks and platforms. Simple facts are often the most relevant, but they don’t drive ratings like a colorful debate or “Best of” list.
“What Have You Done for Me Lately?”
The definition of recency bias is “a cognitive bias that favors recent events over historic ones.” A brilliant performance on a nationally broadcast game often overstays its welcome in fans’ and bettors’ memories. This is natural and not inherently negative, but it’s important to understand the potential pitfalls from a gambling perspective.
Successfully projecting performance largely hinges on maintaining steadiness amid the ebbs and flows of sports. That means not placing an inappropriate amount of weight on the highs and lows of small samples.
“I think so much of the commentary is based on how you played the game or season before,” Segal said. “If you start off 3-0, everyone focuses on the positives. Predictions might have more hyperbole because of that.”
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) August 1, 2022
Recency Bias Affects Odds
Segal sees this phenomenon playing out at the expense of a pair of recent league MVPs.
“People are souring on Patrick Mahomes. People are souring on Lamar Jackson. Just based on recent playoff losses,” he said.
NFL MVP odds and fantasy football rankings provide tangible examples of Segal’s observation. Mahomes, +900 to win the NFL MVP award at DraftKings Sportsbook, is priced behind Josh Allen (+700) and Tom Brady (+800). Jackson, meanwhile, is +2000 at DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook. Those odds are longer than Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Matthew Stafford among others.
The reduced price tags on Mahomes and Jackson in fantasy drafts illustrate further evidence of recency bias. Both players, prohibitively priced a season or two ago, are attractive, relatively affordable investments in 2022.
It’s easier said than done, but bettors should challenge themselves to maintain balanced outlooks even as players and teams navigate ups and downs.
Freezing Cold Takes: NFL and the Power of ‘I Don’t Know’
Nobody likes to admit ignorance, but bettors should appreciate how powerful a tool the three-word phrase “I don’t know” is to have in their arsenal.
It may sound simple: Let what you know — and what you don’t know — guide your betting decisions. However, simplicity is often the foundation of sound strategy. The NFL is a volatile game, which makes gambling on it incredibly challenging. That’s the case even in “ideal” situations, let alone when additional unknowns and variables are factored into the equation.
Bettors never have complete information feeding their wagering decisions. The best anyone can hope for is an educated guess, and even the most well-informed in the industry, from oddsmakers to beat reporters, get their educated guesses wildly wrong.
Segal points out Super Bowl 42’s double-digit point spread as an example of how badly the best miss, as the Giants, 12.5-point underdogs, handed the Patriots a 17-14 outright defeat.
Numerous poorly aged NFL Draft-related takes further underscore what often happens when we try to project what we can’t possibly know. This is particularly common when it comes to evaluating new coaching hires.
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) August 1, 2022
“Journalists don’t often have the luxury of taking a wait-and-see approach,” Segal said. Sportswriters and talking heads would not remain at their posts for long if they shirked their responsibility to deliver answers that only time can reveal.
That’s not the case for bettors, who can channel their inner Ruth Langmore (language warning on that link!) without fear of ridicule or repercussion.
Bettors able to demonstrate discipline, patience, and persistence put themselves in position to succeed more consistently. Discipline to avoid placing wagers in areas in which they’re under-educated or under-informed; patience to let helpful samples of data — quantitative and qualitative — accumulate; and persistence to continuously fold additional knowledge, insight, and context into existing information.
Segal’s NFL Betting Advice
Finally, Segal warns, “Be careful what’s geared to the masses.”
Even shows focused on sports betting need to be taken with a grain of salt. Like anything else on the air, they’re focused on entertaining consumers, not necessarily delivering the best advice.
Sports betting is a thrilling way to invest more skin in the game. It’s also an extremely difficult hobby to become “good” at — professional bettors win only 53-55 percent of their bets.
Whether you’re dipping your toe in the water for the first time or trying to improve upon recent betting performances, Fred Segal’s Freezing Cold Takes: NFL reveals lessons that every bettor can build into his or her approach.