Unsurprisingly, oddsmakers had trouble getting anywhere near the final scoreboard results in Week One of Alliance of American Football action. Talk about flying blind! All anyone had to work with were rosters, and limited media coverage of one preseason tune-up for each team.
▪ Orlando (-7/54) beat Atlanta 40-6. That missed the team side by 27 points and the Over/Under by eight. Plus, it took a lot of cheap points to get close to the Over/Under. Atlanta had three touchdown drives less than 42 yards off turnovers.
▪ San Antonio (-1.5/54) beat San Diego 15-6. That missed the team side by 7.5 points and the Over/Under by 33. The visiting fleet received some sharp game day betting because the host Commanders had made a quarterback switch. San Diego joined Atlanta on the list of losers that couldn’t even score a touchdown.
▪ Birmingham (-3/47) beat Memphis 26-0. That missed the team side by 23 points and the Over/Under by 21. Sunday’s Over/Unders were adjusted downward dramatically after offenses had such trouble moving the ball Saturday.
▪ Arizona (-4/50) beat Salt Lake 38-22 in the opening weekend’s only shootout. That missed the team side by 12 points and the Over/Under by 10 points.
All told, odds on all eight betting propositions missed the mark by a touchdown or more. Six of the eight missed by double digits.
If you’re thinking about betting the NFL’s developmental league, the good news is that “the market” is as uninformed as it’s every going to be about a major TV wagering sport. You’ll have a chance to outwork the most important betting influences as the lines gradually catch up to reality.
It’s possible that Over/Unders should be in the 30’s when the worst offenses play each other, but closer to the 60’s when effective offenses are on the field with rules designed to encourage shootouts. And, it’s already pretty clear that the top contenders should be a lot more than touchdown favorites at home vs. also-rans. From low to high, victory margins were 9, 16, 26, and 34.
Should YOU bet the AAF? It could be right up your alley. Mississippi is the home of a very educated football fanbase. Three of the eight developmental teams are within a half-day’s drive of Biloxi (Birmingham, Memphis, and Atlanta). It’s basically a “sun belt” league accept for Salt Lake. Football is a year-round sport in the south. You know solid fundamentals when you see them, and, when you don’t.
Just remember that it can be dangerous to judge any team off just one performance. Visitors went 0-4 straight up and against the spread last week. Maybe starting from scratch on the road is just too difficult for brand new teams with limited preparation time.
That said, it was fairly clear that moving the ball in the air without throwing interceptions is likely to be a key to success in this league. There’s likely a “parity” of skill sets amongst the class of athletes right on the cusp of NFL rosters (relatively few individuals can truly “star” in the NFL, many more are right at the cut-off line for making a roster). Clean execution will beat sloppiness in that environment.
▪ Best team passing performances in Week One: Arizona 18-29-0-275, Birmingham 19-33-0-252, Orlando 17-27-0-236.
▪ Worst team passing performances: Memphis 13-27-2-109, Salt Lake 17-35-2-159, Atlanta 19-35-3-164, San Diego 20-35-3-244 (high yardage, but not touchdowns because of three picks and six sacks).
San Antonio was in-between, with good yardage but two interceptions on a passing line of 18-37-2-255.
If you’re game, keep an eye on how oddsmakers and informed money adjust this week. Matchups are: Salt Lake at Birmingham (TNT, Saturday 1 p.m.), Arizona at Memphis (NFL Network, Saturday 7 p.m.), Orlando at San Antonio (CBS Sports Network, Sunday 3 p.m.), and Atlanta at San Diego (NFL Network, Sunday 7 p.m.)
VSiN returns Saturday to look at another big day of college basketball action. That will include a preview of #1 Tennessee at #5 Kentucky, the first meeting this season of the SEC’s national superpowers.