Sports Betting

NFL Betting: Tips on how to approach wagers on win-loss records

With the sports betting calendar fairly limited in late July, you’re now hearing a lot of predictions for the coming pro football season. Be careful placing too much weight on them. Too many in the mainstream and sports betting media are good at bluster and bad at math.

Regarding NFL “Regular Season Win Totals,” it’s not uncommon to hear a pundit say something like “if they win all their home games, they’ll only have to win two or three on the road to cash the ticket.” Like, it’s that easy to win all your home games in a parity-packed league!

It’s much harder to go 7-1 or 8-0 at home than many realize. Only five teams managed it last season (New England, Kansas City, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles Rams), three the year before (Philadelphia, Minnesota, New Orleans). None of those were duplicates.

The key here is that too many casual fans and pseudo-experts equate “being favored” with winning the game. Even a team that’s favored by point spreads in seven or eight home games won’t be expected to win that many.

Imagine a team that’s a 60% favorite to win every home game. Will they go 8-0 because they’re always favored? Believe it or not, that projects to 4.8 wins and 3.2 losses. (Easy math, eight games times .60 is 4.8).

A team that’s a 70% favorite to win every home game is projected to finish with 5.6 wins and 2.4 losses. Seventy percent is a high number, and we’re nowhere near 7-1 or 8-0 yet.

Even an 80% favorite in every game would be projected to finish with 6.4 wins and 1.6 losses. At 80% we’re not even “rounding” to 7-1 yet, let alone 8-0.

A team must be 82% in every game to “round” up to seven wins, 88% for a solid seven.

How many NFL teams do you believe are 88% to win each of their home games?

If you’re not used to thinking in percentages, let’s do it with point spreads. In standard point spread to money line conversions, a 3-point favorite is about 60% to win the game, a 6-point favorite is about 70%, an 8.5 or 9-point favorite is about 80%, and an 11.5-point favorite is about 88%.

Whenever you hear somebody say they believe an NFL team is going to go 7-1 at home, ask them if they think that team will be about a 10-point favorite in every home game? They’ll probably say “No, that’s crazy.” But…in market terms it’s the same thing. Assuming up front that the team you’re betting will go 7-1 at home is crazy except for super elites (who still have to stay healthy).

Even the powerful New Orleans Saints, co-favorites with the Los Angeles Rams to win the NFC this coming season, aren’t “expected” to win seven home games with their current “Regular Season Win Total” in the marketplace at 10.5.

Bottom line…don’t assume your favorite team or your top sleeper pick is going to win all of its coin flips. Assessments must reflect real-world math, or you’ll just be gambling on whether or not you get lucky. Sharps bet edges and let luck take care of itself.

Other Notes

The NFL preseason is less than a week away! Thursday brings the annual Hall of Fame game from Canton, Ohio featuring the Denver Broncos vs. the Atlanta Falcons (NBC, 7 p.m.). Oddsmakers posted an opener of pick-em that was quickly bet to Atlanta -2.5.

New Orleans begins its exhibition slate eight days later, hosting the Minnesota Vikings Friday August 9.

In college football betting news, the South Point in Las Vegas updated its odds to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy this week. Current co-favorites are quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson at +275 on the money line (for either…risk $100 to win $275).

Those two stars alone gobble up much of the win expectancy. Next on the list at 10/1 apiece are Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma (after transferring from Alabama), Justin Fields of Ohio State, and Adrian Martinez of Nebraska.

Select notables from the SEC: Jake Fromm of Georgia 20/1, Jerry Jeudy of Alabama 50/1, Kelly Mond Texas A&M 60/1, Joe Burrow of LSU 150/1, and Keytaon Thompson of Mississippi State 300/1.

The official college kickoff is a month away, with two games set for Saturday August 24. Florida of the SEC will battle Miami of the ACC on a neutral field in Orlando (ESPN, 6 p.m.). Later, Arizona of the Pac 12 visits Hawaii of the Mountain West (CBS Sports, 9:30 p.m.). Current lines at the South Point are Florida -7, and Arizona -11. The rest of college football gets rolling the following Saturday.

Jeff Fogle writes the daily VSiN newsletter. Sign up at VSiN.com/newsletter
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