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NFL Season Over/Under Wins

NFL Season Over/Under Wins

NFL Season Over/Under Wins
By Teddy Covers

In last week’s column, I wrote about my personal process for assessing NFL Season Win Totals, calling those totals “the single most profitable set of wagers that I’ve found in my 15 years as a professional bettor living in Las Vegas.”  I also wrote in detail about the first step of that process – identifying accurate strength of schedule numbers from last year, to better gauge whether teams overachieved or underachieved in 2012; giving me a superior starting point to begin my analysis for this year.

I closed out the article with these two paragraphs: “The New York Giants faced single toughest schedule from last year based on my numbers on the weeks the games were played.  The Saints weren’t far behind.  Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Baltimore and St Louis all faced abnormally tough slates.

“On the easy side, the Colts, Texans and Bengals all stood out; by far the three easiest schedules in the league.  Miami, Atlanta and San Diego also had much easier than average slates.  In my next column, I’ll write about the next step in the process -- identifying accurate strength of schedule numbers for 2013.”

Unfortunately, I can’t do that this week for one simple reason – we haven’t seen enough sportsbooks post season win total numbers yet!  I expected to see a handful of books here in Vegas and offshore besides the LVH and the Cantor Gaming books post win totals last week, but that hasn’t happened.

Instead, I’ll write about where the earliest of the early money is going.  That early money is most assuredly a strong ‘leading indicator’ of where the future money is likely to flow.  In other words, we don’t see many wiseguy head fakes when it comes to season win totals (betting the opposite of what they really want in an effort to create a much broader market after other books copy those numbers) to get more significant wagers down.

Cantor was the first to post win total numbers; and it’s no surprise that their numbers have moved the most in early summer betting.  The prevailing rule of thumb for NFL Win Totals is that a half game is worth at least 50 cents of juice  For example betting a team Over 7.5 (-160) has approximately the same level of expectation as betting Over 8 (-110). 

We’ve seen the Cantor books move the win total for four teams, all of whom took significant Over money.  Books do NOT like to move their numbers – adjusting the juice is a vastly superior option. The last thing any sportsbook director wants to see is a team finishing the season by landing on one of the two numbers, ensuring a push or a win for virtually anyone who bet.

That being said, this early in the process, adjusting a win total number by a half win is a vastly superior option to getting hammered with wagers on an off-market number.  Money that comes in over the summer dwarves the money that flows in the first week or two that the numbers are posted.  In other words, the risk of moving off a number is much less now than it will be a month or two from now.

Here are the four teams that early bettors have gotten heavily involved with Overs, forcing Cantor to move their opening numbers.  All updated numbers are accurate as of Sunday, June 2, and this grouping of the four biggest line moves are all from the Cantor books:

Cleveland Over/Under 5.5 wins (-110 each way) is now Cleveland Over/Under 6 wins (-135 to the Over). 

Kansas City Over/Under 6.5 wins (-110 each way) is now KC Over/Under 7 wins (-160 to the Over).

Miami Over/Under 6.5 wins (-120 to the Over at the opener) is now Miami Over/Under 7.5 wins (-145 to the Over); the biggest move of all!

And St Louis Over/Under 6.5 wins (-110) is now St Louis Over/Under 7 (-165 to the Over).
The LVH opened their numbers after Cantor, and were able to take advantage of the information available surrounding those early ‘strong opinion’ teams.  Jay Kornegay opened the Browns O/U 6, (with the Over -130), and that number hasn’t moved.  The Chiefs opened O/U 7 wins (with the Over -145), and has been bet up slightly; with the Over now at -155.

The Dolphins opened at LVH at O/U 7.5 (with the Over -135), moving slightly down to Over -130 since.  And the Rams opened at O/U 7.5 wins at LVH (with the Under -140) and bettors continued to support St Louis at that number – the Under is down to -120 as I write this.

This doesn’t mean that LVH’s numbers were sharper than Cantor’s.  It only means that LVH was able to take advantage of the knowledge they gained about the emerging markets from Cantor’s first to market numbers.

That being said, the LVH offered variance on 13 of the 32 NFL teams compared to Cantor’s numbers.  As described above, Cantor moved the line on four of those teams, leaving nine teams with some variance between books as of late Sunday Night.

Here are the nine teams with current variance.  Both Cantor and LVH are dealing bettor friendly 20 cent juice on their season win total lines:

At LVH, Baltimore is lined O/U 8.5 wins with the Over at -140.  At Cantor, the Ravens are lined at 9 wins, with the Over at +110.  Note how the ’50 cents of juice equals approximately half a win’ theorem is in play here (and elsewhere on this list).

At LVH, Denver is lined at O/U 11.5 wins, with the Over at +110.  At Cantor, the Broncos are lined at 11 wins, with the Over at -160.

At LVH, Green Bay is lined at O/U 10 wins with the Over at -120.  At Cantor, the Packers are lined at 10.5 wins, with the Over at +115.

At LVH, Houston is lined at O/U 10 wins with the Over at -130.  At Cantor, the Texans are lined at O/U 10.5 wins, with Over at +120.

At LVH, Minnesota is lined at O/U 7.5 wins, -110 each way.  At Cantor, the Vikings are lined at O/U 7 wins, with the Over at -150.

At LVH, New England is lined at O/U 11.5 wins with the Over at +130.  At Cantor, the Patriots are lined as an 11 win team, with the Over at -140.

At LVH, Pittsburgh is lined at O/U 9 wins with the Over at -140.  At Cantor, the Steelers are lined at O/U 9.5 wins, with the Over at +125.  Here is one instance where there is more than a 50 cent differential between the two lines right now.

At LVH, San Francisco is lined at O/U 11.5 wins with the Over at +135.  At Cantor, the 49ers are lined as an 11 win team with the Over at -125.  It’s worth noting that Cantor’s number on San Francisco hasn’t moved from their opener.  The LVH took an opinion here with their opener, and they’ve seen an early 30 cent line move as a result, after opening San Fran with the Over at +105.

Seattle has the most dramatic current variance as of late Sunday night.  At Cantor, the Seahawks are lined O/U 10 wins and the -120 juice on the Over hasn’t moved since the opener.  At LVH, the Seahawks opened at O/U 10.5 wins -110 each way, and they haven’t moved their number off the opener either!

I’m hoping that by next week, we’ll have enough near virgin numbers out there to write about what my definition of accurate strength of schedule numbers for 2013 actually means.  If we don’t, it’s not too early to discuss WHY the early bettors are supporting or fading the squads that have been bet heavily in early action.  This week’s column was a bit too heavy on the ‘what happened’ and not heavy enough on the ‘why it happened’, which merits significant future discussion.

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Re: NFL Season Over/Under Wins

NFL Season Over/Under Wins
By Teddy Covers

I’ve written a couple of columns about the first NFL win totals posted here in Las Vegas. Now that the betting markets are starting to mature, it’s time to take another look at the Over/Under win totals for all 32 teams for the coming year. This week’s focus is on strength of schedule for the upcoming campaign.

I closed out my last column on NFL win totals by looking back at last year’s final strength of schedule, based on my power rating numbers for each opponent on the week that the game was played. Here was my final assessment: 

“The New York Giants faced single toughest schedule from last year based on my numbers on the weeks the games were played. The Saints weren’t far behind. Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Baltimore and St Louis all faced abnormally tough slates.
“On the easy side, the Colts, Texans and Bengals all stood out; by far the three easiest schedules in the league. Miami, Atlanta and San Diego also had much easier than average slates. In my next column, I’ll write about the next step in the process -- identifying accurate strength of schedule numbers for 2013.”

That was last year. What about this year? NFL schedules vary dramatically from year to year. The league provides a breakdown of the upcoming schedules in the spring when schedules for the upcoming season are posted. You’ll find the strength of schedules listed in just about every preseason publication available, based entirely on last year’s win-loss records. 

There is a fairly mainstream, standard formula. Simply add up the win-loss record from last year for their opponent in each of the 16 games on the slate and voila – you’ve got the easiest strength of schedule determination available.

The good news for us is that this information is widely available and quoted everywhere. The oddsmakers use this information when setting their season Over/Under win totals for the upcoming season. In addition, much of the betting marketplace relies on these numbers when making their own wagers. 

This is good news for us because the win-loss record of last year’s teams means very little in reality when it comes to projecting three things. First, how good those teams actually were to earn those varying records. Second, how tough a schedule those teams faced to earn that win-loss record. And third, how good those teams will actually be in the upcoming season.

I’ve already focused on how tough a schedule every team faced to earn that win-loss record from last year. Now the focus shifts towards how good their opponents actually are supposed to be this year!
Let me start with the ‘standard’ formula, based on last year’s records. According to those numbers, the Carolina Panthers face the single toughest schedule for the upcoming season. Detroit, New Orleans, St Louis, Baltimore and Green Bay aren’t far behind.

At the easy end of the spectrum based on the mainstream formula are the Denver Broncos, with the single easiest slate in the league (thanks entirely to the rest of the AFC West finishing a combined 13-35 last year). San Diego, Indianapolis, Oakland, Kansas City, Houston and Buffalo also face much easier than average slates.

My numbers show that those mainstream formula numbers are more than a little bit misleading. The ‘wiseguy’ numbers are not based on last year’s faulty win-loss records. Rather, they’re based on the projected strength and weaknesses of each team in 2013, based on THIS YEAR’s current Over/Under win totals as set by the betting marketplace. 

Look at last year for some clear illustrations of why the mainstream formula is so flawed. Coming into 2012, the mainstream formula said that the New York Giants would face the toughest schedule in the league, with Denver, Cleveland, St Louis, Baltimore and San Diego not far behind. On the easy end of the spectrum were the Patriots, Packers, Bills, Texans, Titans and Bucs.

When we looked at the actual results at the end of the season, we saw a different picture than those mainstream projections. The Patriots, Packers and Titans all ended up playing much TOUGHER than average slates. Meanwhile, four of the six teams projected to have the toughest slates in the league ended up facing easier than average slates (Denver, San Diego, Cleveland and Baltimore). 

Bettors who concentrated on 2012 strength of schedule numbers based on season win totals – the formula I’m touting here -- had a much better chance to accurately predict how tough or weak any team’s schedule was going to be. Arizona, New Orleans, the New York Giants, Cleveland and Baltimore were projected to have five of the six toughest schedules in the league. Not one of those teams – even the Super Bowl champion Ravens, who were widely lined as a ten win team last summer (they finished 10-6)– cashed an Over ticket for their supporters in the season win totals betting marketplace.

So where are the major discrepancies this year? All over the place! As I listed above, the standard formula has Carolina, Detroit, New Orleans, St Louis, Baltimore and Green Bay face the toughest schedules. Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, Oakland, Kansas City, Houston and Buffalo face the easiest ones. Does that hold water?

Not based on this year’s numbers! Based on this year’s win totals, the toughest schedules in the league are Baltimore, Washington, Minnesota, Carolina, Arizona and St Louis. In other words, only two of the six teams match! 

Washington’s strength of schedule ranks #18 in the mainstream formula, compared to a top five ranking in terms of difficulty based on the ‘wiseguy’ formula. And while the mainstream media reports about the Lions tough slate, the savvy bettor has already noticed that Detroit’s strength of schedule ranking this year is right at the league average AND the Lions have the single biggest percentage drop-off in strength of schedule between 2012 and 2013. Obviously, based on the wiseguy formula, you’ll come up with some very different conclusions compared to the mainstream formula.

There is more correlation between betting numbers and mainstream numbers for the weaker slates. My numbers show Pittsburgh, Houston, Indianapolis, Denver, Kansas City and San Diego face the easiest slates, with the Steelers the lone outlier from the mainstream grouping. 

That being said, there is plenty of discrepancy in the middle of the rankings as well. The mainstream rankings have both Seattle and San Francisco facing off against tougher than average schedule. The wiseguys know that the combined projected records for both squads complete slate of opponents is below .500. 

Meanwhile, the mainstream formula tells a story that both the Giants and Cowboys face easier than average slates this year. The wiseguy numbers, based on this year’s win totals, tells us that both the Cowboys and Giants face tougher than average slates. 

Developing accurate strength of schedule numbers for the upcoming campaign is no easy task, but these ‘wiseguy’ numbers are absolutely essential when it comes to accurately predicting final regular season records. Bettors who do their homework in this area have a legitimate edge over bettors who don’t.

239989 Posts
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Re: NFL Season Over/Under Wins

2013 NFL Win Total Best Bets
By Mark Franco

Here are my top three Win Total selections for 2013 season.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Under 5 (+110)

The Jaguars have a combined seven wins the previous two seasons, which includes a 2-14 record in 2012, and I just don’t see this team improving by more than three wins in 2013. The Jaguars may not be favored in any game this season, plus they have a new rookie head coach in Gus Bradley.

Looking at the Jacksonville schedule, I believe they have eight automatic losses – at Seattle, at Denver, at Houston, at Indianapolis, at St Louis and at home vs. Colts, Texans, and the 49ers.

I only see three winnable games at most, which are road games at Oakland and Arizona and Buffalo at home.
When you factor in the eight losses, the Jaguars would have to go 6-2 in their other eight games to beat me and I don’t see that happening. It will be another tough year for the young Jaguars.

Buffalo Bills - Under 6.5 (-130)

Buffalo has not had a winning season since 2004, when it went 9-7. Since then, the team hasn’t been better than 7-9 and the last four years have seen three 6-10 records and a 4-12 ledger. Similar to the Jaguars, they have a new head coach in Doug Marrone from Syracuse. Also similar to Jacksonville, they will continue having problems at quarterback. Kevin Kolb is coming over from Arizona and they have a rookie behind him in E.J. Manual who they drafted out of Florida State.

The Bills have just six wins versus the AFC East over the last five seasons. Buffalo has tough games outside of their division in Carolina, Baltimore, Cincinnati, at New Orleans, at Pittsburgh, Atlanta and at Tampa Bay.

When you add in four tough games vs. division rivals New England and Miami, I believe the Bills are in for a long season and I can’t see them winning seven or more games in 2013.

New York Jets – Under 6.5 (-135)

The infamous duo of head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez will begin the fifth season together and most pundits, including myself, believe it will be the last. The New York Jets franchise had their problems the last two seasons, going 8-8 and 6-10 after reaching the AFC Championship the two prior seasons (2009, 2010).

It will not be long before the Jets fans are calling for Sanchez, if he’s the starting quarterback, and coach Ryan’s heads. Waiting in the wings at quarterback is rookie Geno Smith from West Virginia, who has a lot of work to do to become an average signal caller at this level.

The Jets schedule plays out with difficult non-division road contests at Atlanta, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Carolina which I don’t see them winning any one of those. Plus I don’t see them winning division road games against the Dolphins or Patriots either, which brings their loss tally to six.

There are a few games that look like possible wins – home contests against Buffalo, Oakland and Cleveland. On the road, they might have chances at Tennessee and Buffalo. However, backing a team that’s gone 5-11 as a visitor the last two seasons isn’t a sound investment.

The Jets won six games last season and the best case I see for this dysfunctional team is five wins come 2013.

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