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Good or bad, fight will be one for the books

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

Circle Saturday August 26 on your calendar! Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor inside the squared circle (not an octagon) is officially set for the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Even though it’s not expected to be a competitive bout, it’s likely to be one of the biggest sports betting events of 2017.

Boxing: Mayweather a huge favorite over McGregor, but props will be plentiful!
When early buzz started about a potential meeting between these two “pugilistic attractions,” betting lines were posted all over Vegas. Chris Andrews told Ron Flatter Wednesday on “My Guys in the Desert” that the South Point opened the bout at Mayweather -2500 weeks ago. And, then said “we have yet to write a ticket on Mayweather.”

The price is now down to Mayweather -1100, McGregor 700 at the South Point, Westgate, and other locales. That means you’d have to risk $1,100 to win $100 on Mayweather, while a $100 bet on McGregor would win $700. 

Experts agree that Mayweather is extremely likely to win. Many consider it more of a circus than a sporting event. But as Ron and Chris discussed with VSiN MMA enthusiasts Brett Lawson and Reynolds (about 30 minutes into Wednesday’s 60-minute show if you’re checking out the replay), oddsmakers will find a way to tap into betting interest with a variety of props that will make it less of a circus. How many rounds (or minutes) will McGregor last? How many punches will McGregor throw? Sportsbooks have a little more than two months to come up with creative ways to add depth to the electricity and spectacle. 

Can it be a “mega-fight” if it’s not even expected to be much of a fight? Fans want to bet! There will be plenty of options on the board.

Our own Matt Youmans has a special report Thursday on the VSiN home page with additional context and insights.

Additional Reading
Details on the announcement from the Las Vegas Review Journal 
More talk about the betting angles from ESPN Chalk
D​eadspin takes a “no holds barred” approach when evaluating the hype

US Open: Rory McIlroy fades to 13/1 at the South Point
Though global betting prices haven’t changed much since we linked to the betfair exchange yesterday, the South Point has seen surprising disinterest in Rory McIlroy.

Odds as of late Wednesday

  • Dustin Johnson 4/1 (was 3/1 late Tuesday)
  • Jordan Spieth 8/1 
  • Jason Day 10/1
  • Jon Rahm 10/1
  • Rory McIlroy 13/1 (was 9/1 late Tuesday)

Heavy rain Wednesday looks to have created a course that will play very long while not providing much ball roll on drives. As a result, many pundits are projecting “big bombers” to do well. You’ve heard our hosts discuss that with a variety of guests this week. Let’s see how those five top betting choices rank in tour driving distance in 2017

Driving Distance Rankings
1…Dustin Johnson 312.1
13…Jon Rahm 305.1
32…Jason Day 298.8
86…Jordan Spieth 291.6

Rory McIlroy hasn’t played enough PGA rounds in 2017 to qualify for this year’s rankings, but clocks in at 308.5 in his 12 measured rounds. That would place him fifth on tour, and would certainly qualify him as a “big bomber” if he’s regained full health. 

We mentioned yesterday that Rickie Fowler is a popular choice at 15/1 for many respected bettors and analysts. He ranks fractionally behind Jason Day at #33 with a mark of 298.5 yards-per-drive.

In Friday’s newsletter, we’ll recap key stats from Thursday’s opening round. Then, next Monday we’ll analyze which key stats launched the 2017 champion to the trophy ceremony. Be sure to watch VSiN programming all through the tournament for scoreboard updates, prop alerts, and recap analysis of head-to-head matchups. (And, don’t forget that free subscribers to VSiN City also receive a PDF file of the South Point betting sheets every day. Those will REALLY magnify your enjoyment of the event if you’re watching the live.) 

Additional Reading
The Golf Channel reviews this week’s course criticism
CBS Sports polls experts on picks, locks, sleepers, and surprises
VSiN’s Matt Youmans outlines the week, looks at special props, and provides best bets

MLB: Rightso Rizzo Replay! Another leadoff home run, but Cubs lose to Mets
For the second straight night, Anthony Rizzo led off the game with a home run after his move to the top spot in the batting order. That would help launch the Chicago Cubs to a 4-1 early lead over the New York Mets. They were outscored 8-0 the rest of the game to lose 9-1. That dropped the Cubs back below .500 for the season at 32-33. They’re down about 16.5 betting units in 2017 because the disappointing defending World Champs are so expensive to back on a nightly basis. 

Other Wednesday MLB Notes

  • Defending AL Champion Cleveland continues to mirror Chicago’s demise. The Indians lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4. They’re now 31-31 for the season, down about 16 betting units. The big surprise so far in this series is the collapse of Cleveland’s bullpen! The best bullpen in the majors turned 2-2 ties after seven innings Tuesday and Wednesday into a pair of losses. The Dodgers scored 9 earned runs in 5.1 innings of Cleveland relief work. Cleveland drops to 1-9 in Interleague play. 
  • That home loss for the Indians in IL was noteworthy because the American League is now having a more profitable season in ROAD games than at home. What had been a clear money edge for AL hosts now looks like this through Wednesday’s action….

 

  • American League overall: 75-54 (plus 18.9 units)
  • American League at home: 36-22 (plus 8.6 units)
  • American League on the road: 39-32 (plus 10.3 units)

The raw won-lost record is better at home…but AL hosts are often such big favorites that losses are more painful to the profit column. Kansas City (plus 140) and Boston (-115) were both road winners Wednesday. 

  • You probably noticed that lot of runs were scored Wednesday in the Majors. We’ll lead into our next headline with a look at league Over/Under breakdowns. By our count…

National League games are 209-181-18 to the Over this season

American League games are 190-190-20 on totals this season
Interleague games are 69-56-2 to the Over this season

So, games involving National League teams are 278-237-20 to the Over, while the market has been much more in sync with the American League. 

MLB: New scientific evidence that the ball is JUICED!
You may have heard Gill Alexander reference this development in the final minutes of “A Numbers Game” Wednesday. He’ll provide more depth for you Thursday. If you’d like to jump into the topic right now please read this article from The Ringer put together by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman.

It’s a long, comprehensive presentation fitting the importance of the theme. You can’t make claims like that without very strong evidence! Let’s hopscotch our way through three key paragraphs to summarize…

“This year’s MLB batters have hit 2,395 home runs, which puts them on pace to break the all-time single-season record of 5,693, set in 2000, by almost 350 homers.”

“Late last year, Mitchell Lichtman commissioned independent ball-testing in an effort to confirm or refute the altered-ball hypothesis.”

“The testing revealed significant differences in balls used after the 2015 All-Star break in each of the components that could affect the flight of the ball, in the directions we would have expected based on the massive hike in home run rate.” (emphasis VSiN’s)

That’s the essence of the project. The full scope of the dynamics is worth your time if you get a chance to read the lengthy article. It now seems reasonable to assume that a combination of a change in the standard baseball used in the Majors is working in harmony with an increased emphasis on swing angle to create a huge jump in home run counts since the All-Star Break of 2015. 

If you’re trying to pick winners on sides, totals, 5-inning props, the -1.5 runline, and so on, it’s important to know which players and teams are helped or hurt by this development. It’s very likely a REAL development rather than a short-term fluke that’s going to regress to the mean. Adjust your strategies accordingly. 

Gill will talk more about this Thursday on “A Numbers Game.” 

NFL: Will NFC South launch a third straight Super Bowl entry?
Last season the Atlanta Falcons won the NFC, and came seconds away from winning the Super Bowl. The year prior, it was the Carolina Panthers of the NFC South that represented the conference in the big game. Summer “Regular Season Win Totals” in Las Vegas are projecting all four divisional teams will play at least .500 ball. Can another battle-tested entry make it to February?

Atlanta Falcons
2017 Regular Season Win Estimate: 9.5
Odds to win NFC: 5/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 25/1

2016 Record: 11-5 
Yards-per-Play: 6.7 on offense, 5.6 allowed
Third Down Conversions: 42% on offense, 42% allowed

Passing: 9.2 yards-per-pass attempt, 38 TD’s, 7 interceptions thrown
Pass defense: 6.9 yards-per-pass attempt, 31 TD’s allowed, 12 interceptions 

Defensive Impact: 22 takeaways, 34 sacks

Atlanta’s offense was definitely championship caliber last season…as those marks of 6.7 yards-per-play and 9.2 yards-per-pass attempt are off-the-charts for the league as a whole. The problem, of course, was on defense. Even though 5.6 yards allowed and 42% on third downs aren’t disastrous numbers….allowing 31 TD passes with just 12 picks isn’t going to get the job done. That’s basically turning all of your opponents into playoff caliber passing offenses, then daring your own quarterback to beat them. Worked until they ran into Tom Brady!

Carolina Panthers
2017 Regular Season Win Estimate: 9 (Over -125)
Odds to win NFC: 12/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 25/1

2016 Record: 6-10 
Yards-per-Play: 5.2 on offense, 5.6 allowed
Third Down Conversions: 37% on offense, 38% allowed

Passing: 7.0 yards-per-pass attempt, 21 TD’s, 19 interceptions thrown
Pass defense: 7.5 yards-per-pass attempt, 27 TD’s allowed, 17 interceptions 

Defensive Impact: 27 takeaways, 47 sacks

Cam Newton wasn’t at 100% health last season, and his hobbled play killed their offense. You can assume he and the scoring unit will improve. The defense needs to be more stalwart at the point of attack. Though, 74 is a very high “defensive impact” count. Only Arizona was better with 28 takeaways and 48 sacks. You can tell the market expects a big bounce back with the team now priced as a favorite to reach 10 wins. 

Tampa Bay
2017 Regular Season Win Estimate: 8 (Over -115)
Odds to win NFC: 12/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 25/1

2016 Record: 6-10 
Yards-per-Play: 5.2 on offense, 5.8 allowed
Third Down Conversions: 44% on offense, 34% allowed

Passing: 7.2 yards-per-pass attempt, 29 TD’s, 18 interceptions thrown
Pass defense: 7.7 yards-per-pass attempt, 24 TD’s allowed, 18 interceptions 

Defensive Impact: 29 takeaways, 38 sacks

This is a very confusing team to analyze because weaknesses were counteracted by strengths. They had the yards-per-play differential of a 6-10 team, but a third down conversion differential of a playoff entry. Allowing 7.7 yards-per-pass is lousy, but it didn’t hurt them because they had a lot of interceptions with an acceptable number of TD’s allowed. Jameis Winston couldn’t make big plays consistently, but did move the chains. His interception count was WAY too high. The market seems to be penciling in improvement for the young signal caller. Make him earn it before you assume it’s going to happen. If it DOES happen, this team could arrive very quickly. 

New Orleans
2017 Regular Season Win Estimate: 8
Odds to win NFC: 12/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 25/1

2016 Record: 7-9 
Yards-per-Play: 6.2 on offense, 6.0 allowed
Third Down Conversions: 49% on offense, 43% allowed

Passing: 7.8 yards-per-pass attempt, 38 TD’s, 15 interceptions thrown
Pass defense: 7.9 yards-per-pass attempt, 27 TD’s allowed, 9 interceptions 

Defensive Impact: 21 takeaways, 30 sacks

Typical Saints. Great offense, lousy defense. If they can avoid miscues from the passing offense, then they look like Atlanta. They can’t do that consistently enough for you to take seriously. But, if they ever do improve the defense…just getting down to league average numbers on that side of the ball would make this a 10-11 win team in a finger snap. Imagine the differentials in yards-per-play, third downs, and passing yardage if generic “adequate” numbers go in for the defense. 

See you tomorrow to finish out the week. If you have any comments or questions about the newsletter or VSiN programming, please drop us a note. Our twitter feed continues to get bigger and better. Click here to follow us…and then keep that window open all day for programming bulletins and more!

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