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It's never too early to look at NFL futures

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

derek_carr_
Derek Carr and the Raiders are 15-1 to win the 2018 Super Bowl.
© USA Today Sports Images

As you certainly know by now, IT’S OFFICIAL! The Oakland Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas some time in the not-too-distant future. They’ll definitely play in Oakland this coming season to finish out their existing lease. And, the franchise does have an option for 2018 in Oakland as well. Current expectations are for a spanking brand new NFL stadium to be completed in Las Vegas to house the Raiders by 2020.

You can’t bet on the “Las Vegas Raiders” yet, but you can bet who wins the 2018 Super Bowl
It will be awhile before handicappers and sports bettors will be risking their money on “Las Vegas Raiders” games. But right now you can already bet on who will win the next Super Bowl. Let’s check in on the latest NFL futures odds from the South Point. 

Odds to win the 2018 Super Bowl
3 to 1: New England (25% to win)
6 to 1: Dallas (14% to win)
8 to 1: Pittsburgh (11% to win)
10 to 1: Green Bay, Seattle (9% apiece to win)
12 to 1: Atlanta, Denver (8% apiece to win)
15 to 1: Oakland (eventually Las Vegas!) (6% to win)
18 to 1: Kansas City, Minnesota, NY Giants (5% to win)
25 to 1: Carolina, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami (4% apiece to win)

Let’s stop right there. A dozen teams make the NFL playoffs. That’s 15 teams already (the best 12 and ties in the odds). If you’re good at math, you’ve noticed that we’ve already topped the 100% mark in win expectation. Sports books bake in a form of vigorish on futures prices to represent the house edge. So, the percentage possibilities will typically add up to more than 100%. Half the league to go but a half that’s currently seen as longshots to win the Super Bowl.

30 to 1: Arizona, Baltimore, Philadelphia (3% apiece to win)
40 to 1: Tampa Bay, Tennessee (2% or less to win these three rows)
50 to 1: Cincinnati, Detroit, Washington
60 to 1: LA Chargers, New Orleans
75 to 1: Buffalo, Jacksonville (1% apiece or less to win from this point down)
100 to 1: LA Rams, NY Jets
125 to 1: Chicago
225 to 1: San Francisco
300 to 1: Cleveland

As you’ve heard discussed by VSiN and South Point oddsmakers on our broadcasts, “smarts” will take positions on teams that at least have potential to get into the playoffs and make a possible run at the title.

For example: a bet on New Orleans doesn’t necessarily mean that the bettor is confident the Saints will go the distance and lift the Lombardi trophy. But 60 to 1 is a big payoff. If the Saints are close to making the playoffs late in the season, investors holding a plus 6000 ticket can hedge against them to seal a profit. They do so by betting on the Saints’ opponent to win slightly more than one unit. If New Orleans wins and does make the playoffs, investors can keep hedging part of that big payoff, or otherwise position themselves with point-spread bets to maximize their win potential.

So don’t just look at that listing and rule out the bottom half for investment. Check to see if your projections for the coming season isolate a team or two that can be used for smart positioning.

NBA odds to win the title
We haven’t had a chance to run odds to win the NBA Championship yet in VSiN City. As we transition from college-heavy to NBA-heavy for the pending playoffs, let’s take care of that right now. Here are the numbers up on the board at the South Point for all the teams who are already locked into the brackets or who have legitimate shots to reach the postseason.

NBA Championship Odds
Minus 145: Golden State (59% to win)
11 to 5: Cleveland (31% to win)
4 to 1: San Antonio (20% to win)

Yes, the first three teams are already at 110% to win! NBA followers have wanted to bet Golden State or Cleveland since last year’s Championship finals. They have to pay a premium to do so. San Antonio is the most logical “other” option and is getting market respect. Elsewhere…

15 to 1: Houston (6% to win) (opened at 50 to 1 last June)
20 to 1: Boston (5% to win)
22 to 1: LA Clippers (4% to win)
30 to 1: Toronto (3% to win)
40 to 1: Washington (2% to win, all others 1% or lower)
75 to 1: Utah
100 to 1: Oklahoma City, Memphis (OKC was at 7 to 1 before loss of Durant)
200 to 1: Miami, New Orleans
250 to 1: Atlanta, Chicago, Indiana
300 to 1: Milwaukee
400 to 1: Charlotte, Detroit
750 to 1: Portland, Denver
1000 to 1: Dallas

If Cleveland’s defensive collapse of recent weeks is a harbinger of trouble ahead, position-taking with Boston or Washington might be in order. True for Toronto too if the Raptors are going to regain full health in time to have an impact.

Speaking of Cleveland's possible collapse…

Cleveland crushed 103-74 by San Antonio (-5), falls out of first in the East
Observers still can’t know for sure whether the Cavaliers are in trouble, or just waiting to flick a switch for playoff mode in a few weeks. They didn’t flick any switches Monday in a 29-point road loss to the Spurs.

Key Stats:
Two-Point Pct: Cleveland 47%, San Antonio 57%
Rebounds: Cleveland 40, San Antonio 52
Turnovers: Cleveland 19, San Antonio 12

It’s been well-publicized that Cleveland is having defensive problems of late. What isn’t as widely known is that the scoreboard is actually understating the issue. Cleveland has slowed down its pace in recent days. If they allow a big number, it’s not from a fast-break game involving mostly scrubs. It’s a slow game where the defense isn’t stopping anyone!

Recent examples according to Basketball-Reference:
When Cleveland allowed 126 points to Denver, they did so on only 94 possessions
When Cleveland allowed 127 points to Washington, they did so on only 93 possessions

The typical NBA game, and the typical Cavaliers game this season has about 96 possessions according to Basketball-Reference. Slowing down isn’t supposed to make your defense worse. Monday’s game with San Antonio was also below Cleveland’s average pace. The Spurs were very polite to coast to 103 points after a 64-point first half. The first half was a replay of the Denver and Washington debacles. The second half was a professional courtesy from a host that has Golden State on deck (Wednesday night in the Alamo City).

The loss drops Cleveland out of first place in the East. The Cavs are now 47-26, a half-game behind Boston’s 48-26.

Are Pistons tanking to MISS the playoffs?

That may sound like a harsh question to ask of a professional team. But Monday night’s 109-95 loss to the New York Knicks (as a favorite) continues a pretty glaring recent trend. 

Going back the last seven games…
Detroit (-1) lost to New York 109-95 (missed the market by 15 points)
Detroit (-2.5) lost to Orlando 115-87 (missed the market by 30.5 points)
Detroit (-2) lost to Chicago 117-95 (missed the market by 24 points)
Detroit (-5.5) lost to Brooklyn 98-96 (missed the market by 7.5 points)
Detroit (-12.5) beat Phoenix 112-95 (covered by 4.5 vs. tanking opponent)
Detroit (-3.5) lost to Toronto 87-75 (missed the market by 15.5 points)
Detroit (plus 2.5) lost to Utah 97-83 (missed the market by 11.5 points)
Detroit (plus 7.5) lost to Cleveland 128-96 (missed the market by 24.5 points)

That’s 1-7 straight up and ATS for a team that had a shot to make the playoffs. The only win was over a Phoenix Suns group that isn’t emphasizing victories of late. Six of the seven non-covers missed the market by double digits. Five of the seven non-covers missed the market by 15 points or more. 

Detroit was 32-34 straight up when that stretch began. Right now, one game over .500 is the #5 seed in the Eastern brackets! Odd time to become double digits worse than New York and Orlando. Will be interesting to see how Tuesday night’s home game against Miami plays out. The Heat have been on fire for weeks. Detroit’s currently playing under a big question mark. The overnight line at the South Point was Miami -2.5. 

Elsewhere in the NBA, Toronto tuning up…Westbrook rallies Thunder

Four other games to quickly review from Monday night…

Toronto (-8.5) beat Orlando 131-112. Toronto is 5-1 ATS its last six as jockeying in the upper half of the Eastern brackets continues. The Raptors are currently slotted as the #4 seed, but only trail #1 seed Boston by four games with eight to go. Orlando falls to 2-7 ATS its last nine games.

Oklahoma City (-1) won at Dallas 92-91: Great comeback by OKC, who was in a tough back-to-back spot after losing at Houston Sunday. The Thunder were down by 15 at the half, 12 entering the fourth quarter, and 13 with just a few minutes left! OKC scored the last 14 points of the game to steal a 1-point victory. Russell Westbrook scored 12 of those 14 points including the game winner, on his way to another triple double. 

Utah (-6.5) beat New Orleans 108-100. DeMarcus Cousins missed the game for the Pelicans with an ankle injury. Gordon Hayward was out for Utah. The Jazz ended a four-game non-cover skid with the eight-point victory.

Sacramento (plus 1) won beat Memphis 91-90: The Grizzlies have lost all four games on this current road trip, with three of the four being non-covers. Lowly Sacramento just beat the LA Clippers and the Griz by one point each on back-to-back days!

Games to watch Tuesday

  • Golden State at Houston as a potential playoff preview (Houston -1.5 on the overnight)
  • Denver at Portland in the battle for the #8 seed in the West (Portland -2)
  • Miami at Detroit just to see what happens (Miami -2.5)

Highlights ahead

  • Wednesday: Golden State at San Antonio (though the Warriors may rest stars on night two of a back-to-back), and Washington at the LA Clippers.
  • Thursday: Houston at Portland, and maybe Cleveland at Chicago if the Bulls keep playing well while the Cavaliers continue to raise questions.
  • Friday: San Antonio at Oklahoma City, and Houston at Golden State in a quick rematch. 

NIT Final Four tips off Tuesday in New York
Before we get to the Final Four of the Big Dance, there’s the Final Four of the historic NIT to enjoy. Here are Tuesday night’s matchups at Madison Square Garden…

  • 7 p.m. ET: Georgia Tech (-1.5) vs. Cal Bakersfield (total of 122.5)
  • 9:30 p.m. ET: TCU (-2.5) vs. Central Florida (total of 132.5)

We know many of you haven’t been following this tournament. And given all the surprises in the earlier rounds of this event, you don’t know much about the four survivors. Let’s remedy that so you can watch (and handicap) tonight’s card from a more informed position.

How good are these teams? A quick and handy exercise is to see who surrounds them in the current kenpom ratings (an analytics assessment compiled by Ken Pomeroy). You may not know these teams, but you may recognize some of the teams they’re roughly as good as.

TCU is the best NIT team left in the kenpom ratings at #38. The two teams just ahead of them are Minnesota and Northwestern. The two teams just below are Dayton and Michigan State. All four of those teams received invitations to the Big Dance. TCU is a “Dance caliber” team based on those neighbors. Maybe they should have been in the Big Ten instead of the Big 12! You probably remember that TCU caught Kansas by surprise in Kansas City in the Big 12 tournament. TCU is the obvious market favorite to win the NIT.

Central Florida is well down the kenpom rankings at #64. The two teams ahead of them are California and Vermont. The two teams just below are Texas A&M and East Tennessee State. That’s two respected but ultimately disappointing auto-bids in the form of Vermont and ETSU. Cal and A&M weren’t good enough to get at-larges. So, Central Florida is in the right tournament.

Georgia Tech is #77 with kenpom. The two teams just above them are UT Arlington and Bucknell. The two teams just below are San Diego State and BYU. If you’re a Nevada local familiar with SDSU of the Mountain West, or BYU of the West Coast Conference, you have a sense of Georgia Tech’s quality. Some in the media were lobbying for Georgia Tech as a Dance “bubble” team late in the season. Most computer assessments were much more pessimistic.

Cal Bakersfield has been on fire (as we discussed last week), and has surged up to #84. The two teams just above them are Monmouth and Belmont. The two teams just below are New Mexico State and Davidson. Small team that had to play fantastic ball on the road just to rise up to where NIT cohorts Monmouth and Belmont were in the rankings.

So…TCU’s a Dance team arguably in the wrong tournament (based purely on “team quality” rather than wins and losses on the resume). The other three teams are down where margin of error can be large because of inconsistency.

What about the key “descriptive” areas we’ve been discussing through the Dance?

Two-Point emphasis on offense: Georgia Tech 76%, Cal Bakersfield 68%, TCU 65%, Central Florida 61%.

Georgia Tech is more inside oriented that North Carolina and Kentucky! Central Florida launches a bunch of treys, hoping their 7’6” center can snare some rebounds. The other two are sandwiched between those extremes.

Two-Point prevention on defense: Cal Bakersfield 40% (#1 in the nation, ahead of Gonzaga!), Central Florida 41% (#3 in the nation), Georgia Tech 44% (#13 in the nation), TCU 49% (#159 in the nation).

Wow…the importance of defense in tournament basketball really looms large there. TCU has so much talent that they can afford to slack off a bit. The other three teams are still playing because they protect the rim with vigor.

Not much interesting to report in the area of pace. Georgia Tech, Cal Bakersfield, and TCU are within arm’s reach of the national average in terms of possession counts. Central Florida is slow…partly because they have to incorporate a 7’6” center into the mix…and partly because teams that emphasize treys tend to spend a lot of time trying to get open looks (like Michigan and Wisconsin, for example).

Enjoy tonight’s NIT twin-bill. We’ll review the key semifinal stats for you tomorrow.

As mentioned, we'll be cranking up NBA coverage as college hoops winds down. If there are key market influences you'd like us to focus on, please drop us an email.

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