We’re ready for the NFL! Market notes and a stat preview for Thursday’s Chiefs/Patriots season opener, plus the Westgate SuperContest lines and more on teasers today in VSiN City!
NFL: Patriots favored by 9 points, off their incredible 16-3 ATS performance last season
Throughout the 2016 campaign, way too many bettors (including sharps) kept coming up with reasons NOT to bet on the Patriots. You’re not supposed to lay a lot of points in the NFL. There’s no way they can keep this going. They’re due to be flat this week. They’re either going to let down off something, or look ahead to something else. There’s no way the Pats will keep covering!
Yet, cover they did, even though it was no secret that they were the best team in the league whether you’re talking about oddsmaker Power Ratings, computer ratings, or the eye test of everyone with vision.
New England is the current betting favorite to win the Super Bowl (in the plus 350 to plus 400 range). The Pats begin their trek to repeat Thursday night at home in a game you’ll be watching on NBC. Oddsmakers have to deal with a tricky situation because the price point is right at -9, up from -8 earlier this summer.
- The public may not be very active on the favorite at -9 because lower numbers have been available for so long.
- Sharps preferring Kansas City will be patient to monitor public action just in case plus 9.5 comes into play. If that’s not likely, sharps wanting to fade the Patriots will come in heavily on the Chiefs at plus 9.
- If that happens to a degree that would get sports books thinking about coming down to 8.5, it would invite a flood of two-team teasers from sharps and the public alike, with bettors taking New England -2.5 in pairings with favored teaser options from the rest of the weekend.
- Yes, sharps could be very enthusiastic about New England -2.5 in teasers AND Kansas City plus 9 because so many NFL games land exactly on the three and seven. Computer projections could get plus-EV gradings on both of those approaches even though they involve competing teams in the same game.
Be sure you monitor VSiN programming throughout the day Thursday for insights from the South Point oddsmakers, and ticket count/money updates from behind the counter.
Now…onto our stat preview…
We’re going to focus on the key areas that helped separate these teams from the pack last season. Everyone remembers that New England won the Super Bowl. It’s easy to forget that Kansas City went 12-4, before losing a home playoff game to Pittsburgh 18-16 where they didn’t allow a touchdown. How did New England and KC go 26-6 in 2016?
Kansas City (12-4) at New England (14-2)
- Las Vegas Line: New England by 9, total of 48.5
- Estimated Market Power Ratings: New England 88, Kansas City 82
Key Passing Stats
- Kansas City: 7.2 yards-per-pass attempt, 19 TD’s, 8 interceptions thrown
- New England: 8.1 yards-per-pass attempt, 32 TD’s, 2 interceptions thrown
In a passing era, both teams did a good job of moving the ball efficiently without giving it away. Tom Brady had another historic season, with a stunning 32-2 TD/INT ratio. Alex Smith didn’t have the same kind of volume. But he only threw 8 interceptions, which was one of the lowest marks in the NFL. Here’s a quick look at NFL offenses from last season that topped 7.0 yards per attempt while throwing less than 10 interceptions (ranked in order of yards-per-pass-attempt).
- Atlanta: 9.2 yppa, 7 interceptions
- New England: 8.1 yppa, 2 interceptions
- Dallas: 7.9 yppa, 6 interceptions
- Cincinnati: 7.5 yppa, 8 interceptions
- Kansas City: 7.2 yppa, 7 interceptions
- Green Bay: 7.2 yppa, 8 interceptions
- Minnesota: 7.0 yppa, 5 interceptions
Only seven qualifiers. The two at the top played in the Super Bowl. Dallas went 13-3. Cincinnati and Minnesota show that the playoffs aren’t a sure thing if you can accomplish this tandem. But efficiency matters, and gives you a chance to be amongst the cream of the crop.
- Kansas City: 43% third down pct-allowed, 33 takeaways, 28 sacks
- New England: 37% third down pct-allowed, 23 takeaways, 34 sacks
You probably don’t have a sense of takeaway counts unless you’re a very avid follower of the league. Kansas City’s 33 takeaways led the NFL in 2016. The only other team to reach 30 was Oakland. What Alex Smith lacked in terms of superstar passing volume, the defense made up for with high impact plays.
New England’s defense was better than they were given credit for much of the season. When the Patriots win, their head coach and quarterback get the bulk of the credit. Hey, that 32-2 ratio deserves it! But the Patriots were solid at third down denial even though they played a lot of games where the defense could run clock just by giving up short plays to protect big leads. They also only allowed 5.2 yards-per-play despite all the garbage time, which was fourth best in the AFC.
What does all of that mean for Thursday night? The cover will probably come down to whether or not Kansas City can force any turnovers from Brady and company. New England is the clear favorite straight up given its talent edge and superior quarterback. New England must play clean to cover. Kansas City can definitely hang within the number if the Pats aren’t up to regular season speed just yet.
Westgate SuperContest: Week One lines are up!
VSiN is the media home for the world-famous Westgate SuperContest. Sports book manager Jay Kornegay was alongside our own Brent Musburger to announce the official lines for Week 1 Wednesday on “My Guys in the Desert.” VSiN looks forward to being a part of the formal line announcement every Wednesday this season.
Here are the point spreads contestants will be firing at. Each must pick exactly FIVE selections against those numbers. Those who want to include New England/Kansas City in their mix must turn in ALL FIVE selections in advance of that Thursday night kickoff.
Games are presented in Nevada Rotation order…
New England -9 vs. Kansas City (Thursday)
Buffalo -8.5 vs. the NY Jets
Atlanta -6.5 at Chicago
Houston -5 vs. Jacksonville
Philadelphia -1 at Washington
Arizona -2 at Detroit
Tennessee -2 vs. Oakland
Cincinnati -2.5 vs. Baltimore
Pittsburgh -8.5 at Cleveland
LA Rams -4 vs. Indianapolis
Green Bay -3 vs. Seattle
Carolina -5.5 at San Francisco
Dallas -4 vs. NY Giants
Minnesota -3 vs. New Orleans (Monday Night)
Denver -3 vs. LA Chargers (Monday Night)
Jay Kornegay told Brent Wednesday afternoon that the Westgate consciously shaded some lines against anticipated sharp action. That could help level the playing field for non-professionals. And it will set up some interesting challenges for sharps. Normally, a pro wagerer would be happy to lay -6.5 in a big money contest if a game was widely available at -7 across the state. But if they were looking to aggressively bet Chicago at plus 7 this weekend, would they still consider Atlanta -6.5 in the contest because of the percentage power of that key number of seven?
- Cincinnati is -2.5 in the contest, but -3 in many spots.
- Minnesota is -3 in the contest, but -3.5 in most spots
- Denver is -3 in the contest, but -3.5 in most spots
Pittsburgh (-8.5 in the contest, -9 in stores) is in a similar situation, but not within a half point of a key number. Let’s pay very close attention to the consensus plays when the Westgate announces those this Saturday live on VSiN programming. (And Week 1 contest results will be unveiled exclusively on VSiN on Tuesday!)
Sports Betting: A follow-up on teasers
We talked at length about two-team six-point teasers in yesterday’s newsletter. If you missed that, please click here. Our focus was on how sharps bet two-teamers in the NFL, which didn’t leave much room to explain why they DIDN’T bet teasers on totals, in college football, or in basketball.
Let’s quickly touch on that today.
First, think about how valuable points are in any given sport…and then how valuable SIX points are. A typical NFL game will have an Over/Under mid 40’s. Let’s use 45 as an example. Six points is a lucky 13% of 45. With teasers, you’re taking about 13% of the projected points that will be scored in a game and putting them in your pocket.
College football games are higher scoring than in the NFL, particularly now that so many teams are playing fast break football. If you see an Over/Under of 60 in a college game, a six-point move is only 10% of the points. Each individual point has less inherent value in college football, yet teaser options are the same.
College basketball? Now we’re talking about scoring totals in the 130’s or more. The NBA? More than 200 points is now normal…with elite teams racing past that. Points are ultra-cheap in the modern NBA.
Doesn’t it make sense that that the NFL is where you should devote your teaser focus? That’s where taking those six points has the greatest impact.
Now, Over/Unders. The key here is that the variance on scoring totals is so wide that it erases the value of playing teasers. There aren’t any key numbers as strong as the 3 and the 7 for results to cluster around. So, moving a line from 45 down to 39, or up to 51 isn’t as powerful as moving a team at -8.5 down to -2.5, or a dog from plus 1.5 up to plus 7.5.
When you hear the South Point oddsmakers advising VSiN viewers “don’t tease totals,” this is why. There isn’t enough value to make that work for Over/Unders in the NFL, and even thinking about it in college football or basketball is pretty ridiculous. Sure, sometimes you’ll visualize a scenario that turns out to be correct. But the best percentage way to invest in your opinions is to focus on the regular posted lines rather than trying to get cute with teasers.
Because this is a popular betting choice in Las Vegas, we’ll touch on the topic throughout the coming season…and isolate interesting teaser scenarios when they pop up.
College Football: Market developments in Saturday night’s Fantastic Four
We promised to keep you abreast of line moves in the four marquee college football games that are scheduled for simultaneous broadcast this coming Saturday evening…
Auburn at Clemson on ESPN
More interest on the dog than the favorite, as Auburn is down to plus 4.5 at some offshore spots, with Vegas likely to follow quickly on their heels. Clemson was -6 earlier this week, and -5.5 when we posted numbers here in the newsletter back in our Tuesday morning report. Since the public tends to bet favorites, this is a strong sign that sharps like the dog at plus 5 or more.
Georgia at Notre Dame on NBC
Big move here on the dog. Notre Dame was -6.5 when we checked for you on the Monday overnights. Wednesday night, offshore spots were showing -4 and -4.5. You’ll recall that Georgia had been getting a lot of initial respect over the summer in the Game of the Year betting. What now appears to be an early week overreaction to Notre Dame’s blowout of Temple is being pulled back. Interesting that dog money isn’t even waiting to see if the public was going to back these first two favorites this weekend.
Oklahoma at Ohio State on ABC
Looking like two-way action, with sharps firing at Oklahoma plus 7.5 (the number from earlier this week), but Ohio State interest hitting the seven at stores which test the waters that low. Likely to be the heaviest bet college game of the weekend.
Stanford at USC on FOX
Another drop through the week. The host Trojans were -7 late Monday night. We’re now seeing -6 or -6.5 offshore and through Nevada. Might be a game where USC money hits the six, but sharps still like Stanford at plus 6.5 after pulling the line below the key number of seven.
Fans and bettors could be in store for some VERY exciting college football Saturday night if all of this sharp dog money is on the mark.
US Open Tennis: For the first time since 1981, and all-American Women’s Semifinals
This historic run by the USA women may increase betting interest in the US Open this weekend. Here are the overnight exchange odds to win the trophy from Betfair.
Madison Keys plus 180
Venus Williams plus 270
Coco Vandeweghe plus 350
Sloane Stephens plus 540
Early lines in those matches according to bookmaker.eu
Williams is -165 over Stephens (plus 140)
Keys is -145 over Vandeweghe (plus 125)
Enjoy the NFL kickoff! Back with you Friday to run the key stats from Chiefs/Patriots and dig deeper into those four marquee matchups in the colleges. Don’t forget that our new Point Spread Weekly digital publication is a great resource for handicappers. Click here to see a free preview copy.
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