About this time every year as we prepare for the NFL season at the Tuley’s Takes home office, we try to take a closer look at the Over/Under season win totals for all 32 teams.
When we were younger (and I say “we” because I know all of you did this too), our favorite team’s schedule would come out and we’d go through it, saying, “That’s a win, that’s a win, that’s a loss, that’s a coin flip, here’s another coin flip, they’ll split those games, that’s a win, that’s a loss ...” and so on.
The more sophisticated way is when we get the advance lines from the oddsmakers and can really see who is favored to win each game, helping us form a more objective opinion. But then we take it a step further by taking the equivalent win percentage from each game (because there’s no 100% or 0% chance of winning) based on the point spreads and add those to get a truer projection for each team. For instance, a pick-’em game on the moneyline is 50/50, or .500. A 3-point favorite has a 59.4% chance of winning outright, so the favorite gets .594 while the underdog receives .406. A 7-point favorite has a 75.2% change of winning outright, so the fave gets .752 while the dog receives .248. We add those up and get the Money Line Estimate (MLE).
The oddsmakers who set the season win totals have probably done something similar — though they also have to factor in how bettors will bet teams, especially the “public” teams — so a lot of our numbers will be similar. But we still think this is a worthwhile exercise as we can see which totals might be overadjusted or find bets on which we truly believe the worst-case scenario is a push based on the numbers.
In addition, to break some close calls, we like to use the old “that’s a win, that’s a loss” approach, but instead using the oddsmakers’ opinions. We call that the Win-Loss-Tie (W-L-T).