We hope everyone is enjoying the new VSiN broadcast schedule, which we here at the Tuley’s Takes home offce believe is a great way to keep up with news affecting the odds and point spreads, and complementing the handicapping here in Point Spread Weekly as well as recapping all the action.
Personally, I’ve found myself bouncing all over the place on a daily basis in trying to continue handicapping baseball (especially my addiction to 1st Inning Yes/No wagers) while also getting ready for NFL Preseason Week 1 and also keeping an eye toward the “real” Week 1 lines and the futures markets as well, so this column will have some back-and-forth to it as well as we look at this week’s betting menu.
First of all, let’s start with the NFL as it’s still king when it comes to sports betting. I didn’t make an offcial pick on the Hall of Fame Game last Thursday (nor did I bet the Broncos -2.5), but I’m hoping anyone who did decide to bet it took my note about Falcons coach Dan Quinn’s poor preseason record as a sign to either take the Broncos or pass. Granted, it was a coin-fip result down to the fnal seconds of the Broncos’ 14-10 victory and could have gone either way, but it was a winning start to the football season for those tracking coaches’ preseason tendencies.
We’ll have a look at those situations in NFL Preseason Week 1 in a few paragraphs, but I also want to recap my 1st Inning Crack plays in last week’s PSW. I certainly hope more readers were following along last Wednesday when we went 4-0 with our four recommended “1st Inning No” plays: Dodgers-Rockies around 170, DiamondbacksYankees around 105, Giants-Phillies around 120 and Twins-Marlins around -115. If you played those four in straight bets, you profted nearly 5 units; the four-team parlay paid around 18/1; and a $100 round-robin by 3’s (meaning four separate three-team parlays using those combinations) cost $400 and paid more than $4,200 (guess how I played it?). The rest of the weekend wasn’t as proftable as my suggested plays went 4-8 though I hit another four-teamer on my birthday last Friday with alternate plays after seeing the daily Yes/No lines, but Monday was another good day as I went 3-1with four more “1st Inning No” plays: RoyalsRed Sox, Yankees-Orioles, Nationals-Giants and Phillies-Diamondbacks (the lone loser).
As I wrote last week: “With the offensive explosion this season and most teams having over-.500 records with the 1st Inning Yes, it’s been getting increasingly harder to fnd value on those bets with books jacking up the vig.” So that’s why the vast majority of my plays lately have been on the 1st Inning No. Those four series wrap up Wednesday, so I’m planning to play those again in round-robin parlays (and straight when I have a 20-cent edge on the true-odds vig). What does that mean? Let’s take Monday’s Royals-Red Sox game for example. Coming into the game, the Royals were hitting at a 58-percent clip with the 1st Inning Yes with the Red Sox at 52.2 percent. Combined, they were around 55 percent, so the true-odds vig should have been around Yes -125. However, the books had the Yes juiced at -185 with the No at 165 (when the true-odds vig should have been around 125, or a 40-cent edge in my book).
Looking ahead, several weekend series start Thursday and again I’m expecting there to be more value on the “No” and I’m eyeing these four matchups: Yankees-Blue Jays (certain to be juiced high), Braves-Marlins, Padres-Rockies (1st Inning Yes always jacked up at mile-high altitude), BravesMarlins and Phillies-Giants. There is one matchup of Yes teams – Cubs at Reds – that I hope isn’t juiced too high (-150 would be my limit).
Let’s get back to the NFL, but before going over the Preseason Week 1 card, I want to address a question I’ve been getting asked a lot lately. It usually goes something like this:
“With your success with NHL 1st Period Over/ Unders and now with MLB 1st Inning Yes/No bets, are you planning to handicap NFL (or NCAA) 1st Quarter wagers?”
The short answer is “No.” If you care for an explanation, it’s comes down to the fact that I don’t consider the opening quarter of a football game as having what I call a natural conclusion. For instance, after the 1st period of a hockey game, the teams skate off to the locker room. In baseball, the home team is trying to score and the road team is trying to keep them from scoring before getting three outs and then switching for the second inning. Even at halftime of football games, you have the teams trying to score or prevent the other team from scoring before heading to the locker room.
Now compare those to the end of the frst quarter of a football game. There’s no urgency to score because the only thing that changes at the end of the quarter is the teams switch sides of the feld. There’s no real advantage to scoring on the last play of the frst quarter vs. the frst play of the second quarter. In fact, you’ll often see teams run off the last 39 seconds or less of the frst quarter so the QB can meet with his coaches on the sideline for an uncharged timeout. Believe me, it’s frustrating to have a 1st Quarter bet on a team (let’s say they’re trailing 7-3) or a 1st Quarter Over 10.5 points wager and your team decides to wait until the 2nd Quarter to run another play. There’s enough uncertainty and randomness in sports betting that I try to avoid situations where I’m even more at the mercy of decisions of coaches/players that aren’t in line with what I’m cheering/betting for (since we’re being a little esoteric here, you can see how this is part of my “dog or pass” philosophy as I don’t like betting a favorite to cover a spread when the coaches/players’ primary goal is just winning the game and not by a certain margin).
Takes for NFL Preseason Week 1
As we wrote here last week (and also referred everyone to my VSiN colleague Matt Youman’s article and then I’m guessing most of you have at least heard the clips from handicapper Chuck Edel’s appearance on “Follow the Money” with Mitch & Pauly), the key to success in betting the NFL preseason is in looking at the head coaches’ records that tell the priority they put on winning these otherwise meaningless games, plus their game plans that they often discuss openly in interviews and at press conferences as well as QB rotations.
Now, I’m going to back off of that a bit and point out the fact that the oddsmakers know all of this, too, so the next level of handicapping/betting the preseason is to decide when to follows those strategies and when the oddsmakers are charging too high of a premium and you’re better off passing on a game (or even bucking the trend if they’re offering too much value on the other side).
Everyone seems to know by now that Baltimore’s John Harbaugh is the best long-term preseason coach at 30-15 ATS and 18-3 ATS since 2014, so books opened the Ravens between -3 (Westgate) and -4.5 (South Point and William Hill) over the Jaguars in their preseason opener Thursday. So, guess what? Bettors still laid the infated line and it was up to -5 at Westgate & Caesars Palace as of late Tuesday afternoon. I had a great preseason last year thanks to Harbaugh, but I’m planning to fade this move – would really love if it continues to steam to Jaguars 6 – as no preseason line should be this high.
In other Thursday games, it’s rare to see a road team favored in the preseason, but the Colts have been bet from pick ‘em to 2.5-point road favorites at the Bills (Why? Probably because everyone is talking about how Indy head coach Frank Reich was 3-1 SU & 4-0 ATS last year). Gimme the Bills if they get to 3. Note: a lot of people will tell you “the key number of 3 doesn’t mean as much in the preseason because coaches try to avoid overtime and a lot more games end on 1 or 2;” however, if games are landing on 1 or 2, that still makes 3 valuable. Just sayin’.
Another Thursday game impacted by a head coach’s preseason record is the aforementioned Quinn as the Falcons are 3.5-point road underdogs at the Dolphins. Normally, a team with a game under its belt is usually shaded a few extra points against a team making its preseason debut (see Denver only 1 at Seattle), but with everyone fading Quinn, the lowly Dolphins (though they have a starting QB battle with Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Josh Rosen) are favored by more than a feld goal. It’s still not enough to get me to back the Falcons, so I’ll pass.
Speaking of Seattle, Pete Carroll (35-17-1 ATS) is another coach that puts a priority on winning in the preseason and the Seahawks are between 1- and 2-point home favorites over the Broncos. That’s tempting to lay such a short price, however, I’m probably going to pass as the Broncos have a game under their belt, so that kinda negates any edge for Carroll.
Moving to Friday, I do like the fact the Vikings are now 3-point road dogs at New Orleans. A lot of people are high on the Saints this year (and bettors probably liking that Teddy Bridgewater is getting to play against his former team), but Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer is 14-7 ATS, so I’ll gladly take the Vikes 3.
On Saturday, the Chiefs opened as high as 5-point home favorites over the Bengals and Cincinnati has been getting more action than the very popular Chiefs. That’s probably due to all the chatter about Andy Reid being 4-13-3 ATS in NFL Preseason Week 1 as a head coach and 1-4-1 ATS since moving to KC. I would still recommend taking the Bengals 3.5. Also Saturday, the Cowboys are 3-point road dogs at San Francisco partly due to Dallas coach Jason Garrett’s preseason record being 10-20-3 ATS. I’ll pass on fading him as I’m not going to lay -3 with the 49ers.
To sum up, Tuley’s Takes for NFL Preseason Week 1: Jaguars 5 or higher at Ravens, Bills 2.5 or higher (hoping for 3) vs. Colts, Vikings 3 or higher at Saints, Bengals 3.5 or higher at Chiefs.
Personally, I usually start off the preseason betting about four games a week and keep betting if it’s going well (like last year). If I start cold, I’ll back off and just watch to research for the upcoming regular season, so we’ll see how it goes.
Good luck with however you choose to play these games. The preseason is beatable, but let the bettor beware that if you just go along with all the other bandwagon jumpers, you might get “steam”rolled.