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Why sharps like the Jaguars this season

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

Solving the Jacksonville Jaguars’ “Regular Season Win” mystery as the NFLX dress rehearsals begin, plus Mayweather money and MLB mayhem Thursday in VSiN City. 

NFL: Solving the Jaguars mystery…why were sharps betting OVER Jacksonville’s “Regular Season Win” total?
The Jacksonville Jaguars help kick off “dress rehearsal weekend” Thursday night when they host the Carolina Panthers. The Jags have been a big story in Vegas this summer, as professional wagerers have been betting them to go Over 6.5 victories despite horrible play from (now benched) starting quarterback Blake Bortles and resulting reports of disharmony.

Sharps have had a recent history of backing Jacksonville in the summer. Last year’s investments were triggered by optimism about Bortles. He was on the cover of multiple Fantasy Football publications in the summer of 2016 after posting a 35 TD/18 INT ratio the prior season as a 23-year old. Analytics models and scouts were optimistic that he’d post even better numbers last season.

He didn’t (23 TD/16 INT ratio), and the Jags slumped to 3-13. 

Now, he’s complaining of a tired arm…and he’s playing like a guy who has a tired arm!

Why would sharps go back to this well again in 2017? 

It’s not because they’re stubborn, or blind, or don’t value their money. Sharps are professional winners, and they get their name from “sharpening” lines within a largely efficient market. If you take your focus off the Jaguars and Bortles for a second…and look at their OPPONENTS…you’ll see that these bets are based on Jacksonville’s soft 2017 schedule. 

Many headlines you’ve been reading about quarterback troubles across the league involve teams Jacksonville is scheduled to face this season. 

  • Houston doesn’t have a proven starting quarterback. Tom Savage has won the starting position, but is far from a sure thing to succeed given his pro and college career production to this point. Houston is Jacksonville’s first opponent. The current Week One line is only Houston -4 on its home turf, which is just one point more than home field advantage. Jacksonville opens the season just “one point worse” than Houston on a neutral field in the composite opinion of an efficient market. They will face Houston twice this season.
  • Indianapolis is still sweating out the status of its quarterback Andrew Luck. He may not be ready to go when the regular season begins. Nobody knows when he’ll be ready to go! The Colts will be power-rated as part of the bottom quarter of the league if he’s unavailable. Jacksonville will also face Indy twice this season.
  • Baltimore QB Joe Flacco injured his back over the summer. He may not be ready to compete at 100% effectiveness early in the season. Jacksonville draws Baltimore in Week 3 in a neutral field game in London. 
  • The NY Jets have significant quarterback troubles. Their best-case scenario is that journeyman Josh McCown is the starter and the team is just “bad.” They’d be “horrible” with either Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty based on early returns. Jacksonville faces the Jets in Week 4. 
  • The Los Angeles Rams were bad last year, and aren’t a sure thing to improve this season (though Jared Goff showed promise for the first time as a pro last week in an exhibition over the Raiders). Jacksonville hosts the Rams in Week 6.
  • Cleveland just named Deshone Kizer as its starting quarterback for the dress rehearsal. It’s far from likely that he’s going to be a positive influence in the regular season with so little experience. The Browns are on Jacksonville’s schedule as well.
  • There’s more! San Francisco is still projected to be a doormat without a quality starting quarterback. Jacksonville faces the Niners late in the regular season. 

Even though Jacksonville was 3-13 last year, and is not expected to be “playoff caliber” this season. They’re only likely to be truly outmatched in games vs. Pittsburgh and Seattle. If you read our Power Ratings earlier this week…those are the only two teams on the Jax schedule registering in the Super Bowl contending class. It’s not much of an oversimplification to say that Jacksonville has two very likely losses, and about 14 coin flips. (If you’re optimistic about Arizona this season…the Jags visit the Cards…so call it three very likely losses and about 13 coin flips). 

If they split those 13-14 coin flips, that’s 6.5 to 7 wins…which is right at the Regular Season Wins market price. 

Sharps weren’t betting Jacksonville because they think this is a dark horse playoff contender. In truth, they weren’t even “betting Jacksonville” in terms of strategy. They were betting against that very soft “last place” schedule (games vs. the Jets, Browns, and Chargers) from a shaky division (four games vs. rivals with QB issues) that also happened to include two bad teams in the interconference rotation (LA Rams and SF). 

South Point Sports Book Director Chris Andrews explained his process for creating these props back when they went on the board. He starts with Power Ratings…then projects a point spread for each game…then turns that point spread into a money line equivalent…and then a win-percentage equivalent…then adds up the win percentages. 

The Jags will likely have a lot of games in that 46-52% win scenario. Add up all the “half-wins” and you reach about 6.5 victories. 

Sharps don’t “love Jacksonville”. They’re fading the schedule. Hopefully you’re focused on opposing schedules as well when you consider these props in both college and football. Don’t just try to figure “sure wins” and “sure losses.” Be sure to estimate all the “half-wins” in toss-ups. That’s particularly important in the NFL. 

Overnight lines in Thursday’s NFLX action…
Miami at Philadelphia (-3.5/42), 7 p.m. ET on the NFL Network
Carolina (-1.5/43) at Jacksonville, 7:30 p.m. ET 

From media in those cities…
Jay Cutler’s Thursday stint may depend on game form
Carson Wentz and first team offense should play into second half
Cam Newton to start, won’t play full session with other starters
Chad Henne to start, but Bortles will get some first team snaps

Friday…
New England (-2.5/44) at Detroit 7 p.m. ET
Kansas City at Seattle (-3.5/43), 8 p.m. ET on CBS

We’ll talk more about Saturday’s matchups tomorrow. 

Boxing: Rubber bands come off Mayweather money as sharp action hits the market
Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point appeared on CNBC during the day to report on increased sharp money hitting the market on Floyd Mayweather in Saturday night’s bout against Colin McGregor. (Click here to see the full segment).

Then, Wednesday night, Chris Andrews reported on twitter an additional $100,000 bet to win $20,000 on Mayweather.

It’s starting to look like -500 was the “go” price for deep-pocketed sharps as we approach Saturday’s extravaganza. It’s unlikely that an influx of sharp action across the city will come anywhere near balancing the books. Operators have accepted that they’ll be rooting for Mayweather. Sharp action will only lessen their exposure to the flood of McGregor money that’s been coming in from more casual fans since even before the fight was officially announced.

Important to remember that the price of -500/plus 400 is still far away from the perceived “true odds” as described by close followers of both professional boxing and MMA. Some will tell you McGregor doesn’t have one chance in 100 of beating Mayweather. Others will say the likelihood is more rare! The break-even for Mayweather is 1 out of 6 decisions. Mindboggling to those who bet for a living, where the difference between “true odds” and “market prices” are usually are slight or non-existent. 

Maybe the market is telling us:

  • Mayweather has an 83% chance of winning based on boxing skill
  • “Something Crazy” has a 16% chance of happening to help McGregor
  • McGregor has a 1% chance of winning based on boxing skill 

Isn’t anything possible when it comes to boxing…MMA…or Las Vegas? Given the large exposure the city’s sportsbooks will be facing as the bout begins, let’s hope this isn’t like the script of a movie (“Oceans ’17?”) where shenanigans grab the Saturday night headlines.

South Point oddsmakers will provide updates on big bets and market flow on all of our programming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. 

MLB: Recent form shows cream rising, balloons popping in key races
To the degree the various races are sorting themselves out, they’re doing so because of some extremes in recent form for key teams. Today’s midweek report (the calm before another football storm) provides a great opportunity to get caught up with the races while examining that recent form. 

As shorthand, we use games over/under the .500 mark to help you visualize the races. 

AL East

  • Boston plus 20 (16-4 its last 20 games!)
  • NY Yankees plus 11 (20-12 its last 32)

The Bronx Bombers are getting results even with Aaron Judge striking out on a nightly basis. But that sparkling 20-12 mark hasn’t been enough to keep up with the red hot Red Sox. Boston is now 20 games over .500 after their big win Wednesday night in Cleveland. They are playing like champions. Though, catching Houston (plus 28) from behind for the top seed still seems like a tall order. Tough to play .800 ball for another month!

AL Central

  • Cleveland plus 13 (21-8 its last 29 games!)
  • Minnesota plus 4 (13-5 its last 18 games)
  • Kansas City plus 3 (10-14 its last 24 games)

Even with its loss at home to Boston, that was almost their third in a row in the series, the Indians are having a great month that’s helped distance them from the Twins. The big surprise is the Twins! Almost every indicator you can imagine showed them turning into a pumpkin in the second half of the season. They continue to battle hard and make the most of what appears to be an inferior talent base (when compared to other top contenders). Kansas City was on top of the world just before the All-Star Break. But .416 play over the last 25 games has probably ended the Royals’ chances to win the division, while leaving them scrambling in a crowded field for the one likely Wildcard spot available behind the Yankees. HUGE win for them Wednesday night thanks to a ninth inning walk-off three-run homer against Colorado. 

AL Wildcard (best two qualify for a play-in game)

  • NY Yankees plus 11
  • LA Angels plus 4 (pending late Wednesday final vs. Texas)
  • Minnesota plus 4
  • Kansas City plus 3 
  • Texas -1 (pending late Wednesday final vs. LAA)

The Angels were 10-3 their prior 13 heading into the late finisher in Anaheim Wednesday night vs. the Rangers. Texas was 9-4 the prior 13 themselves…so two additional teams who either “lifted” their game recently, or at least took advantage of opponents that lost some fire while playing out the string. 

Falling off the pace have been Baltimore (6-9 its last 15 games) and Tampa Bay (5-13 its last 18 games). Probably the biggest “bad” surprise of recent weeks has been that Tampa Bay collapse. Their bats disappeared at the worst possible time…and stayed hidden for a few weeks against opponents they just had to beat. 

Moving to the Senior Circuit…

NL Central

  • Chicago Cubs plus 11 (25-12 since All-Star Break)
  • Milwaukee plus 4 (7-3 its last 10 games)
  • St. Louis plus 2 (11-6 its last 17 games)

Great stuff from the Cubs in recent weeks. They’ve weathered some injury storms. And they have a friendly schedule the rest of the season thanks to MLB schedules that emphasize divisional play. St. Louis is still in the discussion…but the Cards have no margin for error left. A win Wednesday over San Diego ended an ill-timed three-game slide. 

NL Wildcard

  • Arizona plus 11 (6-12 its last 18 games, 16-22 since ASB)
  • Colorado plus 10 (4-11 its last 15 games)
  • Milwaukee plus 4

All three lost Wednesday, meaning the Brewers missed out on a huge opportunity to get even closer. They would have been within two games of the second Wildcard spot if they had defeated the Giants in San Francisco. That seemed unimaginable a few weeks ago. Arizona and Colorado have really hit the skids, particularly compared to their prior form. 

That wraps up Thursday. Back with you tomorrow to close out the week. If you’re reading this on the home page of the website, remember that signing up for a free subscription gets you morning delivery in your email box, plus access to those great betting sheets from the South Point in a handy PDF file. Click here to subscribe

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