So this is my second post in about five days where I go through betting lines for the 2013 NFL season with a fine tooth comb. Keep in mind that none of the games I'm investing my time and energy in here take place until at least four months from now, but still, I pore over schedules, draft classes, trends, and such.
In college, I was a finance major, and it has become abundantly clear: if I had spent the amount of time throwing myself into my major in and after college as I do the betting lines for a football season that's still 120 days away, then I wouldn't have to wager on football.
But I'd also be miserable, and no one wants to be miserable. Let's get to these season win totals, shall we?
Thanks to Cantor Gaming, we have the first set of season win total lines for the upcoming NFL season, or as I like to call it "Christmas in May":
11 WINS San Francisco 49ers Denver Broncos New England Patriots
10 1/2 WINS Green Bay Packers Houston Texans
10 WINS Atlanta Falcons Seattle Seahawks
9 1/2 WINS Pittsburgh Steelers
9 WINS New York Giants Baltimore Ravens New Orleans Saints
8 1/2 WINS Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Indianapolis Colts Dallas Cowboys
8 WINS Washington Redskins
7 1/2 WINS Tampa Bay Buccaneers San Diego Chargers Detroit Lions
7 WINS Philadelphia Eagles Carolina Panthers Minnesota Vikings
6 1/2 WINS Buffalo Bills Kansas City Chiefs Miami Dolphins New York Jets St. Louis Rams Tennessee Titans
5 1/2 WINS Cleveland Browns Arizona Cardinals Oakland Raiders
5 WINS Jacksonville Jaguars
Five thoughts on these odds:
5. One general, personal philosophy when it comes to betting season win totals: It has to be a blatant blown line on Vegas' part (And yes, I know, how many times does that happen, right?) for me to take an OVER on a season win total bet due to the mere fact that not only are you dealing with the game to game uncertainty of NFL football, but you also have to factor in the possibility of a season ending injury (especially to a quarterback) cratering your bet as well. It just feels like there's more clutter to navigate, both execution and luck, to win an OVER bet. (And if this paragraph still doesn't register with you, imagine having an OVER bet on any of the 11 win teams and watching Brady, Manning, or Kaepernick go down. There, now you get it?)
4. So that said, my immediate reaction bets that I love and will place some of the my hard earned Houston Press blogging money on:
- Jacksonville UNDER 5 wins. Although admittedly, this one flies in the face of what I just espoused above in that Blaine Gabbert getting hurt might actually give the Jags a better chance to get over 5 wins. Think about the Texans' home game with Jacksonville last season: Blaine Gabbert gets knocked out of the game and in comes Chad Henne who took the Texans to overtime and threw for 354 yards and 4 touchdowns. With that in mind, the Jags are terrible and no available upgrade over Gabbert gets them to five wins. Gabbert himself doesn't get them to three wins.
- New York Jets UNDER 6 1/2 wins. Lame duck coach, lame duck quarterback, road games outside the division against Atlanta, Cincinnati and Baltimore? I would feel sick at my stomach if I thought the Jets needed to get to 7 wins for me to win a wager. And the opposite of "sick at my stomach" is how I want to feel.
- Kansas City Chiefs OVER 6 1/2 wins. In my piece last week on the Week 1 through Week 16 betting lines, I had this to say about the Chiefs:
Finally, if you're looking for a sneaky team to be one of this season's "horrible to playoffs in one season" teams (There's at least one every year.), how about the Chiefs? New coach, new quarterback, great home field advantage...and Vegas is somewhat hip to them. The Chiefs are favored in 5 games, underdogs in eight games, and a Pick 'Em in two games. But in the eight games in which they are underdogs, it's by a total of 26 points (a little over a field goal per game). And in the six games that aren't against the Broncos, the total spread is 14.5 points (under a field goal per game!).
So I'd be remiss not to bet on them, right? I mean, it would be downright rude of me not to wager on the Kansas City Chiefs, wouldn't it? As for my trepidation about betting on an OVER, I kind of like Chase Daniel as the back up quarterback so an Alex Smith injury doesn't scare me too much, and I trust Andy Reid if the goal (for my purposes) is to get to 7-9. So...yes, Chiefs, OVER.
3. Before last season, I talked about a trend that we had seen for around a decade that said this: Anytime a team finished as a double digit win team the season after they went 7-9 or worse, 26 out of 29 (nearly 90 percent) times they regressed to 9-7 or worse. In other words, a vast majority of the time a fast rising team has some "fool's gold" to them.
Well, last season actually bucked that trend as only one of the three teams fitting that criteria (Detroit, San Francisco, and your Houston Texans!) backslid to single digit win irrelevance. (To be fair, Detroit backslid far enough for all three teams combined, reverting to an horrific 4-12 nightmare.) Still, we are looking at a ten year trend of 27 out of 32 teams (84 percent) who revert back to mediocrity after a one season jump to the lofty atmosphere of the double digit big cheeses.
So who are our candidates in 2013?
- Washington Redskins, 5-11 in 2011, 10-6 in 2012, 2013 Vegas Line: 8 wins - Minnesota Vikings, 3-13 in 2011, 10-6 in 2012, 2013 Vegas Line: 7 wins - Seattle Seahawks, 7-9 in 2011, 11-5 in 2012, 2013 Vegas Line: 10 wins - Indianapolis Colts, 2-14 in 2011, 11-5 in 2012, 2013 Vegas Line: 8 1/2 wins
So the last ten years of history says that three out of these four teams should revert to 9-7 or worse this season. Unfortunately, there are two issues here:
First, three of the four teams actually have posted lines that are already less than nine wins, so Vegas seems to have caught up to this trend (or they just don't think those teams are for real). Second, the influx of ready made NFL rookie quarterbacks the last two years has completely recalibrated the expectations on how long a turnaround should take and how real a turnaround is. Do we really feel like there's anything "flash in the pan" about Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson? Are you cool betting on any of those three to be ".500 or worse" quarterbacks?
That said, if I have to take a couple of these to go under, give me Indianapolis (who won several close games last year, always a red flag for regression to mean) and Minnesota (who has to play Green Bay and Chicago twice and play a second place schedule).
2. If you're feeling saucy and not afraid to gamble on the health of quarterbacks, go ahead and take the OVER on the top three teams on the board (49ers, Patriots, Broncos OVER 11). I can't imagine you not going 2-1, worst case.
1. Now for the Texans, I have a feeling the money is going to come in heavier on the UNDER for 10 1/2 wins, due to a combination of Matt Schaub being a clear departure from the other four quarterbacks whose teams are in the OVER 10 1/2 win club (Brady, Manning, Kaepernick, Rodgers....Schaub?) and a lot of people will see the Colts' OVER 8 1/2 as a great value that directly impacts the Texans' number. Why is that important? Because I think if you wait, you can get the Texans OVER 10 1/2 wins with some extra juice, like +110 or +120. I like them to go over that number, especially if they find a way to get through the first five games (at San Diego, vs Tennessee, at Baltimore, vs Seattle, at San Francisco) at 3-2 or better.
(h/t to outkickthecoverage.com)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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