By Larry Greenfield
BETTING THE FUTURE ! THE NFL 2020 Season OVER / UNDER Team Total Win Lines
It is true that teams have not yet arrived for NFL preseason camp, and there will be more trades and signings before Week 1.
And, while the April, 2020 NFL draft, as well as several free agent player signings, are complete, we await pre-season game performance evaluations and key August injury reports, as well as the crime blotter and league rulings on potential suspensions.
However, it is not too early to consider the opening season total wins lines for the NFL 2020 season.
A recent listing of these totals for the 2020 season appears HERE.
Note that some quick math reveals that by adding up all the listed win totals for the 32 teams, the total is more than an average of 8 wins per team over the 16 game regular season.
The starting point for weighing the oddsmakers win totals is to pretend that every team will go 8 - 8. That would mean in the 256 regular season games, there will be 256 total wins in the NFL (and 256 losses).
But the early lines indicate oddsmakers have the 32 NFL teams going a collective 274 - 238 in the regular season. The lines, overall, are biased to the over.
Now, it is possible for more than half the teams to cover their over / under total season wins line, because a few teams might dramatically underperform.
If a few teams hardly win any games at all, that means the teams they play can rack up victories, and all of them can beat their respective total wins lines.
But the bias for wins is clearly pushing up at least some teams total wins lines above what might reasonably appear to be fair value.
(Note as well, that if a team ties a game, that counts as a loss if you bet the over — as that’s a game the team did not win). That favors an under bet a bit.
So, why would it be that oddsmakers have set the over / under lines high (at least as an overall cumulative matter) ?
One reason is that bettors may tend to bet on their favorite team(s), as a way to cheer all season with a bit of money behind their emotions.
The sports books may expect bettors to favor their hometown team, and so they set the line a bit higher to take advantage of bias by bettors.
Another reason is that the oddsmakers may force you to bet, for example, -120 units to win 100 (or to lose 120) on a ticket.
This is an attempt to increase the bookmakers revenue and can be overlooked by casual bettors, who perhaps are not as savvy as weekly bettors who expect the normal -105 or -110
odds on most games.
Unfortunately, there is a long tradition of lousy odds for bettors placing futures bets.
The odds to win the NFL Super Bowl are arguably unreasonably low for many teams. Again, the books are hoping you will bet on your favorite team at 10 - 1, for example,
when the “right” price should be something like 20 - 1.
Rarely do pre-season long shots win the NFL Super Bowl. So, while bettors may be pleased to pick up 20 - 1 or 30 - 1 on their home team, the true odds should be much, much more rewarding to them. This is a sneaky part of sports betting that seems to favor the house.
I also don’t feel that betting the favorites to win the Super Bowl, on short odds, is a solid play — once the playoffs start, you will get similar odds, and so you might better avoid the risk all season of a star QB being lost to major injury.
Note that another factor with futures bets is that the book holds your money all season. Usually, all games must be played for the bet to count — but always check the house rules.
If the team wins exactly the number of games predicted, the bettor “pushes” and should receive back his bet.
The best part of future bets is your ability to hedge.
Suppose you bet a team to win less than 8.5 NFL games in 2020, (and again, a game played to a tie helps you here), but they are close to winning their 9th game somewhere along the way this season. You can then perhaps bet on them (straight up, not considering the game's point spread) and if they do win that game, you collect, even while your total wins under bet goes down the drain. At least you have hedged your likely forthcoming loss on your futures bet.
So, I recommend a few under bets on total season wins for the middle of the pack teams, (I like RAMS UNDER 8.5 total wins) and, if you must, perhaps a long shot or two who you think may make the playoffs, to win the Super Bowl.
Then, once your long shot is in the playoffs, you can hedge and bet against them, guaranteeing you either an immediate win, or a step closer to collecting on your long shot bet.
Guest contributor Larry Greenfield is a Fellow of The Claremont Institute who has morphed from innocent boyhood SoCal sports fan to cynical Las Vegas sports observer. Greenfield can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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