Betting NFL Win Props
The betting markets have become more conservative over the last couple years when it comes to the summer NFL win totals. In years' past it wasn't uncommon to see extreme numbers - maybe New England was on "12" requiring them to go 13-3 just to barely cash an Over. Or somebody like Jacksonville might be on the reverse end of the spectrum with a number like "4". It was a great moneymaker for sharp players who could just bet against the extremes and pick up a few easy wins.
But the market has been gradually adjusting and this year there may be a new extreme - nobody has a win total higher than 10.5. While asking a great team to go 13-3 may be pushing it, asking for 11-5 from a consistent winning operation is much more reasonable.
Seven different teams are on 10.5 - Green Bay, Cincinnati, Seattle, Arizona, Carolina, New England and Pittsburgh. It's tempting to just universally bet the Over on all seven and go for a 4-3 record. But is it smart? Here's a snapshot look at the seven favorites, with the price on betting Over 10.5 in parentheses...
Green Bay (-170): In spite of a bad year from Aaron Rodgers the Packers still won 10 games in 2015, so a return to form and one more win is pretty reasonable. In previous seasons where Rodgers was healthy (excluding 2013 when he missed eight games), the Packers won eleven games four of six times. Although given the price this is one team you can't be wrong on if you bet all seven favorites across the board.
Cincinnati (-160): It's surprising to see the Bengals this high on the board. Andy Dalton has been the quarterback for five years and the Bengals have only won 11 or more twice. One of those was last season, which likely drives this number. We get the logic, but don't like the price.
Seattle (-150): Another stiff price given the Seahawks finished 10-6 last year and have to replace Marshawn Lynch. That's a lot of pressure to put on Russell Wilson, an offensive line that still needs to improve and a defense which continues to have little margin for error.
Arizona (-145): The Cardinals have won 11 or more each of the last two years and perhaps most important is that when they did it in 2014, it was with Carson Palmer missing ten games. We wouldn't like to chance it if the fragile Palmer does get hurt again, but it's nice to know Bruce Arians isn't completely dependent on his quarterback.
Carolina (+100): Why is the market down - at least relatively speaking on Carolina? They're the only team you can get a favorable price on to simply win 11 games. We always respect the fact that teams like the Panthers can come down to earth hard after a great year, but after going 15-1, they have plenty of cushion.
New England (-115): This is all about the uncertainty regarding Tom Brady. If Brady plays all 16 games - or even if his suspension gets reduced to a single game, this is a fantastic price on a number that Brady has hit in 12 of his previous 15 seasons.
Pittsburgh (-115): The logic behind the number makes sense - the Steelers won ten games last year and look better this time around. But they're also in a tough division, presuming the Ravens can make a comeback. It could get tougher if Hue Jackson can make improvements in Cleveland. Whatever you side you pick on the Steelers' this number is probably coming down to the final week.
A review of the numbers suggest that a sweeping "Bet all seven" strategy probably isn't smart. The market prices leave too little room for error at the highest level and teams like Seattle and Cincinnati are just priced too high. There is good value though. It's all about picking your spots and in this quiet time of summer that's what the NFL-only handicappers on staff here are working feverishly to nail down.
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