When Will New England Be Overpriced?

Tony Salinas: When Will New England Be Overpriced?

I have to say that one of the most amazing things I've seen in my years as a Las Vegas bettor is the consistency with which the New England Patriots (who host the Philadelphia Eagles tonight on ESPN) have covered their regular season pointspreads during their recent dynasty.

It's a rule of thumb in the betting markets (and it's a GOOD rule of thumb!) that the best teams don't offer any pointspread value because the general public wants to bets so much money on them. That's supposed to drive the line so high that the "smart" strategy is to either pass or go the other way.

You're supposed to fade the best NFL teams
You're supposed to fade the projected college football championship contenders
You're supposed to fade the big name college basketball programs
You're supposed to fade the NBA superpowers
You're supposed to fade the NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and whoever else is riding high in baseball

Now, with those strategies you're still going to GET THE BEST OF IT over the long haul. But, New England's amazing performance against the spread has reduced the winning percentage and the overall profit for that general approach. This is a team that's almost been "spread proof" the past several years. Take a look...

2011: 9-7
2010: 10-5-1
2009: 7-7-2
2008: 9-7
2007: 10-6
2006: 10-6
2005: 8-8
2004: 11-3-2
2003: 13-2-1

Total: 87-51-6, 63% vs. the spread!

Things have settled down a bit in recent seasons after that ridiculous 24-5-3 run back in 2003 and 2004. But, you can see above that the Pats never had a losing won-lost mark against the spread. They juiced out for about minus one unit in the .500 seasons of 2009 and 2005. Even though:

Everyone knows this is a dynasty franchise
Everyone knows Tom Brady is a great quarterback
Vegas tabs the Pats as the favorite to win the AFC Championship about every year
Vegas puts legitimately high spreads on the Pats week by week

With all that, the Patriots still cover their spreads to such a degree that it makes no sense to fade them in the regular season...and you can actually make money backing them. Why is that?

  • Bill Belichick loves running up the score. He's much more like a college coach in that regard. He wants to see big victory margins and he's not going to call off the dogs. He figures it's his job to score and it's your job to stop him as long as the clock is running. That leads to a lot of victory margins in the 20's and 30's...and Vegas just won't go that high with their numbers.

  • Opponents are under tremendous pressure to hang tough with the Patriots...which means they often implode with turnovers. This sets up cheap points for a Patriots team that already knows how to score. That magnifies the margins in blowouts...and makes it much easier to cover a -10, a -14, or a -17 spread.

  • Vegas oddsmakers are too set in their ways to get the spread up to where they really should be! They finally got closer in recent seasons, which is why don't see any more crazy records like we had back in 2003 and 2004. But, they still haven't been able to truly capture the margin potential of this Patriots team in their pointspreads.

You longtime readers know my general tendency is to play underdogs. The rule of thumb about fading the public and the media darling teams DOES work out over the long haul over a full calendar year of sports. I've had to cut back on my fading of New England though. I'll only do that when they're facing very good defensive teams, or very good quarterbacks who can hang with them enough to get the money through the back door in the fourth quarter.

At some point, both Belichick and Brady will get too old to cover these huge spreads week in and week out. Maybe that happens this year. But, based on what I've seen so far from AFC East foes Miami, the NY Jets, and Buffalo, maybe the dynasty is going to keep humming along for awhile longer.

Tonight's nationally televised game with Philadelphia isn't a regular season game...and Brady won't be on the field in the second half when the pointspread winner will likely be determined. So, I can either back or fade the Pats without worrying too much about market dynamics. In fact, I like the side and possibly the total in tonight's game.

My $20 High Stakes Monday Slate:
*Team side pointspread winner in Philadelphia/New England
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