Posted Monday, June 23, 2014 10:46 AM
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the seven NFC teams that are
projected to improve or decline by two wins or more in 2014 based on the
current market numbers for their season win totals. I intended to write Part II of the article
last week, talking about the four AFC teams that are also projected to improve
or decline by two wins or more in 2014, but I got derailed by the College
Football Game of the Year openers at the Golden Nugget; a ‘must report’
event. So, let’s just call it ‘better
late than never’!
The markets are telling us to expect ‘more of the same’ from
12 of the 16 AFC teams. What makes these
four squads different? My goal here is to focus on why these particular teams
are expected to improve or decline significantly compared to last year. I’ll do that by looking at how the broader
market conditions affect the numbers.
What do the markets fixate upon?
What do they largely ignore? Read
on to find out.
Kansas City Chiefs:
11-5 in 2013, O/U 8 wins in 2014.
Last year in this space, I called the Chiefs coming off a
truly dismal 2-14 campaign “the poster child for the ‘expected to be the most
improved team in the NFL’ category.”
Here’s an excerpt:
“Quite literally, just
about every statistic and metric that we have to predict NFL success or failure
points towards an i... [More]
Posted Monday, June 16, 2014 11:14 AM
The sportsbetting world here in Las Vegas has shifted into
full summer mode over the past week. The
NBA and NHL Finals are now in the rear view mirror with the Spurs and Kings
crowned as champions, leaving a modest sportsbetting void even in the midst of the
Once the Finals end, my focus shifts towards the upcoming
football season, and I’m certainly not alone in that regard. Last week I wrote about NFL Season Win totals
that have begun to proliferate in Las Vegas (still lagging behind offshore,
though). Part 2 of that article will
come next week in this space.
This past Friday, we saw another clear sign that football is
just around the corner, as the Golden Nugget released their lines on 200
‘College Football Games of the Year’. These
GOY pointspreads were posted on about 10-15 high profile marquee games a week,
beginning with the Texas A&M – South Carolina and Boise St – Ole Miss
showdowns on Thursday, August 28th, while running through the likes
of Oklahoma – Oklahoma St, Kansas St – Baylor and Army – Navy in December.
This is the eighth consecutive year that the Nugget has been
the first place in Vegas to post college football game pointspreads. And
there’s always quite a ‘scene’ at the sportsbook when the numbers are posted,
as bettors who have done their homework jostle amongst each other in... [More]
Posted Monday, June 09, 2014 11:14 AM
I’ve been waiting patiently for the NFL Season Wins market
to mature, but that doesn’t happen quickly here in June. Most of the notable offshores have not posted
Over/Under win totals yet, leaving Vegas as the only active market right now.
As a result, all the numbers used in this article are from right here in Sin
Of the 32 NFL teams, only 11 have Over/Under win totals that
are different from their final record last year by two games or more. In other words, the markets are telling us to
expect ‘more of the same’ from 21 of the 32 teams in the league.
In my Vegas Wiseguy Report article over the next two weeks,
I’m going to focus on those eleven teams that are expected to morph positively
or negatively from last year. The goal
of this discussion is to focus on why these particular teams are expected to
improve or decline significantly compared to last year. I’ll do that by looking at how the broader
market conditions affect the numbers.
What do the markets fixate upon?
What do they largely ignore? Read
on to find out.
This week’s focus will be on the seven NFC teams that are
projected to improve or decline by two wins or more in 2014 based on the current
market numbers for their season win totals.
Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
Next week, I’ll break down the four AFC teams with an exten... [More]
Posted Monday, June 02, 2014 12:00 PM
Last week, I wrote that “the
NFL offseason, at least for sportsbettors, is essentially over. Numbers are up, and they’re moving!”
“My first step in
assessing the upcoming NFL season begins with a thorough look back at last
year. Every team’s power rating is set,
in large part, based on where they finished the previous campaign. Obviously, adjustments are made for injuries,
luck, offseason improvements or declines, coaching changes and the like, but
those base power rating numbers factor in what happened in 2013 very heavily.”
Last week, I focused on the 16 teams from the AFC. In this week’s Vegas Wiseguy Report, I’ll
pass along a tidbit or two from each of the 16 NFC teams in regards to last
year. My focus is on things that are NOT
likely to repeat the same way in 2014. And
this week, I’ll do my absolute best to avoid egregious errors like my ‘San
Diego didn’t make the 2013 playoffs’ mistake from last week.
The Dallas Cowboys
have a grand total of one playoff win since 1996; a franchise that has sunk
into long term mediocrity over the past decade.
Given their extensive salary cap woes, it’s not going to be easy for
Dallas to end that streak in 2014. Last
year, the Cowboys defense allowed a woeful 6.1 yards per play, ranked #31 out
of 32 teams. And Dallas will be hard pressed
to repeat their 67% fumble ... [More]
Posted Monday, May 26, 2014 11:16 AM
The LVH Superbook posted their NFL Season Win totals last
weekend. Cantor sportsbooks (CG
Technology) have had season win totals posted for months. Many other books both here in Vegas and
offshore have posted season win totals, Week 1 pointspreads and ‘Game of the
Year’ pointspreads. Most books that
haven’t posted NFL numbers yet plan to do so in the near future. The NFL offseason, at least for
sportsbettors, is essentially over.
Numbers are up, and they’re moving!
My first step in assessing the upcoming NFL season begins
with a thorough look back at last year.
Every team’s power rating is set, in large part, based on where they
finished the previous campaign.
Obviously, adjustments are made for injuries, luck, offseason
improvements or declines, coaching changes and the like, but those base power
rating numbers factor in what happened in 2013 very heavily.
In this week’s Vegas Wiseguy Report, I’ll pass along a tidbit
or two from each of the 16 AFC teams in regards to last year. My focus is on things that are NOT likely to
repeat the same way in 2014. I’ll offer
similar analysis for the 16 NFC teams in my column next week.
The Buffalo Bills
have the NFL’s longest current postseason drought; dating back to the Music City
Miracle game in January 2000. They’re coming off three consecutive 6-10
Posted Monday, May 19, 2014 11:35 AM
Only four teams remain standing in the NBA Playoffs; one of
whom will bring home the title less than a month from now. For all the drama of the first two rounds, it’s
an all-chalk Final Four, with the top two seeds from each conference battling
With both Conference Finals getting underway on Sunday and
Monday, I’ll take a closer look at the two series. The goal, as always, is to unearth hidden
nuggets pointing towards future pointspread success while assessing pace and
totals as well.
Predicting series success generally correlates strongly with
predicting pointspread success when it comes to the NBA Playoffs. But not as much as last year! In 2013, the Final Four teams combined to go
31-11 (74%) against the spread in the first two rounds of postseason; each of
the four teams cashing at a 67% clip or better.
The ‘surprise’ team of the four, Memphis, went 10-1 ATS through the
first two rounds before covering only once while getting swept by San Antonio.
The ATS success of the Final Four teams in 2014 pales in
comparison to 2013. Between them, the
NBA’s Final Four have turned a profit this postseason, going 25-21-1 ATS. But that 54% mark is a long, long way from
last year’s 74% return for two major reasons.
First, this is an all-chalk Final Four – there are no ATS
Posted Monday, May 12, 2014 10:22 AM
The NFL draft is a thing of beauty for those who appreciate
hype without substance. After months of
hype – literally, months of it, more hype than we see for any Super Bowl – the
first round of the NFL draft attracted 32 million viewers to the coverage on
ESPN and the NFL Network.
That’s a massive 28 percent increase over the 25 million
that watched the draft in 2013. On
digital media platforms, the draft drew more than 14 million visits, a 54
percent increase from 2013. And I’m not
convinced the ratings gold were all the result of Johnny Manziel ‘s crossover
publicity. Fans and bettors alike seem
to think that the draft is important.
The pre-draft hype is a series of smokescreens, with GM’s
and personnel directors around the league unwilling to divulge any meaningful information
to media types and those who communicate with media types. We see mock drafts for weeks leading up to
the real draft, with the likes of Todd McShay, Mel Kiper, Pete Prisco and Mike
Mayock offering their informed predictions.
And yet despite multiple revisions of those mock drafts --
even the final versions released on draft day itself -- the best result from
the most-hyped predictors was to nail six of the 32 first round draft choices
here in 2014. That’s not exactly a track
record of accuracy, yet it’s remarkably consisten... [More]
Posted Monday, May 05, 2014 10:26 AM
The first round of the NBA Playoffs is in the books; a near perfect
storm for underdog bettors. Dogs emerged
victorious in three series: Portland over Houston, Washington over Chicago and
Brooklyn over Toronto. The underdog –
Dallas in every game – went 6-1 ATS in the Spurs – Mavs series. Other series losers like Atlanta, Memphis and
Golden State proved to be feistier than expected. Put it all together and we saw dogs go
32-15-3 ATS for the full 50 games played in the first round.
Should we expect Round 2 to follow the same path? All four series certainly look competitive on
paper, although top seeds Miami and San Antonio are both significant favorites
to knock off Brooklyn and Portland respectively. The series prices for Washington – Indiana and
LA Clippers – Oklahoma City are certainly indicative of tight battles to
come. In this week’s Vegas Wiseguy Report
I’ll examine each series, looking for matchup edges that could offer ATS value
as the series progress.
Indiana was lucky to survive their first round test against Atlanta. The Hawks gave away Game 4 at home down the stretch,
then did the exact same thing in Game 6; suffering a major meltdown over the
final three minutes of the game. That
being said, the Pacers finished the series with a winning ATS mark over the seven
games along with a significant confidence/momentum boost fr... [More]
Posted Monday, April 28, 2014 10:39 AM
Seven of the eight first round NBA Playoff series have
proven to be competitive – only the Miami Heat have a commanding 3-0 series
lead in their series over the Charlotte Bobcats. After
an opening weekend that saw underdogs go 6-2 ATS, 5-3 SU, the prevailing trend
of upsets continued throughout the last week.
The current numbers are quite striking. Pointspread favorites are a woeful 7-21-2 ATS
through the first 30 playoff games. In
fact the favored team is just 14-16 SU – underdog moneyline bettors have been
feasting over the first nine days of playoff action. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the lower
seeded team has the series lead in the Spurs – Mavs, Wizards –Bulls and Blazers
– Rockets series, with potentially ‘live’ underdogs still in play for Memphis –
OKC, Golden State – LA Clippers, Brooklyn - Toronto and Atlanta – Indiana.
What gives? Why have
the dogs covered at a 75% clip through the first 30 Playoff games? Let’s start with the simple premise that the
top seeds are more vulnerable than the markets expected while the lower seeds
have proven to be no pushovers.
The #1 seeds (Pacers and Spurs) have combined to go 2-5 ATS
against the #8 seeds (Hawks and Mavs), even after the Pacers gutted out a tight
half point cover in their three point win at Atlanta in Game 4. Indiana’s second half point... [More]
Posted Monday, April 21, 2014 09:38 AM
There were eight opening round NBA Playoff Series that started
this past weekend. The lower seeded road
teams – all underdogs in Game 1 – went 6-2 ATS, including five outright upset
winners. There were four games that flew
Over the total, three that stayed Under and one (Miami – Charlotte) that
finished right in between the opening and closing total.
This is just the start of a two month NBA Playoff marathon,
and these Game 1’s may not be indicative of how these opening round series are
likely to play out. Here are some key ‘Notes
and Quotes’ for each series following those Game 1’s.
Miami looked sluggish and lethargic for extended stretches
of their opener against Charlotte, but took over the game with an 18-4 run in the
fourth quarter when LeBron James was sitting on the bench. Head coach Erik Spoelstra: “We were flat to start. I think our guys were
just anxious." LeBron: “That group
that was in once I took that break at the 10-minute mark in the fourth quarter,
they just bumped the lead. Obviously, to have three Hall of Famers in the game
when I'm out of the game, CB, D-Wade and Ray ... that was big-time." Meanwhile, Bobcats leading scorer and
rebounder Al Jefferson was in a walking boot after the game. His quote?
“Just got to suck it up, man.”
The veteran Chicago Bulls led the inexperienced Washingto... [More]
Posted Monday, April 14, 2014 10:30 AM
We’re two weeks into the marathon baseball season, but there
hasn’t been a lot that stands out thusfar in the standings. The Milwaukee Brewers are riding a nine game
winning streak into the new week, a ‘surprise’ team with the best current
record in baseball. And the defending
World Series champs, the Boston Red Sox, have slumped out of the gate, sitting
in last place in the AL East.
Frankly, we should expect these sorts of anomalies in early
season play – in fact we should expect more of them than we’ve seen thusfar. But there’s not much we can expect to
accomplish from riding hot teams out of the gate and fading
underachievers. Based on two weeks worth
of results, I wouldn’t recommend betting on the Brewers or against the Red Sox
on a daily basis moving forward. A hot
or cold start is not necessarily a ‘leading indicator’ for a hot or cold
But MLB totals are a very different story. I’ve written several previous articles about
why I look to bet MLB totals – particularly Overs – all summer long. To summarize three key points from those
previous articles, the betting markets don’t notice streaks of Overs or Unders
at anywhere near the level that the markets notice wins and losses, making
streaks easier to ‘ride’ without laying a hefty price.
Secondly, Overs beget Overs and Unders beget Unders.&n... [More]
Posted Monday, April 07, 2014 10:24 AM
The Indiana Pacers have been a remarkable pointspread story
this year, worthy of a ‘Wiseguy Report’ to examine in detail what has happened
and why. To be thorough, this story
starts last year when the Pacers flexed their collective muscles, developing
into a title contender for the first time in a decade.
Indiana was good, not great, in the 2012-13 regular
season. They won 49 games, tied for the
third best record in the (much) weaker of the two conferences. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about the
Pacers heading into the playoffs last year:
“A month ago, I would
have listed the Pacers as Miami’s toughest Eastern Conference potential
test. Indiana’s defensive numbers rank
among the best in the NBA, and low post behemoth Roy Hibbert is a very tough
matchup for the Heat in the paint.
Indiana beat Miami twice during the regular season, and the Pacers were
the last team to give the Heat real trouble in the playoffs last year, taking a
2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi’s before the Heat closed out the
series with three straight wins.
But the Pacers have
not played well down the stretch; struggling to find offensive production
during crunch time of close games. Can
the George Hill/Lance Stephenson/Paul George trio really hang with LeBron and
Dwayne Wade for seven games? And with
aging powe... [More]
Posted Monday, March 31, 2014 10:19 AM
You’ll be reading more than enough about the Final Four in
the week to come. You’ll be able to find
my initial take on the two games in my ESPN.com piece, midweek. So I’m going to focus on the NBA in this
week’s Wiseguy Report, picking up right where I left off last week, when I
broke down a handful of Eastern Conference ‘morphers’.
It’s worth noting that since I wrote that article, blindly
supporting the three ‘bet-on’ teams that I mentioned (Cleveland, Philadelphia
and Brooklyn) while fading my one ‘bet-against’ squad (Indiana) has produced a
10-5 ATS result. Hopefully this edition,
focusing on Western Conference ‘morphers’, will produce similar short term
The San Antonio Spurs
success can’t be a surprise to any breathing human. No team in the league has been more
consistent over the past decade and a half, and San Antonio came one brutal overtime
loss short of winning the NBA Championship last June. But the Spurs have been routinely
disrespected in the markets this year.
They were priced appropriately to start the season, going
16-4 SU in their first twenty games, yet finishing .500 ATS. But the markets did not like the fact that
San Antonio struggled against other top teams over the first half of the
season. The Spurs were positively dominated by the quintet of Houston, the LA
Clippers, India... [More]
Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 09:59 AM
While the betting markets focus on post-season college
basketball tournaments and the upcoming baseball season, the long and winding
NBA campaign still offers plenty of wagering opportunities down the homestretch.
There are still 3 ½ weeks left in the regular season. Most squads have between 12 and 14 games
remaining. And very quietly, underneath the
radar, we’ve seen a handful of late season ‘morphers’; teams playing well above
or well below their full season power rating numbers. Those are the teams I’m looking to focus on
in this week’s Vegas Wiseguy Report, particularly in the Eastern Conference.
76ers have lost 24 games in a row as I write this very early on Monday
morning. This is no surprise – the Sixers
have been openly tanking since last summer, playing for ping-pong balls, not
victories. And for the better part of
the first four months of the campaign, the sportsbooks couldn’t hang a line
high enough to get bettors to support this completely anonymous, sorry
Philly hasn’t gotten any better in recent weeks. But their opponents aren’t giving maximum
effort when they face the Sixers either, knowing that Brett Brown’s squad isn’t
capable of giving them a legitimate challenge.
The likes of Utah (-7), Milwaukee (-3), Orlando (-4) and Sacramento (-9.5)
have all been favored ... [More]
Posted Monday, March 17, 2014 04:36 AM
We’ve got brackets to break down! I’ll offer a quick take on the 28 matchups
already set for Thursday and Friday.
Games are listed in rotation order.
The A-10 got a handful of mediocre teams like Dayton into the NCAA Tournament mix,
but the Flyers will certainly be looking forward to a matchup against an Ohio State team that has repeatedly
avoided them in non-conference play. The
Buckeyes enter the tourney on an 0-6 ATS run; just 4-11 ATS in their last 15
tries as chalk.
was a pointspread disaster area down the stretch, cashing only one winning bet
in their last eight ballgames. But Western Michigan’s only win against an NCAA Tournament team came on the
opening night of the season, back on November 8th, when they beat
New Mexico State.
Phil Martelli’s St
Joseph’s team hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2004, when Jameer
Nelson and Delonte West were his starting guards. UConn
is a Top 10 team for free throw shooting percentage; always key in this ‘short
favorite’ pointspread range.
21-9 ATS this season, the third best pointspread team in the tournament field –
only Wichita State and Tulsa had better spread records. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
earned their Big Dance bid the hard way, winning SU on the road at Green Bay
and then at Wright State in the Horizon League ... [More]
Posted Monday, March 10, 2014 02:51 AM
The Big Dance gets all the headlines; all the media
attention. And it makes sense why that
happens. College basketball is way too
big for the average fan. More than 350
teams in more than 30 conferences are simply too much for non-hardcore hoops aficionados
And then there’s the bracket factor. The entire country fills out brackets. They’re easy to fill out, the seedings make
sense to Joe Public, and after the first round, most of the ‘obscure’ teams are
gone. Those ‘obscure’ teams that survive
are now public darlings, Cinderalla stories that casual fans can understand and
Forget fans – I’m no ‘casual fan’, and if you’re reading
this, you probably aren’t either. We’re sports
bettors. And for serious college
basketball bettors, there’s absolutely no comparison between this week and next
week. This week, we’ve got dozens of ‘Little
Dances’, the conference tournaments that are a sports bettors dream. Next week, for the Big Dance, it’s still a
betting bonanza, but not quite as good.
Here are my Top 6 reasons why.
The Big Dance, start to finish, consists of 67 games. Once the opening weekend is done and we’ve
got a three day break before the Sweet 16, only 15 NCAA Tournament games still
remain. Serious bettors always want more
Posted Monday, March 03, 2014 03:41 AM
In Part 1 of
this article last week, I took a basic look at the profile of the past 16 NCAA
champions. From that profile, I was able to make a ‘short list’ of
potential champs in 2014, consisting of the following 18 teams: Cincinnati, Louisville, Virginia, Syracuse,
Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa St, Creighton, Villanova, Michigan, Michigan
State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, UCLA, Florida and Kentucky.
since last week, two of those 18 teams have been bounced from consideration,
including one of the co- favorites at any sportsbook in Vegas – John Calipari’s
Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky lost two
straight last week; Iowa has lost three of their last four. Both teams are now above the seven loss
cut-off line and can be eliminated.
next step in the elimination process is to look at the team’s records away from
championship is not won on a team’s home floor. Even with a favorable
location one weekend, a team is still going to have to win four ‘neutral site’
games in order to cut down the nets in Arlington on April 7th. And the
best predictive evidence that I’ve seen for future success in neutral or
hostile environments is previous success is neutral or hostile environments.
years, we’ll find a sub .500 road record or two among the list... [More]
Posted Monday, February 24, 2014 09:50 AM
Who Has What It Takes to Win the Big Dance in 2014?
History shows us many things about what it takes to be a champion. I write this article every year, and every year except for one, I have been able to identify the eventual NCAA national champion among my elite level teams.
Last year was no exception. Here’s what I wrote about Louisville in my ‘Who Has What It Takes’ article from 2013: “The Cardinals have star power, depth, experience and talent. They rebound, play defense and win games consistently away from home. Rick Pitino’s squad meets all the criteria that has been effective at predicting past championship. Plain and simple, Louisville has what it takes to win it all.” Louisville, of course, was the last team standing in the 68 team field last year, winning the national championship over Michigan.
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Posted Monday, February 10, 2014 03:21 AM
Last week I wrote about the four best pointspread teams in the
country in college hoops this year – Cleveland State, Villanova, Wichita State
and Utah. Between the four, they
combined to go 7-1 ATS over the past week, continuing to cover spreads even
after doing so consistently for the past three months. In other words, the
markets still haven’t caught up with these teams.
This week, I’m taking the opposite approach; examining the
very worst pointspread teams in all of college basketball. Why are they so bad against the spread? Will they continue to be money losers as
February rolls into March? And what statistical profile do these teams have in
common that will help us identify them as early as possible next year? Let’s take a look!
I did a version of this column last year at this same time
(second week of February). At that time,
the single worst pointspread team in all of college basketball was Indiana-
Purdue Indianapolis, abbreviated IUPUI. This year, IUPUI isn’t the single worst
pointspread team in college hoops only because they’re tied with South Alabama
and LaSalle at the bottom of the ATS standings.
This isn’t supposed to happen. In theory, the betting markets are going to
gradually de-value squads that aren’t covering pointspreads, making it highly
unlikely that the same team can be an absolute bottom feed... [More]
Posted Monday, January 06, 2014 10:43 AM
The NBA regular season is less than two weeks away from the mid-way
point of the campaign. But with the focus on football, the betting markets (and
my own writing) have paid scant attention to the pro hoops ranks. That ends here.
This week I’m going to focus on the good NBA teams; the moneymakers! I’ll break down some of the best money
earners in NBA thusfar and assess their profit making potential moving
forward. And I’ll take a look at a pair
of ‘morphers’; teams that are playing significantly better than current market
The Phoenix Suns
are at the top of any ‘moneymaker’ list; a classic example of how preseason
expectations can affect ATS results for months, even when those expectations
were clearly not right from Day 1 of the season!
Phoenix was lined in the range of 20 wins coming into the season. The markets expected a major tank from first
year, first time head coach Jeff Hornacek’s squad, angling for ping pong balls
in the NBA lottery, not for a playoff spot.
But that clearly wasn’t the case, right from the get-go – they blew out
Portland on opening night.
The Suns got great play from their dual- point guards Eric
Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. They got some
low post defense and rebounding from second year center Miles Plumlee, with
lottery pick Alex Len a complete non-factor.&nb... [More]
Posted Monday, December 30, 2013 09:08 AM
I wrote an article in this space prior to bowl season detailing
my personal strategies for turning a profit during these three weeks of high
stakes affairs. But as I do my research
for the upcoming games, I continue to find a bevy of outdated information
widely available on the internet; strategies that haven’t worked in years, yet they’ve
become a part of the gambling lexicon.
I did a national radio spot last week with a well-known
host. He brought up three strategies as
the ‘sharp Vegas method’. None of them
work. In fact, none of them have worked
in years. I don’t think the host was an idiot – there’s just a bevy of bad
information out there!
So my goal for this week’s column is to poke holes in the
outdated information. The betting
markets are not a static entity; always morphing and evolving. What worked five, ten or twenty years ago
doesn’t necessarily work as 2013 shifts to 2014. And when it comes to college football bowls,
the paradigm has clearly shifted from where it was a decade ago.
As I write this very early on Monday morning, there have
been 15 bowl games already played, with 20 more to follow. Even from this very short sample size, you
can see already that these three ‘tried and true’ strategies from years past
have bitten the dust – exactly what happened last year, and the year before