History helps in Season Win bets

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In last week’s column I presented an overview of a two types of “Future” wagers that involve Season Win Totals (SWT) and Yes/No Props for making the playoffs. Both wagers are offered for each of the 32 teams. I also alluded to an innovative prop involving SWTs that I shall get to shortly.

In looking to bet either of those props it is always easiest to make a case for teams not showing dramatic variances from last season’s performance, especially in the case of making the playoffs.

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A look at history, however, suggests there are certain parameters to be considered both in assessing SWTs and potential playoff teams on a league-wide basis before looking at individual teams.

One of the major flaws in Season Win Totals is that the lower and upper limits set by the oddsmakers are unrealistic.  By that I mean historically there are more teams whose results will fall at or below the lowest SWT and more teams will exceed the highest. 

In general, the lowest SWT set for a team will be 5 and the highest will be 11. Miami opened this season with a SWT of 5 but has since been bet down to 4.5.

This means that by concentrating at the extremes – the really bad teams and the really good ones – there are many opportunities to take advantage of the self imposed oddsmakers constraints.

My data goes back to 1990 when the NFL playoffs format was changed to include 12 rather than 10 teams. A more recent structural change was made in 2002 when Houston became the NFL’s 32nd franchise and the league was reformatted to consist of eight divisions of four teams each. Previously there were six divisions. 

The following historical results are very similar whether we look at all seasons since 1990 or just those since 2002.

On average 7.1 teams will win 11 or more games with an average of 4.5 winning at least 12.  Conversely an average of 7.5 teams will win five or fewer games with 4.9 winning 4 or less.

Since 2002 a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 teams have won at least 11 games. In each of the last seven seasons (and in 10 of the last 11) at least seven teams have reached 11 or more wins.

Also since 2002 those same minimums/maximums apply to teams that have won five or fewer games.  In each of the last eight seasons (and in 11 of the last 12) at least seven teams have won five or fewer.

At the Westgate SuperBook 17 of the 32 NFL teams have SWT between seven and nine (including several at 7.5 and 8.5).  Historically only 10 or 11 teams win seven, eight or nine games.

See Westgate SuperBook’s NFL Season Win Total Odds Here

In terms of making the playoffs since 2002 almost 85 percent of the teams making the playoffs had at least 10 wins with another 14 percent winning nine games. Taken together, over 96 percent of all playoff teams won at least nine games.

If in your evaluation you believe a team will win at least 10 game you might consider playing the Yes part of the playoffs prop, especially if it is a ‘plus’ price. If you believe a team will win 9 games you might consider a play on the Yes prop but only if you are getting a plus price. In each of the last four seasons and in 10 of the last 13 at least one team with at least nine wins has made the playoffs.  

As to the creative prop being offered, the new Circa Sports Book, operating in the Golden Gate and D Las Vegas casinos as the Circa is being constructed, offer the option of betting Over/Under three different numbers for Season Win Totals betting, adjusting the vig accordingly.

For example, if you think Baltimore will be much better than expected, instead of betting Over 8.5 at +120 you can bet Over 9.5 at +250. If you think the Ravens will struggle more than expected rather than betting Under 8.5 at -140 you might consider betting Under 7.5 at +150.

The corresponding vigs for the Ravens are Under 9.5 at -295 and Over 7.5 at -170.

One team that caught my eye early is Kansas City and the Chiefs’ record under coach Andy Reid. In 14 seasons with Philadelphia, Reid’s Eagles went Over their SWT nine times, stayed under four times and pushed once. 

In six seasons with Kansas City the Chiefs are a perfect 6 for 6 going Over its SWT, exceeding by 4, 1, 2.5, 2.5, 1 and 3.5 wins. If the Chiefs are such over-achievers this season perhaps rather than playing Over 10.5 at -110 you might consider going Over 11.5 at +230. The Chiefs have won 12 games in two of the last three seasons.


About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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