NFL in May: It’s about win totals.
When Jay Kornegay and the LVH opened their numbers, they accepted $3,000 per bet (welcoming the professional players).
LVH opened Green Bay at 10 wins. The Packers benefit from perhaps the best quarterback in the league – which is certainly football-sexy (adding to the average bettor’s love for this pedigreed team), but the Pack are clearly limited elsewhere.
Two-time SuperContest winner Steve Fezzik told me GB’s win total without Rodgers would be 6. They do have Rodgers, but the pros are leaning under double digit wins.
Packers UNDER 10. Atlantis (Reno) opened the first NFL win totals in the world, accepting $500 per bet. Such modest limits are intended for public action rather than professional. This public number expected Green Bay to win 12 games.
Falcons UNDER 10. Finished 13-3 last season while only outgaining opponents by less than 60 yards on the entire season. Almost even yards on the season makes the case for an 8-8 team. With only 16 regular season games, the pros strongly consider the stats beneath the scores – and the stats do not support Atlanta optimism.
Texans UNDER 10. Keep in mind, win totals are not directly correlated to a team’s power ranking. Vegas could think a team with a lower win total is better than another team with a higher total based on other factors such as toughness of schedule. As last season’s division winner, Houston plays the Patriots and Ravens; they play Denver, and against the NFC they play 49ers and Seattle. Make sure to consider a team’s opponents before betting team totals.
Jets OVER 6½. Sometimes a team can be so overrated, the resulting backlash actually leads to the same team becoming underrated (a phenomenon aided by the New York media market in the age of the 24-hour news cycle). Think about this team not with a goal of winning the Super Bowl, but simply trying to win 7 games. Even without Revis, the Jets are a good defense team that should be able to run the ball, benefiting from an above average coach. Sounds like the classic recipe for 8-8 and an over cash.
Chiefs OVER 7½. Kansas City was -24 in turnovers last season – tied for the worst in the NFL. Nothing dictates wins and losses in the NFL like turnovers – and to a significant degree, turnovers are random (meaning they tend to even out in the longrun). KC had six Pro Bowlers last season. Scott Speitzer, a long-time Vegas handicapper, gave out this opinion for free on the “First Preview” radio show – making the key point that quarterback play dominates the modern NFL.
There’s little doubt Alex Smith is an upgrade at QB. Plus Andy Reid is an upgrade at coach; in fact, many in Vegas considered Romeo Crennel to be the worst coach in the NFL last season. All factors point to a significant improvement.
Dolphins OVER 7½. This number opened at 6½ – the biggest move so far. It’s important to understand how much lopsided action is required to move an NFL win total a full game. Beyond the Mike Wallace splash, the pros consider Miami’s schedule favorable and expect improvement from their second year QB.
Seattle has received the most Super Bowl future action so far. Not that long ago, Seattle was available at 18-1, before being bet all the way down to 8-1, the clear fourth favorite even though, based on win totals, they are not projected to win their division.
Some readers may be tempted by Colts OVER 8½. (Colin Cowherd certainly was when I was on his show last week). Keep in mind that is a fair number for a slightly above average team (only 10 teams currently have a win total greater than 8½).
Even though the Colts were an impressive 11-5 last season, digging deeper into the numbers tells a different story. Indy was outscored by an eye-popping 30 points net on the season. And for all his hype and potential, Andrew Luck was the 26th ranked QB.
RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Monday through Friday at 10 am on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. Discussion of this article continues at Pregame.com. Contact RJ at [email protected]