LVH Enters the NFL Season Win Game and Knows You’re a Square

On Sunday, LVH released their 2014 NFL Season Wins, and soon made their way to the internet via Joe Fortenbaugh.  It is always fascinating to see where sharp linemakers view the teams.  In addition, we also can compare these to previously released numbers from other sports books.  Below, I compare LVH’s new numbers to those posted at South Point.  South Point released theirs back in March, but have been updating them since.  Below is the most recent numbers at the time of LVH’s release.

There are some very interesting results comparing the two numbers:

First, as you should know, with 32 teams playing 16 games, there is the opportunity for there to be 256 “wins” on the season.  When South Point posted their openers back in March, as luck would have it, there were exactly 256 wins divided amongst the 32 teams.  However, currently, there are now 260 wins!  That means between the teams, bettors have driven up the totals by 4 full wins.  While this might not seem like a lot, consider the fact that the linemakers will first play with the juice, and as a last resort, will adjust the season win total. LVH opened their numbers with a total wins of 258 between the 32 teams, yet again obviously more than humanly possible.

But if the total wins being high wasn’t enough, take a look at the juice.  Both books are dealing 20 cent lines, so -110 on the over AND the under is equal juice on both sides of the number.  Naturally, some overs should be larger than -110 (i.e -120, -130, etc) and some under should be -120, -130 and so forth.  But South Point has just 6 overs receiving +100 or better.  And on average, at South Point, overs are -122 with unders +102.  At LVH, there are also only 6 overs lined at +100 or better, and the average over is -121 with overs +101.

The combination of win totals being set above 256 total “wins” plus overs being juiced above -120 on average shows these books know that even if they are setting silly numbers, bettors will STILL bet the over.  As witnessed by South Point opening with 256 wins and now moving up to 260, with overs still being juiced -122.  In other words, you can bet under 260 wins (a certainty) and get +102 to do so.  They know the exposure to those under bets exists, but they know you won’t take them up on it, because they know you are a (most likely) a square.

The next fun exercise is discussing differences in opinion between the two books.  The two largest differences are the Houston Texans and the Minnesota Vikings, where books are laying a full 1 point difference.  South Point has Houston at 8.5 Under -145, while LVH has Houston at 7.5 Over -145.  South Point has the Minnesota Vikings at 7 Under -145 while LVH has them at 6 Over +105.

There are smaller 1/2 game differences on 12 other teams, which can be seen from the below graphic.  If you are going to get down on any of these in Vegas, there are some clear edges to either the LVH or South Point, depending on what you want to bet.  So be sure to study the info closely and shop around.  You will likely find yourself making a trip to the South Point and then driving north to LVH and betting at both shops.

Real Formula for a Cowboys Super Bowl: O-Line, not Manziel

The Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones was asked why they decided to select Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin instead of fan favorite Johnny Manziel.  His reply was:

“..there’s no doubt in my mind, we made the very best decision we could for the Cowboys in terms of what is going to help us get to a Super Bowl the soonest.”

So in the Cowboys’ opinion, they just need to protect their quarterback better and they’ll be in a Super Bowl.  (Note that I found it interesting his goal was to “get to a Super Bowl”, not to “win a Super Bowl”)

Clearly, it was the offense that let the Cowboys down in 2013.  Ignore the fact that they ranked 11th in total offensive efficiency, 10th passing and 5th rushing.  Ignore the fact that their offensive line ranked 10th in pass protection efficiency.  Clearly, it was the fault of the offense.  But not the quarterback (because they don’t need Manziel), just the fault of the rest of the offense.

OK, Stephen, we believe you.  But to order to believe Stephen, we must really ignore the fact that the Cowboy’s defense ranked 30th in the league in overall efficiency, including 27th in pass defense and 28th in rush defense.

The question is not “Quarterback or Offensive Line?”  The question is “Offense or Defense?”  And the answer is “DEFENSE!”

Below is a table listing out every team to make the Super Bowl since the Cowboys won it in 1995.  At the bottom are the averages.

The average Super Bowl champion had a defense ranked 9th, and the average NFC participant was similarly ranked 9th in total defensive efficiency.  Top 10 is a far cry from the Dallas Cowboy’s 30th ranking of 2013.  The lowest rated NFC participant was the 2008 Arizona Cardinals, and they were 21st overall.

The bottom line is, you don’t have to have a top 3 overall defense to win it all (even though 13 of the 39 participants were top 3) but you can’t be horrible.  The Cowboys already have a marginal top 10 offense.  They ranked:

  • 2nd in offensive yds/point
  • 3rd in offensive EDSR
  • 5th in offensive 30 & In TD %
  • 5th in offensive rushing efficiency
  • 5th in offensive red zone efficiency
  • 10th in offensive pass protection efficiency

But they lost their best defensive player (DeMarcus Ware) in free agency and also lost Jason Hatcher.  Defensively, they ranked:

  • 32nd in defensive EDSR (a down-efficiency metric, which essentially means they allowed far too large gains on 1st and 2nd down)
  • 32nd in defensive red zone efficiency
  • 30th in overall defensive efficiency
  • 29th in defensive30 & In TD %
  • 28th in defensive rushing efficiency
  • 27th in defensive passing efficiency
  • 24th in defensive yds/pass attempt

What they needed was defensive line and secondary help.  To get to (an perhaps win, if they care about that too) a Super Bowl, the Cowboys need a stronger defense.  Of course, to realize that you need have watched the team in 2013 and/or looked at basis statistics.  But someone like the team’s COO couldn’t possibly understand such fundamental football issues.  The defense last year was just fine, thank you very much.  It’s the offense that needs the help, right Stephen?

Just ignore decades of Super Bowl history.

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Passing League Sets League Record

For the first time in NFL Draft history, 9 defensive backs were selected in the first round.  The NFL is officially a passing league, and many teams are taking college safeties to turn into nickel backs and multi-dimensional players to allow the defense to be multiple and adapt to 3rd receivers, tight ends and no-huddle run offenses.

Back in the 70s and 80s, this was a running back league.  As you can see from the below chart, the average was 5 first round running backs from 1970 thru 1990.  But that number started to tail off, and now has completely disappeared.

The past two drafts, zero first round picks were used on running backs.  Just examine the trendlines in the below graphic.  First round DBs are on the increase, while first round RBs are going the way of the dodo bird.

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