Thursday, August 09, 2007

Indianapolis Colts Season Win Total

Last week, I made a few regular season win total bets in Las Vegas. One of them was taking the Under on the Indianapolis Colts. I made three bets that I thought had value.

Indianapolis expected wins: 10.28
Fair value: Under 10.5 -117
Wagers I made in Las Vegas: Under 10.5 EVEN, +105, +110, +115

Note 1: this seems to be a trendy pick. Pinny currently (August 9 morning) has Under 10.5 at -106.
Note 2: the line in the first game against the Saints at Pinny is Colts -6. Since I like bet both the Saints Under and the Colts Under, it means I have little rooting interest in this game (assuming I bet the same amount). It is only 1 out of 15 games, but I like the fact that the two bets hedge each other slightly. Individual game expectations (opponent, IND win probability, IND point spread)

NO 69% -6
at TEN 64% -4
at HOU 65.5% -4.5
DEN 64.5% -4.5
TB 81% -10.5
at JAX 50.5% Pick
at CAR 55.5% -2.5
NE 51.5% -1
at SD 40% +3
KC 74% -7.5
at ATL 62.5% -3.5
JAX 66.5% -5
at BAL 49% +1
at OAK 72.5% -7
HOU 81.5% -10.5
TEN 80% -10

Game 1 against the Saints is easy to estimate since there are already lines on that game. The games against SD and NE are interesting since it is a clash of the three best teams in the NFL. I have the Colts just slightly below the Chargers (I would have the Chargers higher if not for the question marks about a completely new coaching staff), thus a 3 point dog in SD. I have NE better than both the Chargers and the Colts, thus NE is only a 1 point dog in IND. Playing those two games in back-to-back weeks will be interesting.

The last three games are also interesting. I have the Colts as significant favorites at Oakland, and against Houston and Tennessee. Being that far away, the line could be very different by the time Week 15 comes around. Aside from that uncertainty, there is also the uncertainty of how much the Colts will need those games. If they are well ahead in the division, say they are 10-4 before the Houston game, it is possible the last two games mean nothing to them. For example, say JAX is only 7-7 and the Colts have the division wrapped up, and say both NE and SD are 12-2 and have tiebreaker advantage over IND, so the Colts cannot get a bye in the playoffs. While their talent may indicate they should be 10 point favorites against HOU and TEN, their situation may dictate a lower line if they do not need to win either game. Therefore, possibly this gives the Under 10.5 bet a slight advantage. Also, it may mean that the normal approximate of 50 cents for a half-win in regular season totals is not as applicable to the Colts case. A Under 11 bet seems more valuable than a typical half-win. I have read other people picking Under 11, unfortunately I did not see any sportsbooks using that line in Las Vegas.

Other notes not in the Colts' favor:
The Colts won the Super Bowl last year. Although they played well on defense in the playoffs, there are still a lot of question marks due to their defensive performance in the regular season. In addition, they lost some quality players on defense in the offseason, both to free agency (especially LB June) and injuries (DT McFarland). On offense, they are expected to be solid especially with Peyton Manning at QB. However, they did lose their left tackle (Tarik Glenn) due to retirement. Offensive linemen are often underappreciated. We never see them on a stat sheet and rarely see their good plays on replays. Most often, we only see them if they missed a block or committed a penalty. It is easier to pick out the bad ones if we constantly see the same player play poorly, but when an offensive lineman is playing well, fans rarely notice. The replacement may do a good job, but likely, he will not do as good a job as Glenn has done over the years.

The Colts have been at the top of the NFL for a few years. This means they have had high number draft picks (drafting late in each round) and thus they probably have less depth than other teams to replace the missing holes due to free agency, retirement and injury.

Being a Super Bowl champion and a Division winner, the Colts do not have an easy schedule. The two other division winners they face are New England and San Diego. Two teams many would rate higher than the Colts at this point.

The Colts are still a large favorite to win their division (I estimate about 66%, which is the third highest). Taking them to win Under 10.5 games does not mean I think they are a bad team, simply it means I think the number is slightly too high. Taking Under in teams with high win totals is usually the better way to go, and IND is a prime example.