Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Orleans Saints Regular Season Win Total

I went to Las Vegas this weekend and made some NFL futures bets. Most of my bets were on regular season win totals (RSW for short). Because the sportsbooks make tighter markets in those wagers (30 cent lines) than other futures, it makes sense that positive EV in RSW totals are easier to find. Over the next few days, I’ll post a few bets I made with explanations. I’ll also post these at SharpSportsBetting.com. Please visit the thread at this link to comment or read comments.

I made six different Under bets on the New Orleans Saints. I took them Under 9 and Under 9.5 (see prices below). Included are the individual game expectations that I used to arrive at the fair value prices and expected wins.

New Orleans expected wins: 8.77
Fair value: Under 9 –124, Under 9.5 –181

Wagers I made in Las Vegas:
Under 9 +115, +115, +110, +125
Under 9.5 –120, -135

Note 1: sadly, Pinny has Under 9 +131, but I can’t bet there. Arg. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter that much. In the current atmosphere, I wouldn’t play any long-term futures at any offshore book. FWIW, I've always felt Pinny was the best at individual game markets since they had an active tight market. But I often found value on relative-value plays and futures there. So I am not concerned that their line seems off, like I would be if it was an individual game where they get lots of two-way volume.
Note 2: the line in the first game against the Colts at Pinny is Colts -6

Individual game expectations (opponent, NO win probability, NO pointspread)
at IND 30.5% +6
at TB 53.5% -2.5
TEN 68.5% -6.5
CAR 60% -3
at SEA 43% +3
ATL 67% -5.5
at SF 50.5% Pick’em
JAX 55% -2.5
STL 67% -5.5
at HOU 54% -2.5
at CAR 44% +2.5
TB 69.5% -6.5
at ATL 51% -1.5
ARI 69% -6.5
PHI 56.5% -3
at CHI 38% +3.5

I think the market overestimates New Orleans. In particular, I think bettors will be thrilled to bet the Over, and the sportsbooks are aware of that so they are happy to take my Under bets. The main reason I think the market (made up of mostly squares) overestimates New Orleans is that they have a flashy offense. They have two big names at the skill position: Brees and Bush. Bush is a really exciting player. They throw the ball a lot, and fans love that. The Saints offense is flashy, thrilling, exciting and fun football to watch. But their rushing offense and defense concerns me: the Saints rushed for 3.7 yards per carry, only 25th in the NFL. The Saints defense had a tough time stopping the run, allowing 4.9 yards per carry, tied for 2nd worst in the NFL.

Another issue against the Saints is that they had a relatively easy schedule in 2006. They only won 3 games in 2005 and were able to play the designated 4th place teams from other divisions, including: GB (won 34-27) and SF (won 34-10). GB and SF were both improved in 2006 as well, but they were still only middle-of-the-pack teams and not division leaders. So the Saints did receive a little help in the schedule. They won the division in 2006, and now they get the brunt of the schedule in 2007. They have to play division winners from 2006 in PHI and CHI. The Saints may get some luck in that they play at CHI in the last game of the year. The Bears are a big favorite to win their division, so it is slightly more likely that the last game of the year won’t mean anything to them, and thus they may be playing the second-string players, allowing NO to have an easier game. But a lot of things can happen. It could turn out CHI needs that game for a Bye in the first round of the playoffs. Or maybe the Saints are 9-6 going into the game and have the division clinched, and maybe they are the ones playing the second-string.

In summary: Betting the Under in RSW bets when the total is over 8 is better than betting the Over. Flashy offenses are usually more overrated teams, and defenses are less appreciated (good or bad). The Saints have a flashy offense and a mediocre defense. The projections of the lines during the season lead to Under 9 and Under 9.5 looking like they have value.