Lake’s been destroying the NFL betting lines – the pointspreads and moneylines,
that is. Let’s see what he can do with the total for Thursday night’s matchup
between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.
Jason’s record on NFL picks
for 2012, up to December 3:
10-4 ML (+7.82 units)
If you want to be successful at something, you need a special sauce.
Some handicappers have computer systems and algorithms. I’ve got Moneyball. All my football betting
decisions are based on finding inefficiencies in the betting market, using
advanced stats and value-based strategies as my sword and shield. It works.
Check out those numbers in italics.
Yeah, but what about those totals? My special sauce hasn’t been working
on them. It could be variance or the small sample size, but I’ve been thinking
about it and looking at my work, and it seems to me I need to rebuild my
Blowing the Bell Curve
Let’s start with a fundamental value consideration. The distribution of
both totals and final combined scores follows (more or less) a bell curve. It’s
not a smooth curve because most scoring in football happens in bunches of three
or seven. Nonetheless, the closer you get to the extreme ends of the curve, the
more inefficiency you’ll find. Taking the OVER on low totals and the UNDER on
high totals should be de rigueur for
So where does 49.5 fall on this bell curve? That’s the total the Week 14
NFL lines have given us for Thursday
Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET, NFLN). It’s a little bit on the high side,
but not much. Something around 30 percent of NFL games from the past 10 seasons
ended with a combined score of 50 points or more. You can bump that up given
the increase in scoring.
I get a lot of mileage out of comparing efficiency stats to conventional
stats and power rankings, which is a quick and dirty way of comparing truth to
perception in the marketplace. This has been working great when it’s Team A
versus Team B, not so great when it’s Teams A and B versus the total.
But maybe I’m just not looking at the charts efficiently enough. How
about I start from scratch; let’s take the points scored and allowed for both
the Broncos (OVER 8-4) and the Raiders (UNDER 7-5), and compare those figures
to their respective offensive and defensive efficiency rankings going into Week
Denver Scoring: 29.1 points per game (No. 3), 20.3 points
allowed (No. 9)
Denver Efficiency: No. 3 offense, No. 5 defense
Oakland Scoring: 19.6 points per game (No. 23), 31.3 points
allowed (No. 32)
Oakland Efficiency: No. 25 offense, No. 31 defense
Not much difference there between scoring and efficiency. Of course,
defense and special teams also play a role in putting points on the board, but
hey, this is all educated guesswork.
What we can glean from those numbers is that the Broncos are likely to
score more than 29.1 points given Oakland’s defense, and that the Raiders are
likely to score fewer than 19.6 points given Denver’s defense. These two events
don’t occur separately in a vacuum, though, so who knows.
Weather-wise, we have a forecast of partly cloudy skies over Oakland
with temperatures in the high 50s, so that’s no particular impediment to either
team. We do have their Week 4 result to consider, when the Broncos won 37-6 to
cash in the UNDER on a total of 47. That score fits the scenario I just laid
out in the previous paragraph. The total’s even higher now. Might as well dial
up another UNDER, especially with our European friends at bwin adding an extra rouge.
Take UNDER 50.5 at bwin