Free NFL Pick on the Total for Vikings vs. Packers Week 5

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 2, 2014 2:08 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 2:08 PM UTC

In theory, there’s a 50/50 chance we’ll see Teddy Bridgewater suit up for the Minnesota Vikings Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers. Does it make a difference to the NFL totals? Or does the 100-percent chance of rain matter more?

Jason’s Record After Week 4: 12-14 ATS, 5-4-1 Totals

Profit: minus-5.6 units


If you were leading an army into battle, you wouldn’t want to let people know which soldiers you were bringing. You’d probably be even more ticked off if you had to give out estimates for which soldiers might show up. That’s the official NFL injury reports for you – lousy if you’re a head coach, but somewhat useful if you’re betting on football, which is why they exist.

Useful, that is, if the coach doesn’t turn the tables and use the injury reports to his advantage. New England Patriots head honcho and noted smart guy Bill Belichick loves to do this, fudging his reports to the extent of the NFL law. Now the Minnesota Vikings, as expected, have officially listed QB Teddy Bridgewater as “questionable” to start Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers. What does this even mean? And how should we respond when we bet on the Week 5 NFL totals?


50 Equals 62
Let’s start with the NFL’s own definition of the injury report categories:

Out: Not scheduled to play

Doubtful: Players have approximately a 25-percent chance of playing

Questionable: Players have approximately a 50-percent chance of playing

Probable: Players are very likely to start in the upcoming week

You’ll also find some interpretations of “probable” that say those players have a 75-percent chance of suiting up. In real life, however, the players who end up on the injury report play more often than these numbers would suggest. Anthony Zonfrelli at Harvard Sports Analysis Collective looked at the 2012 season and found that “doubtful” came out to 27 percent, “questionable” 62 percent and “probable” 89 percent. Good to know.

As for this specific instance, it’s unlikely that the Vikings doctors looked at Bridgewater and said he’s 50/50 for Thursday night (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS). There are two much more plausible scenarios: either the Vikings have no clue whether Bridgewater will start against Green Bay, or they do know and they’re not telling. Because why would they want to?


Oh, I Like It Runny
Now let’s shift our attention to a different kind of probability: the probability of precipitation over Green Bay on Thursday. The weather report calls for a 100-percent chance of rain, possibly more than an inch of it, with winds gusting up to 20mph. Summer is over, folks. People have been paying attention, too: Thursday’s total opened at 50.5 points, but as we go to press, it’s been bet all the way down to 47.5.

This might seem strange given that our consensus numbers show 61 percent support for the 'over'. But that’s 61 percent of bettors, not 61 percent of the money, and it’s the money that moves the line. There appears to have been a nice Monday afternoon run on the 'under', and if the totals are still going down, that must have been quite a lot of money to shift the NFL lines that far.

We’d normally expect the betting public to keep hammering the 'over' with their smaller bets, but the weather situation in Green Bay is hard to ignore – it was supposed to rain almost all the way from Wednesday to Saturday. And while the public tends to overreact and pound the 'under' in any inclement weather, rain and wind are indeed the things that make football really difficult, not snow or cold temperatures unless they get extreme. It’ll be very interesting to see how this total moves on the NFL odds before kick-off; jumping in right now before it gets any lower might be a good idea for your NFL picks.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on 'Under' 48 (–107) at 5Dimes

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