NFL Picks: Buccaneers the Best Value on the Board

Jason Lake

Sunday, October 5, 2014 3:21 PM UTC

Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014 3:21 PM UTC

Can we interest you in a gently pre-owned pirate ship? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only double-digit dogs on the Week 5 NFL odds board, and they’re matched up against the faltering New Orleans Saints.

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

Profit: minus-5.6 units


What do people mean when they say they’re making a “value pick” against the NFL odds? It’s a bit of a catch-all term. Maybe they’ve got a pick where the line’s moved onto or away from one of the key magic numbers. Maybe they’ve got an underdog that’s getting more points than the NFL betting marketplace is used to handling. Or maybe they’re just not very good with using their word-hole.

We resemble that remark sometimes. But for the purposes of this column (and when we do our Five Stars to estimate our profit margin and come up with a bet size), we’re using the concept of “value” in reference to the betting lines themselves, and not the football teams in question. So it could be about magic numbers, or extreme point spreads, or even how much juice you have to pay at one book compared to another. Conveniently enough, we’ve got all three of those covered with this week’s top betting value: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Six Percent for Nothing
You might remember the Buccaneers from that unintentionally hilarious episode of Thursday Night Football, when they lost 56-14 to the Atlanta Falcons (–6.5 at home) in Week 3. Or you might have fond memories of their Week 4 resurrection, when they switched quarterbacks from Josh McCown to Mike Glennon and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (–7.5 at home) 27-24. The Bucs are getting even more points this week; the New Orleans Saints were 10.5-point home faves on the NFL odds board as we went to press, virtually unchanged from the open.

This is a lot of points. About half of all NFL regular season games over the past 20 years were decided by single digits, and another six percent were decided by exactly 10 points. So if you didn’t know anything about the two teams in question, you could guess there’s a 56-percent chance that Tampa Bay will cover Sunday afternoon’s matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX). Obviously betting on football isn’t that simple, but it’s a starting point.

That six percent makes all the difference, and it speaks to the power of the magic number 10. This is the third most common margin of victory in the NFL, behind three points (15 percent) and seven points (eight percent), so anytime you see a betting line at +10.5, dollar signs should light up inside your eyeballs. Or euro signs, or yuan, or giant stones from the Isle of Yap – whatever currency your online sportsbook accepts.

Consumer Reports
Of course, if you can get even more points than that, you’re going to get more betting value. The books compete with each other for your business; there are 30 of them on our odds board, where you can see their NFL lines side-by-side and do some comparison shopping. The trick is to make sure you’re not paying too big a price for those extra points. For example, if you have a choice between Tampa Bay +10.5 at the standard –110 vigorish, and Tampa Bay +11 (–115), that’s almost exactly the same cost, according to the fair prices at Wizard of Odds.

There are situations like this where the underdog just isn’t a good enough team to realize its betting value, but according to our methodology, this is not one of those situations – the Saints are overvalued and injured and not performing well at all. It’s a battle of two teams at 1-3 SU and ATS, and we’re taking the value NFL pick.

The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: NO
Defense/Special Teams: TB
Coaching: NO
Market Bias: TB
Betting Line Value: TB

Verdict: 1-star pick on TB

Free NFL Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Buccaneers +10.5 (–108) at Heritage

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