Using Week 14 Spreads To Find Moneyline Value ... As In Jets-Bills

Hook Slide

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 9:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 9:00 PM UTC

Those NFL point spreads are telling us something. What is it? Might not be what casual bettors think.

One of the fatal mistakes made by the casual bettor is assuming from the outset that he knows more than the sportsbooks do about how to handicap a game. Ask a casual bettor why he likes Team A to beat Team B, and you're likely to hear some very subjective reasons based on very small sample sizes.

"Well, Team A is in a must-win situation, they're going to play with more heart and grit in this game!"

Maybe that's true, but objectively speaking, both teams want to win. "Want" doesn't win games, skill and points do.

"Team B has only rushed for X amount of yards in their last two games, they're not going to score many points!"

Two games' worth of data is basically just random information. It has no predictive power.

When a sportsbook puts those opening spreads out for public consumption, they're putting their livelihood and ability to continue doing business on the line. It's safe to say they've done a great deal of research before deciding on those spreads. They use all sorts of information, in large data sets, to arrive at those figures, including historic offense, defense, officiating, weather impacts, home field advantage, home and road performance, and much more.

Let's just accept right now that we're not going to beat the sportsbooks by knowing more than they do. Instead, let's use their expert knowledge in setting point spreads to see if they've left any extra value on the corresponding moneylines. You don't beat the bookie by outsmarting him, you beat him by exploiting his high-value payouts.

To do this, we convert point spreads to win probability, convert that win probability into a break-even moneyline (the minimum moneyline you would need to break even on the bet), and look for discrepancies between our break-even moneyline and what the sportsbook is actually offering for a moneyline.

No, I'm not going to make you do the math here, I'll just get to the good part and give you a handy reference chart, where the first number is the point spread, and the second number is the minimum moneyline to break even.

I can hear you breathing a sigh of relief from here.

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Spread

Minimum Moneyline

0

+100

-1

-112

-1.5

-118

-2

-125

-2.5

-133

-3

-141

-3.5

-150

-4

-158

-4.5

-168

-5

-178

-6

-200

-7

-225

-7.5

-239

-8

-254

-9

-286

I'm going to stop there because this is where we start getting into territory where betting the moneyline is only paying pennies on the dollar, and you have to decide at that point if you're going to start adjusting your bet sizes.

This chart accommodates underdogs, too, by the way. Just flip the moneyline to a positive, so for example, if the point spread is 2 and the minimum favorite line is -125, the minimum line for the underdog would be +125.

Let's apply this to two games coming up this week. The Titans opened as 4.5 point favorites against the Jaguars, which makes the underdog Jaguars a minimum +168 on the moneyline. They opened at +190 on the moneyline and are currently around +170, likely because smart bettors saw the value in exploiting that +190 line. It's still valuable at +170 because it's above the +168 minimum, but it's less valuable than it was at +190.

The Bills opened as 3.5 point favorites against the Jets, so using our chart above, that means the Jets as underdogs need to be at a minimum moneyline of +150, which makes their current moneyline of +165 valuable.

This a great place to start watching moneylines develop, too, once you've analyzed the point spreads and know what minimum lines to watch for. The Lions opened as 1 point favorites, so we're looking for -112 or better on the moneyline before we pull the trigger. They're currently -125 so it's not a good bet, but it's a line worth watching!

As always, good luck this week, and be sure to check out my other sports analysis and +EV filters on Twitter at @HooksPicks and on Patreon at patreon.com/hookspicks!

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