Almost everyone loves to bet.
You might not travel to Las Vegas or Dover or one of the other myriad of betting locations across the country, but most people have placed a wager on a sporting event at one time in their life. If you've followed my posts over the time I've been here on BTB, you'll know very well that I pay a little attention to the spreads, over unders and money lines associated with each week's slate of football action.
To me, it adds an extra layer of intrigue to contests that otherwise I might only have a passing interest in. Being able to correctly predict if the favored team would be able to win by a pre-determined, calculated amount can be pretty entertaining.
The fun thing is that Vegas does a tremendous job setting the spreads. They have professional sharps that incorporate trends, injuries and everything else you could think of to determining how much a team should win by. By the time they incorporate a new season's data (around Week 5 or so), it's pretty uncanny how often they pick a point spread in a game, just to have it straddle that number down to a final, late score or defensive stop.
Notice how I said around Week 5. Spreads over the first quarter of the season normally have a tough time catching up with teams that have either made "the leap" or will fail miserably compared to where they were expected. Remember how every Philadelphia Eagles fan walked around with their nose high, looking down on the rest of the NFC East entering the 2011 season? Well Vegas agreed with them, and then saw them come out of the gate at a 3-8 clip.
A lot of people assumed the Eagles would bounce right back in 2012, including Vegas. They ended up going 3-12-1 against the spread last season. Suffice to say, if you knew the Eagles were going to "underachieve" last year, you stood to make a lot of money!
Circling back to our beloved Cowboys, Vegas doesn't see good things in store for the team in 2013. Not accounting for improvements, backsliding, or injury situations, the oddsmakers don't think Dallas will end up over .500 by the end of the year. In fact, they don't even think Dallas makes it back to that level. Here's a look at the game-by-game odds for the Cowboys in the coming season.
If you're unfamiliar with spreads, a negative amount (ex: -2.5) means that Vegas thinks taking away 2.5 points from the Cowboys will make it an even contest. If you were to subtract 2.5 points from the Cowboys' final point total and think they'd still win, then you would bet Cowboys -2.5 and "give" the points. If you felt that Dallas' opponent would either win the game outright or with the added 2.5 points, than you would bet their Opponent +2.5 and "take" the points.
Spreads are subject to change.
|1||9/8 830p||NY Giants||-2.5|
|2||9/15 1pm||@ Kansas City||-1.5|
|3||9/22 1pm||St. Louis||-4.5|
|4||9/29 4:25pm||@ San Diego||+1|
|7||10/20 1pm||@ Philadelphia||Pick|
|8||10/27 1pm||@ Detroit||+1|
|10||11/10||@ New Orleans||+4|
|12||11/24 4:25pm||@ NY Giants||+2.5|
|15||12/15 4:25pm||Green Bay||+1|
|16||12/22 1pm||@ Washington||+2.5|
For a complete look at all the early odds for NFL 2013, visit here.
Quick ATS notes: Vegas accounts for playing at home with a built-in 3 point spread. So if a team is at home and favored by less than three points, that means Vegas thinks the road team is a better club. A Pick'Em means that the teams are considered evenly matched. While team ability plays a large part in determining spreads, so does the better trends on each team. Vegas' goal is to have an equal amount of money bet on each opponent. This way, they break even on paying out "winners" and then collect all of the vigs (the amount taken out of each bet that is pure profit for the books).
The Cowboys ended up 6-10 against the spread last season. Looking back at the odds before things got underway in 2012, Dallas ended up 7-8 (Week 17 odds aren't set in the preseason). Vegas had predicted they would go 6-9 over that stretch. They predict 6-8-1 for Dallas in 2013, with another tough December stretch for the club.
So what do you think? Are the sharps in Vegas onto something or full of something else?