God’s Tid-Bets, Vol. 12
Joe Duffy (www.godspicks.com)
Listen to the Oddsmakers
When I first got into the handicapping business years ago, I was a knowledge sponge. I’d seek out advice from tested, proven, battle-scarred high rollers. One nugget that applied decades ago and still does in the modern offshore line era is “the oddsmakers often tell you something”. We’ve discussed numerous examples of using the oddsmakers’ knowledge against them. A huge case in point is when a team has a long winless or undefeated streak and the posted line contradicts the donut. There have been three screaming examples this year of as Oscar Dooley likes to say “there has got to be a reason why”, two in consecutive days. Despite having the nation’s longest road losing streak at 24, Baylor was a road favorite. That would qualify as a major proclamation by the line chefs. Were you listening? Baylor wins by five and covers.
Michigan ranked No. 25 in the nation was a three-point road favorite to Northwestern ranked No. 21 at the time. They destroyed the higher ranked home dogs 33-17. It is very rare a lower ranked team is ever a road favorite to a higher ranked team, much less a field goal. Another statement by the books and we were all ears. Our worst non-pick of the year was the next day when the Houston Texans, the NFL’s last winless team was a favorite to Cleveland. They win and cover. We learned from our huge mistake. Bad handicappers whine how their losers were “right plays”. Good handicappers consider loses valuable lessons.
The big exception is teams as a favorite trying to snap a huge series slide, especially in college sports. We’ve discussed numerous times about teams having mental whammies over their foes and that supersedes the above theory. But an overwhelming majority of the time the oddsmakers tell you a drought or prosperity will end, chances are the almost always small favorite will cover.
To paraphrase an old commercial, when the oddsmakers talk, wiseguys listen.
Upside Down You Turn Me
Two magic buzzwords in handicapping are “upside” and “downside”. The deeper a team goes into the season, the more the odds are based on their performance to date. Teams that have underachieved are generally good spread teams for the remainder of the year. On the other hand, underachieving teams are by and large great fades. However this is merely a part of square one in handicapping and far from a lead pipe rule. In our popular essay, “It is Good to Pick Bad” we discuss how the public has a lot more comfort betting on good teams rather than poor teams. In addition to the reasons discussed in that article, simply put a team with a .800 winning percentage has a lot more downside; while a team with a .200 winning percentage has the upside. Again one must analyze each team individually, but these are very good rules of thumb.
As an example I am a big fan of running games in the NFL. I believe it sets up the pass more than visa versa, though the other is true. Furthermore a running game keeps the defense off the field. There is no question Jamal Lewis is a much better running back than he’s shown this year. Baltimore’s running game would be a perfect example of an upside.
Duffy’s plays are part of the Dream Team at Godspicks.com. He is perhaps the most published and respected author on sports gambling theory and has been featured as a regular guest as the handicapping expert on the Rick Ballou Show on Sporting News Radio, Gamblers Zoo national radio show, the Meat and Potatoes gambling show, Pro Fantasy Sports Internet radio and Grogan’s Fantasy Football show. Today’s free winner, news, notes, articles, sportsbook bonuses and more are at http://betonsports.blogspot.com
God’s Tid-Bets, Vol. 12