NFL betting, odds: Six takeaways from another wild season
As the Kansas City Chiefs punched their ticket to Super Bowl LVII, my mind started to race through the matchup. Can Haason Reddick get to Patrick Mahomes? Can anybody cover Travis Kelce? Lane Johnson versus Chris Jones. I watched the Chiefs celebrate in their oversized T-shirts while Andy Reid collected another AFC championship trophy. I could tell they were playing up to the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium, but I didn't hear a word that came out of anyone's mouth. It was all just background noise, even after I pumped the breaks on mentally sizing up both teams.
That's because I took a deep breath and came to grips with the reality of what the day after Championship Sunday meant. As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, my mind is heading to Arizona. As a sports bettor, I am heading to the finish line of another NFL season. Because there is no game to break down this weekend, and there will likely be minimal line movement, let's take some time to reflect on some of the things we learned over the past five months. After all, those sleepless nights of trying to figure out if Russ would ever cook again or if the market is adjusting properly for Tom Brady's personal life has to be for something. So here are some of my fun takeaways from the 2022 season.
CLV wins again
We might joke during the season and post pictures of dumpster fires when a great bet loses, but beating the closing number is the only way to make it close to a fair fight. It's not a coincidence that I have a positive ROI in the games with closing line value and a negative one when I'm on the wrong side of the market. Without CLV, you are Kyle Shanahan with Josh Johnson against the Eagles' defense.
Rebuilding coaches are more than just good futures targets
Looking back at the most profitable teams is always fun. The New York Giants (14-5 ATS) and Detroit Lions (12-5 ATS) top the list as the only teams that covered more than 70% of the time. So what do they have in common? First, they are both led by up-and-coming coaches who are pulling their teams into relevancy. But another key factor is that they are doing it with unassuming quarterbacks. We know how the position drives the betting market, and it makes sense there would be value in a team led by a lower-profile quarterback as opposed to when Jacksonville saw success with Trevor Lawrence. It's a scenario worth keeping an eye on next season, so you can identify any teams that might fit the mold early.
The postseason truly is a second season
Don't let the recency bias impact how you bet a team in the postseason. I learned this hard lesson last year after losing money every round of the playoffs by fading the Rams, but I didn't fall for the same trap when I saw the Eagles following the same path. Philadelphia looked rough in December, dropped a few games with Jalen Hurts injured and was underwhelming in his return against the Giants. Yet, it didn't matter one bit once the second season started. Philadelphia gave bettors two rocking-chair covers, outscoring their opponents 69-14. Also, after playing their worst game of the season in a Week 18 loss to Washington, the Cowboys followed it up by dominating Tampa Bay in the wild-card round. The playoffs are a whole different game; as bettors, we must treat it as such.
Don't lose your money overvaluing veteran quarterbacks on the decline
I'm not just talking about Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were the kings of false promises this season. The two combined for a brutal 5-12-1 ATS record in the first half of the season and were even worse bets as favorites (3-11-1 ATS). But, to his credit, Rodgers righted the ship and made bettors just enough money in December to fool Packers backers into buying futures tickets for them to make the playoffs and even the Super Bowl. Then in this final act, he let them down one last time by losing at home to the Detroit Lions. However, he was still better than Brady, who was dreadful from start to finish. Rodgers and Brady will likely get a lot of hype if they head into next year wearing different uniforms, but remember what you saw this season and, more importantly, how it impacted your bankroll.
The scoring never came
After unders hit at a 59% rate through the first half of the season, and we knew adjustments were coming from the books. But would they be coming from the offenses as well? Bettors chalked up the lower-scoring games to everything from new coaches to defensive shifts in philosophy. Still, those who expected the offenses to figure it out on the fly this season were left empty-handed, as the league's scoring average consistently stayed flat at 22 points per game. Whether teams can solve the puzzle in the offseason is anybody's guess, but this year taught us not to assume positive scoring regression is on its way.
Nothing gets fixed over the bye week
Almost every season, when teams are coming off bye weeks, you will hear they had time to clean up some stuff and fix their issues. As if there will be intense work implementing schematic overhauls during the team's only week off. It's great for teams to get rest, but the benefits usually end there. This season, four teams (Seattle, Tampa Bay, Buffalo and the L.A. Rams) failed to cover for five consecutive games after their bye weeks. Buffalo's situation is slightly different because they were big favorites while Josh Allen played through injury, but the other teams had major concerns that remained throughout the year. The bye week is beneficial, but don't overvalue it or expect a different team to come out the other side.