NFL Win Totals Update: Three Value Bets To Consider
We’re six weeks into the season and there are a few teams that look like they are in a completely different place than they were six months ago. Hello Sean Payton!
On Tuesday’s DFS & Betting Podcast, Betz and I discussed some of the forecasting process while checking in on a few season-long win totals wagers we made.
We placed some early wagers on unders on the Panthers and Patriots which look super strong while we’re sweating out 49ers and Raiders unders.
Schedule-Adjusted Win Projections
Back at the end of March, I went through and looked at all 32 NFL teams and their schedule to assign a win total based on per-game likelihood. In other words, I did not look at the macro-level but game-by-game what could happen based by factoring in historical win rates of divisional matchups, home/away, and a running five-year win rate based on their schedule strength.
These projections were calculated before the DraftKings Sportsbook released their totals in early April and they reflected totals rounded up or down to 0.1-point increments. The actual math and probabilities of each game range from a 25 percent chance to 75 percent as every team in the NFL have some legitimate, mathematical chance of winning a football game. The majority of games fall in the 40-60 percent range with 201 of the 272 games (73.9%) sitting there. You might say that math doesn’t seem very compelling but any type of edge you think you might have against Vegas is silly. You’re having a killer year if you hit 55+ percent of your future predictions.
I updated them before May 1st to give a picture of the final projection I placed before a summer spent on Best Ball and preparing for the Ultimate Draft Kit.
Current DraftKings Lines
Here is where the market currently is on DraftKings as well as the comparison of my schedule-adjusted forecast, the early DK lines, and the Post Draft DK lines. Thus far, the schedule-adjusted win projections are slightly outperforming (0.67) the post-NFL Draft DraftKings lines (0.65)
While there are some flaws to the schedule-adjusted forecasting method I use, the leans on the original lines overall feel solid. There is so much more variance than the public realizes each year within the NFL when you consider injuries, regression, and a change in overall offensive effectiveness. Games are hitting the under across the board and we are feeling the effects in every market. Fewer plays, fewer possessions invite more variance game-to-game in the NFL.
Three Value Bets to Consider
I emphasize the word “value” on these as everything is on a spectrum of probabilities and valuing if the market is not quite adjusted yet.
Buffalo Bills U10.5 (+125)
Current Record: 4-2
This seems like a misprice considering the state of this team. Despite being 4-2, these Bills feel fragile when you factor in how broken the offense looked against the Giants on Sunday night. While their offense is still showing as #2 in Net EPA per nflelo, the defense is getting exposed on the ground allowing 5.4 yards per carry, 2nd highest in the NFL. When we consider unders, we are not trying to forecast doubt but ask the question: what could go wrong?
- Toss Ups: @ CIN, NYJ, @ PHI, @ KC, DAL, @ LAC, @ MIA
- Heavy Favorites: NE (x2), TB, DEN
Going 7-4 over those final 11 games includes taking care of business in all their heavily favorited games which includes two inter-divisional matchups against the Patriots. There are a ton of routes not just on the schedule but also when you look at how thin the depth chart is. LB Matt Milano & DT Daquan Jones being placed on injured reserve are huge losses to this defense. Any injury to core players (Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, or in the secondary) would crush their hopes of hitting 11 wins.
Houston Texans U8.5 (+100)
Current Record: 3-3
I love what the Texans are doing. C.J. Stroud was my guy during the pre-draft process with quite possibly my favorite Rookie Profile article I’ve written on this site. The market has adjusted tremendously with over 8.5 wins now currently showing at -120 (54.5% implied odds). Here is their rest of season schedule:
- Toss Ups: TB, at CIN, JAX, DEN, @ NYJ, @ TEN, vs CLE, TEN, @ IND
- Favorites: @ CAR, ARI
Houston is running hot on 3rd down conversions (44%- 6th highest in NFL) and limiting turnovers while playing at a fairly quick pace (5th in seconds per play). While that can work with a Justin Herbert behind center, there are some holes on the offensive line and lack of effectiveness in the running game that can catch up as the season wears down. The schedule isn’t necessarily intimidating but if you’re willing to bet against this team playing above .500 football the rest of the way (6-5), the under makes a ton of sense at +100.
Philadelphia Eagles O11.5 (-120)
Current Record: 5-1
Ok, I’ll cave and give an over. The Eagles’ loss to the Jets was a rough turn of events over the final two minutes. However, this team had an 84% win probability with the ball at the 2-minute warning. Sitting at 5-1, what would it look like for this team to go 7-4 down the stretch? Remember that they are fighting with the 49ers for that coveted No. 1 seed in the playoffs and a first round bye. Unlike last year when they were able to rest their starters down the stretch, this schedule will be a fight. The rest of their schedule looks like:
- Toss Ups: MIA, @ WAS, DAL (x2), @ KC, BUF, SF, @ SEA
- Heavy Favorites: NYG (x2), ARI
Those eight “toss up” games are brutal but going 4-4 is more than doable when you consider how they’ve handled Dallas recently and their advantage at home. Since the beginning of 2022, Hurts is 9-1 at home. I wouldn’t take anything more than -120 but it’s a fair price considering what this team did last year (14-3).