Behind the Betting Lines 1/07/2005

by T.B
Courtesy of SportsInsights.com
1/07/2005 6:25PM EST

Behind The Lines Vol. 19

Well the football gods finally smiled on the sportsbooks.  The college bowl season is one that typically does well for the bookies and this year was no different.  College coaches have long made gripes about the fact their livelihood depends on 18 and 19-year old kids.

The same holds true for betting on college sports.  Sure, a team might look unbeatable but when you’re dealing with kids there is always the chance an upset could occur.  And even if it isn’t an outright upset, these guys may be playing in their last collegiate game, so they come out and play the game of their lives.  A perfect example of this is Cal losing to Texas Tech.

It wasn’t just the colleges, the NFL also played a big part in the December turnaround for the books.  In fact the last five weeks of the season were winners for the books, big winners in some cases.

A term that’s used a lot to determine the health of a particular weekend is hold percentage.  This is the percentage of the win for the book based on their total volume.  For a full year, the books hope to have that number somewhere in the 3-5% range, for football season it should be somewhere in the 6-8% range.   But check out these numbers from one major offshore sportsbook:

-         Week 14 hold percentage of 15%

-         Week 15 hold percentage of  20%

-         Week 17 hold percentage of 24%

Not too bad, and Week 16 fell right under the 8% norm.  But now the NFL’s second season is about to begin and the mood down here in Curacao is one of cautious optimism.  The month of January is off to a good start and a strong showing in the playoffs will end the fiscal quarter for the books on a positive note.  A weak playoffs and there’s no more football left to bail you out.  Plus you’re looking down the barrel of pitchers and catchers reporting in just a few weeks, which is never a good thing.  Let’s take a look at a couple of games:

NY Jets @ San Diego – Sat. 8:00 (ABC)

A real big move has already taken place in this game and I don’t think it’s done moving.  The line opened San Diego -4.5 and it’s already been bet to 6.5.  A couple of places are showing -7 with reduced juice but the bets are coming in at a 75% clip on San Diego.  If you like the Chargers get down now because by kickoff it’s going to be a solid 7 everywhere.

Honestly, I don’t know how you can’t like San Diego as the Jets looked atrocious the tail end of the season and backed their way into the playoffs.  Another number to consider: San Diego was 13-1-2 against the spread this season.  That’s amazing.

Denver @ Indianapolis – Sun. 1:00 (CBS)

This game has blowout written all over it.  Although the betting graphs don’t reflect it, when this game was first posted on the board, the line was only a touchdown.  Proving the oddsmakers are dumb but not stupid, a quick adjustment was made and the line is now Indianapolis -10.

Denver routed the Colts last week in their meaningless season finale, but you still have to be a little wary of Indianapolis’ defense.  A few 9.5’s are starting to pop up out there as some places are basically taking 50-50 action on this one.

Teaser Of The Week

I’ve made some good money riding Indianapolis this year but for some reason their game scares me.  I still think they’ll win but I’m not backing them financially.  I do like the Chargers though.  It took me awhile to come around on this team but I just think the Jets have too much negativity surrounding the team.  This might be Herm Edward’s last game as HC of the NYJ.  We’ll take San Diego down to a Pick.

In the second leg, we’ll go over to the NFC.  St. Louis beat Seattle twice this year.  They may make it three straight, but even if they don’t I can’t see them losing by more than 10.  I think this will be the closest game of the weekend.  So St. Louis up to + 11 is the second leg.  Enjoy the games … T.B.