The 2017 Pro Bowl kicks off this Sunday at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. After three years where teams were drafted by former NFL stars, the league announced that it would return to the conference format which had been used for the previous 42 years. The rosters were announced on December 20, with Jason Garrett coaching the NFC team and Andy Reid coaching the AFC team.
On Thursday afternoon, the NFC opened as 5-point favorites at 5Dimes, with the total listed at 74. Since 2004, the underdog has gone 10-3 against the spread (ATS) and 7-5 straight up (SU) in the Pro Bowl. Interestingly, no Pro Bowl spread has ever exceeded 5.5, but the NFC moved from -5 to -5.5 in early action.
Bookmaker, one of the market-setting offshore sportsbooks, posted their Pro Bowl line the following day with some major discrepancies. Although 5Dimes had listed the over/under at 74.5, Bookmaker opened their total 8-points higher at 82.5. They also listed the NFC as a smaller favorite, opening at -4.
The table below displays the performance of underdogs over the past 13 Pro Bowls.
|Year||Underdog||Favorite||Underdog Score||Favorite Score||Odds||Result|
|2016||Team Rice||Team Irvin||27||49||2.5||L|
|2015||Team Irvin||Team Carter||32||28||2.5||W|
|2014||Team Sanders||Team Rice||21||22||1.5||W|
In terms of the total, the over has gone 7-6 since 2004 including four consecutive overs prior to the format change. Bettors always love taking overs, but that’s especially true for the Pro Bowl. There’s only been one instance in which the majority of bettors took the under, and that happened in 2008 when only 43% of bettors took the over. That was largely influenced by three consecutive Pro Bowls going under the closing total.
The table below displays the Pro Bowl total trends over the past 13 seasons.
|Year||Home Team||Visitor Team||Home Score||Visitor Score||Points Scored||Odds||Result|
|2016||Team Rice||Team Irvin||27||49||76||74.5||Over|
|2015||Team Irvin||Team Carter||32||28||60||68.5||Under|
|2014||Team Sanders||Team Rice||21||22||43||89||Under|
Historically there have been two main schools of thought for Pro Bowl bettors: take the underdog on the moneyline and pound the over. The reasoning is simple enough — neither team plays defense which leads to high-scoring games and unpredictability. This erratic scoring disproportionately favors the underdog since bettors would be receiving plus money. Our research confirms that has been an effective strategy.
The average closing total was 65.4 under the conference format and 77.3 under the fantasy draft format. Oddsmakers steadily increasing their Pro Bowl totals, and I would expect that this total will continue to climb as the inevitable influx of public money takes the over. If you’re interested in taking the over, it’s probably best to act now. If you’re interested in taking the under, it’s probably better to wait until the number is artificially inflated.
These numbers are subject to change before kickoff, so bettors should be sure to visit our free NFL odds page for the latest lines, injuries, public betting trends and more.
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