NFL Marketwatch Week 21 2008-09

NFL Week 21 – Early Moves Super Bowl Edition
1/28/2009 11:01 AM EST
by Daniel Fabrizio

Welcome to this week’s edition  of the Sports MarketWatch, where Daniel Fabrizio, founder of, gives sports fans unprecedented insight into the NFL point-spread market. If you ever wanted to know what was really happening on the sportsbook side, you now have an all-access pass with Sports MarketWatch!

Every week he speaks directly with the line managers at some of the sports betting industry’s largest sportsbooks about which games the public is chasing and the Sharps are pounding. Dan takes a look at what’s in store for this week in the NFL.

Sports MarketWatch – NFL Playoffs

Recapping Regular Season

Christmas started early in NFL Week 15 and 16, but the party ended for the sportsbooks in NFL Week 17.  All sportsbooks reported flat profits in Week 17 with most sportsbooks losing anywhere between 0%-2% of their handle. analysis shows that in games with over 64% of the action on one side, the Public came out on top, going 5-2 — making the Public 57-75 = 43.2% for the season. Games to Watch analysis stumbled in the last week going 0-1, making it 26-22-2 = 54.2% for the season.  Not bad for a free weekly column; imagine the money you’d have won by using our Premium Pro membership!  If you have enjoyed the insights this column provides, please be sure to visit and sign up for a Premium Pro Membership. Your bankroll will thank you!

2005 Games to Watch: 33-25 = 56.9%

2006 Games to Watch: 31-18 = 63.3%

2007 Games to Watch: 25-19 = 56.8%

2008 Games to Watch: 26-22 = 54.2%

Special Thanks

I’d like to thank the line managers at our contributing sportsbooks for taking the time to speak with me every week, allowing unprecedented access to their line boards and minds.  It’s been an education in itself. I’d also like to thank the loyal readers of Sports Marketwatch.  Your encouragement and support made this weekly column a joy to produce. I hope the Sports Marketwatch has shown readers the importance of line value – while helping them to another profitable NFL Season.  Visit to view Live Betting Statistics coming from the line boards of multiple sportsbooks.

College Basketball – Produces More Plays + Higher Win %

This weekly column is designed to highlight the revolutionary sports betting information found on As much fun as football is to bet and watch, college basketball has been our most CONSISTENT and PROFITABLE sport.  Basketball produces mores plays and a higher win percentage. Take your winnings from this year’s NFL Sports Marketwatch and purchase a Premium Pro membership at today. Your bankroll will thank you!

NCAA Basketball Records Units Won (multiply the Units Won by your average bet size to see how much you’d win)
Steam Plays (Spread) 56-37   (60%)  +16.3  (*$50 better is up 16.3 x $50 = +$815)
Steam Plays  (O/U) 153-94 (61%)  +41.9  (*$50 better is up 41.9 x $50 = +$2075)
Smart Money Plays (Spread) 18-10   (64%)  +7.5    (*$50 better is up 7.5 x $50 = +$375)

NFL Playoffs – Games to Watch   (1-2 = 33.3%)

The NFL Playoffs are a totally different animal than the NFL Regular season. The amount of “Public” square bets skyrockets.  The culmination of this trend is the Super Bowl, the most wagered sporting event of the year. Everyone, and their mother, wagers on the Super Bowl. From the casual “box-office-pool” – to the professional sports bettor – to the Superbowl commercials: everyone has some interest in the Superbowl.

For value-minded sports investors, this massive influx of “Public” money means opportunity. During the NFL Playoffs, odds makers heavily weigh Public opinion when deciding on a game’s betting line. They’ll shade a line 2-3 pts knowing that the Public will be heavily on one side. “Public Money” dwarfs the amount of “Sharp Money” buying back the shaded lines. and Superbowl XLIII

Contrarian Sports Investing (“SIs”) believes in a contrarian approach to sports investing and seeks out value in the sports marketplace. One of the key parameters to SportsInsights’ quantitative approach to sports betting is our proprietary sports betting percentages, compiled from several online sportsbooks. The betting percentages tell us the percentage of bets on each side of a bet. Our research has shown that it normally pays to “fade” the public or “bet against the Public.”

The Public typically likes taking the favorite in most sports events. However, this year’s Superbowl shows the Public loving the Arizona Cardinals and their Cinderella march to the Superbowl. This is an interesting departure for the Public and shows how much “value” there might be on the Steelers. This contrarian factor of “fading” the Public points to the Steelers.

Edge: Pittsburgh Steelers

Current Betting Percentages on the Super Bowl

Pittsburg Steelers 42%

Arizona Cardinals 58%

Smart Money and Point Spread Line Movement

SportsInsights uses another indicator that we call “Smart Money Analysis.” This method is more selective but also more powerful because historically, it has had a better winning percentage than using “betting percentages” as a standalone indicator.

For the Superbowl, the “generally-available” line opened at Pittsburgh -6.5. As we saw above, early Superbowl betting has most of the bets (about 60%) coming in on the underdog Arizona Cardinals. Even with the majority of bets landing on Arizona, the line has inched up to Pittsburgh -7. This is a relatively large move in the NFL – especially near a “key number” like 7.

This means that “big money” – which is usually “smart money” – is taking the Steelers. In other words, even though most bettors are on Arizona, “big bets” on Pittsburgh are more than balancing the Public’s action on Arizona. This indicator says to go along with the “smart money” and take Pittsburgh.

Edge: Pittsburgh Steelers  -6.5 (

Intangibles and Other Contrarian Angles

In addition to our “quant” or “technical” analysis of the sports marketplace (based on “betting percentages” and “line movement”), SportsInsights tries to analyze games using some approaches that resemble “fundamental analysis” in the financial markets.

For example, are there some extraneous factors that make a bet seem over-valued or under-valued? We try to “buy low and sell high” by using a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?” factor. That is, the Public tends to exaggerate the importance of recent events.

Arizona’s offense has been pounding the opposition. After being one of the highest-scoring teams during the regular season, Kurt Warner and crew have rung up more than 30 points in each of their playoff match-ups. Warner and his receivers look like they are playing pick-up football against a bunch of five-year-olds! The Public loves offense and this is another reason we feel that Arizona is currently over-valued. We’ll “sell” the Cardinals at a recent “high.”

During the early part of the regular season, the media focused on teams like Tennessee and both NY teams as “Superbowl favorites.” Later in the season, fans saw teams like the Eagles, the Chargers, and the Colts streak into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers played “steady football” all season long and “quietly” (if you can call their defense quiet!) ran up a 12-4 record, yielding a league-low 223 points.

Some of the intangibles point to “selling” the Cardinals at a “high” and “buying” a great Steelers team that avoided being over-hyped.

Edge: Pittsburgh Steelers  -6.5 (

Quick Analysis of Recent Superbowl Scores

SportsInsights’ analysts took a quick peek at recent Superbowl scores.

• 3 out of the last 5 Superbowls were settled by a FG or less.

• 4 out of the last 7 Superbowls were settled by a FG or less.

• 6 out the last 11 Superbowls were settled by a TD or less.

We normally hate giving 7 points or more (or even taking a favorite!). However, we let the numbers do the talking. And, yet again, the recent history of Superbowls (and an emphasis on shorter-term events) might be giving us some value. Over the much larger sample size of 42 Superbowl games:

• 29 out of 42 games have been settled by more than a TD.

Football fans seem to be forgetting how we used to see lopsided (and sadly, sometimes boring) Superbowls. This is giving us some value as the general Public is taking the points in this Superbowl.

Edge: Pittsburgh Steelers  -6.5 (


SportsInsights looks for value in a variety of ways. For more information about’s philosophy on sports investing, please visit our articles on Sports Investing and Value. For live odds and SIs’ exclusive “betting percentages” on major U.S. sporting events, please visit

Almost all of our regular angles and analysis of the “sports marketplace” point to contrarian value on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Remember to shop for the best line” because you can still get Pittsburgh -6.5 if you check around. Does defense win Championships? We’ll see in a few days.

Games to Watch – Playoff Editions  (1-2 = 33.3%)   

Pittsburgh Steelers  -6.5 (

It should be another exciting NFL Super Bowl.  Keep Sports MarketWatch picks handy and your browser pointed to for the latest real-time updates, using our exclusive Sports Investing tools.  I’ll be back next NFL Season with an all new edition of the Sports MarketWatch.

Enjoy the games!

Daniel Fabrizio