Sunday, November 4, 2007

New England's Unprecedented Run

The Pats may have won on Sunday to keep their hopes of an undefeated season alive, but their more impressive streak ended. In the first eight weeks of the season, New England was favored by an average of 11 points, ranging from 5 to 16.5. They covered each of these spreads, by an average of 14.5 points (adding those two together, their average margin of victory was an astounding 25.5 points). Against the Colts, they were favored by between 4.5 and 6.5 points at various sites, and only won by four, ending their streak.

So they're now 9-0, and 8-1 against the spread. From 2000-2006, nine teams won at least eight of their first nine games. Here's how the did against the spread, and how they did the rest of the season.

The '03 Chiefs are the only team that got off to a similar start, and they finished relatively poorly. But these really aren't comparable situations; if you look at that team, they weren't favored by more than 10 points in any of their first nine games. The Steelers did very well aganst the spread in '04, and had a great second half. Again, they're really not comparable, as that team wasn't favored by more than six points sin any of those games.

The problem with trying to find a comparison is that there isn't one. The Pats have been getting an unprecedented amount of respect from Vegas; Sunday's line gave them credit for being nine points better than the NFL's second best team, which is hard to comprehend. They will probably be about even money to go undefeated when those odds are updated later this week, and I'm not sure that I would bet against that at this point.


  1. How much of this is "respect" of a quality team, and how much is having a large, loyal fan base who is willing to put money down seemingly no matter what the spread is?

    (BTW, love the blog.)

  2. I have been wondering the same thing. I was going to write more about this tonight, but I think part of it may have been that people kept betting on them every week and winning, and then increasing their bets for the next week. So you get people betting a lot more than usual, and pretty much all of that money is going on the Pats. So maybe Vegas anticipated that for the Colts game, and that's why the line was as high as it was.

    It's also interesting that I didn't see that line change the whole week, so if this did have an effect, the linesmakers anticipated it ahead of time.

    I wonder how much of an effect a "large, loyal fan base" actually has- are the guys that are going to the game every Sunday really betting large amounts on these games? I think your average fan/gambler looking at it as a can't lose situation and betting accordingly probably has more of an effect, but that's just a guess.

    Also: the Pats are just really good.

  3. You have to go another league to get a decent comparison. The 95-96 Chicago Bulls also killed the spread.

  4. That's an interesting point. If anyone knows where to find data on that, please let me know. Because I certainly have no idea.