Tuesday, September 17, 2013

VFV's Adventures in Predicting NFL Line Movement With Darts (Week 2)

There is no shame in not being able to predict NFL line movement, There is plenty of shame, however, in pretending you can in a weekly column for ESPN.com (all my lines from Pinny):

Jets (+11) at Patriots (Thursday): By the time the Cowboys-Giants game ended Sunday night, the LVH was holding the line at 11, but the Wynn was at 12.5 and the William Hill chain was at 13 (and most offshores at those numbers as well). I expect this line to keep climbing but not go any higher than 13.

Line closed at Pats -10.5 -109 at Pinny.

Chargers (+6.5) at Eagles: This line was Philly minus-6.5 last week, re-opened 6.5 and looks solid (though obviously could be impacted by either team's performance Monday night). 

Way off, wrong side of 7, including these games pre-MNF is pointless, especially early in the season.

Browns (+6.5) at Ravens: This also looks solid at Ravens minus-6.5. It might have gone lower if the Browns hadn't lost 23-10 to the Dolphins as 2.5-point closing favorites, but they did.

-5.5 -109.

Dolphins (+3) at Colts: This is a solid minus-3 for the Colts at even money. This isn't likely to move to either 2.5 or 3.5 all week, so lay the lowest odds you can on the side you like.

"Isn't likely to move off 3" -> closes at IND -1 -113, good try, good effort.

Panthers (-3) at Bills: Similar situation here with the Panthers minus-3, even, on the road. Both teams played well in losing efforts to elite teams. This is more likely to dip to 2.5 than rise to 3.5[...]

Rose to -3.5 -101.

Rams (+6.5) at Falcons: This opened Falcons minus-6 or -6.5 most places here and offshore, but we saw movement toward a touchdown, so chalk players should lay it before it gets to 7, while dog bettors should wait.

Line closed at -4 -104. Can't make this shit up, folks.

Redskins (+6) at Packers: This looks like a pretty solid Packers minus-6, though William Hill made it -6.5. This could move a little depending on how the Redskins look Monday night.

Way off, wrong side of 7, including these games pre-MNF is pointless, especially early in the season.

Cowboys (+1) at Chiefs: This was pick-em a week ago, but the LVH upgraded the Chiefs to minus-1 after their blowout win at Jacksonville. After the Cowboys' win Sunday night, Kornegay said he thought he might raise it to minus-1.5 or -2 if Dez Bryant is out (he was injured late in the game).

Dez Bryant ended up playing (quite well, actually). Didn't stop the line from closing at -3 -117.

Vikings (+6.5) at Bears: This looks like a fairly solid Bears minus-6.5 with William Hill and some offshores at minus-6, so I'd expect it to dip instead of rising to a full TD.

Closed at -6 -108, so nailed it I guess?

Saints (-3) at Buccaneers: If you like the Saints, you'd better lay the minus-3 before it's gone. Late Sunday night, several books were already at minus-3 (with -120 attached to it) while the Wynn was already at minus-3.5. With the way the Bucs lost to the Jets and the Saints holding off the Falcons, this is almost certain not to stay at a field goal.

Stayed at a field goal (-3 -114).

Jaguars (+5.5) at Raiders: The LVH countered by going even higher at Raiders minus-5.5, but all of the early money has been coming in on the Raiders and pushing it to minus-6. It's going to be hard for bookies to find anyone willing to back the Jags, so it wouldn't be surprising to see this keep climbing.

Closed -3.5 -110 at Pinny, I guess they found someone willing to back the Jags?

Broncos (-4) at Giants: [D]on't be surprised to see this number drift higher, especially since William Hill already made it minus-4.5 before the Giants' game. This should be the case of "bet the favorite early if you like it/bet the underdog late." 

Highest line at Pinny was the opener, line closed at -3.5 +102, I guess this wasn't very good advice?

49ers (+3) at Seahawks: In Week 2's other marquee matchup, this one on Sunday night, this number has been Seahawks minus-3, has continued to be minus-3, and while I think the juice will be adjusted (and some books have shaded it toward minus-3, -120 on the Seahawks), I don't think any book will go off the key number.

Steelers (+6.5) at Bengals (Monday): As discussed above, this has been the biggest movement from the advance line. Normally I'd say that this can't be adjusted any further, especially since the Steelers have been a far more public team than the Bengals, but there are already indications that this could be moving to a full TD. That's how ugly the Steelers really looked. If the Bengals had held on to beat the Bears, we'd probably already be there.

Kind of nailed FNIA and MNF, I guess?



  1. Typically I agree with you but I suspect this one is harsh. Pinny is a sharp book while he is talking about Vegas line movements (which is more square action). At least compare to Bovada if you're going to use online. I have a hard time believing Oakland got to -3.5. I know many books ended with the Saints at -3.5.

    1. I suspect that would make him look better, but only marginally so. A lot of these are really, really far off. Panthers still closed at 3.5 at Bovada, Rams at +6 -115, Chiefs at -3, Jags at +4.5, Giants at +4.5 -115. It does make get him closer on Miami and New Orleans. If I write about this again, I'll look at Bovada lines as well, although it really seems like that is being overly generous to him.

      Also, if ~99%(?) of your readership is betting offshore, it does not seem especially helpful to be giving "advice" regarding a market they cannot access.

    2. I've always wondered this... you guys (Cville) are obviously "right" about this. But why would you possibly want to wise up the people that read the Millmans, VFV, RJ, Todd, etc and trust them as gospel? We know they're wrong (or, charitably, massively over-simplifying things) but why not keep this knowledge as a secret? What is the possible upside And to a casual observer it just appears as jealousy that they're getting paid to write crap on mainstream outlets.

      Also, people evolve. It wasn't THAT long ago that some of us thought we could get rich betting purely opposite the public.

      I mean no disrespect, I've learned a ton from this site and the usual suspects on Twitter, RMMB back in the day, elsewhere... just always wondered. We get it, they're retards... why continue on?

  2. R2B2...that's the sharpest thing I've read this week (and something I've wrestled with often, but maybe I do see it as God's work -- love that label from Vegas Watch, though maybe he's referring to himself???). Anyway...

    I would give myself a D+ from Week 1. I usually do much better and was seriously surprised by some of the moves, but while I won't go as far as ASG in calling it "harsh," I would say it was a little "mean-spirited" (not sure if that sounds better or worse). Again, I digress...

    Unlike a lot of people in the media and just in general life that toss around predictions without any accountability when they're wrong, I'm open to (constructive) criticism. The goal here is to all get better at this activity we all love and learning from our mistakes. But I will address the following points:

    * I won't use the Vegas vs. Offshore argument as an excuse because I'm fully aware that the vast majority of my audience is not in Vegas (and it's been that way since I started covering Vegas in 1998 for GamingToday and then Daily Racing Form). But it can certainly be misleading to just grade me against the closing number at Pinnacle. While I agree that I was wrong about the Dolphins-Colts line moving off 3, to say the line closed at -1 when we all know Pinnacle goes directly from 3 to 1 with heavy juice to discourage teaser action is not fair. It was 2.5 at every other book that doesn't copy off Pinny. Note: I did LOL at the "good try, good effort" line...nicely done!!!!

    * The point about the futility of discussing the teams playing Monday night is well-taken (and heightened by the fact there were 4 of those that first Monday night instead of the normal 2), and I'll certainly choose my wording better moving forward. But if form has held, those lines with the Eagles and Redskins games wouldn't have moved to the other side of 7 (besides, those weren't me predicting the lines would be 6.5 and 6, those were the numbers available at the time, plus I did put the caveat that they could change depending on what happened on MNF).

    * Judging just against the closing lines is also unfair. For instance, you make a point of how wrong I was on the Jets-Patriots line since it closed at Pinny -10.5 -109 (equivalent of -11), but the fact is I predicted it would go as high as 13 and that's exactly what it did before then dropping. Anyone looking to take the Jets and waited and grabbed the +13 certainly weren't complaining. Same thing with Saints-Bucs: except for saying to lay 3 with Saints because it wouldn't last, the line did indeed go to 3.5 everywhere and just because it then got bet down to 3 doesn't make my prediction wrong. I was right that it didn't stay at a field goal and people could take the Bucs +3.5.

    As you alluded to in your opening, this isn't easy to do, but I'm trying to educate people on understand the real betting market (something that has been devoid of in the mainstream media but I'm hoping to help knock down those barriers). So while I can take the jabs when I'm clearly wrong, at least give me some leeway with the ebbs and flows of the market and not just the closing number (and especially one not skewed with heavy juice).

    Good luck this weekend (and every weekend).

    1. Here is the part I have trouble getting past, Dave: what process are you using to guess at these line moves? It's certainly LOL funny when the results are putrid, but the lack of actual analysis is what is truly laughable (and I'd like to think most people who read this post agree with me).

      I don't know how you can "educate people on understanding the real betting market" when you feed them "analysis" based on what appears to the trained observer to be "making shit up".

    2. Kunk - Tuesday Shart Meeting.

    3. Lou...I've never been to the "Tuesday Group" meeting...besides, this column is written late Sunday night and posted early Sunday morning. It would be much easier if given the luxury to wait until Tuesday.

      Kunk..."putrid" now...I thought I upgraded it somewhat...anyway, it's mostly looking at where the lines move and where the early money moves them (usually offshore and Vegas moving toward each other, if they both move same direction that usually a good indication it ain't moving back until it peaks). I'll also look at the "Pinny lean" to see which way they're making bettors lay extra juice. There's also some speculation about what the public is likely to do later in the week when more of them get involved. I guess some people would want me to go on and on about everything I'm factoring into my guess, but instead of a 4,000 word article I think most prefer me to try and capsulize each game in a few short sentences.

      Just like anything else, if I'm correct on these people will just nod and move on, but if I'm wrong (and I can't wait to see the comments on the Vikings-Browns line move after the trading away of Trent Richardson, something no one saw coming) then it's an easy target.

      Again, sometimes when I'm "wrong" I don't mind at all...when the Cowboys-Chiefs line went to 3 (and note I wasn't predicting the line would move to Chiefs -1.5 or -2 as much as just quoting Jay Kornegay) and Dez Bryant was going to play, I felt a lot better about my pick on the Cowboys. Same thing with the Chargers when the Eagles' were over-adjusted from that 6.5 to 7.5. Didn't work as well with the Redskins vs. the Packers, but you can't win 'em all :)

    4. CORRECTION: first line should read "posted early Monday morning."

    5. I could write a long response to this, but it basically boils down to the fact that, IMO, the information you have is only useful to report what has happened/what the lines currently are. Then you are also predicting where the line will move/close, which would certainly be valuable info, but I still haven't seen any reason you would actually be able to do this with any accuracy.

      You can be an "expert" on the former without knowing anything about the latter. Being a Vegas Reporter is entirely reasonable, of course. But it's also entirely different than being an analyst, and knowing where the line should/will end up.

  3. Kunk-

    What should he do then? Just not write the column? It's positive EV (easy money, zero risk) for him to do so, I can guarantee that. Regardless, why, the fuck not, WHAT IS THE HARM? If it makes the less square among the betting populace (i.e. the 99%) think this is how shit's done, do the more sophisticated, not benefit? If you shame these guys into smartening up, we smarten up our competition for good numbers... and, for what?

    Read my above comment as well (it's similar), I'd love your thoughts.

    OK, we get it, CVille (which I've been following and loving and being educated by since the Tucker Max days) is sharper than 99% of the printed material out there. What's the point of wasting space on tearing down less sophisticated analysis?

    In poker, they say don't tap the glass. In a world where good numbers and outs can evaporate so fucking quickly... what is your guy's mission for tearing down the easiest of targets?

    Anyone who knows what they're doing, knows all of what you're saying already... why take a chance on those who don't?

    Proving your smarter than the Millmans and RJ Bells pays $0, proving your smarter than the books pays a lot, as we all know.

    Also, a truly sharp column would be dull as dishwater to read and would never get published (at least not on ESPN, even Insider). So for all of your knowledge about sports betting (which is more than mine) it is severely lacking in understanding how media works.

    But honestly, as a lurker, I've learned a lot from you guys and respect the fuck out of you... tell me what I'm missing in these arguments?

    1. I hear you and your argument makes sense in a vacuum, but I think we all know we are not very likely to change anyone's approach to writing about sports betting (and definitely won't be affecting the betting populace).

      What is not up for argument is that these pieces are just fun as hell to tear apart. It's our inside joke. To the outside world, it looks like "blogging with an unearned smug sense of superiority." Or "yearning to be significant." Or whatever else.

      It was a surprise that VFV cared enough to read and respond. First time for everything. But based on his responses, I don't think he'll be changing his ways. Our little corner of the internet is safe.

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