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Updated: Vegas Futures Wins Totals

Some background links:

Today I want to look at the latest odds from Vegas on NFL futures, this time courtesy of Bovada.  While we often focus on the number of wins a team is projected to have, the payouts associated with each bet are also key sources of information. Consider the Bears and the Panthers, two teams Bovada has pegged at 8.5 wins. You might think Chicago projects as a better team than Carolina this year; as it turns out, so does Bovada.

If you want to bet on Chicago winning more than 8.5 games this year, Bovada is requiring you bet $155 just to win $100 in the event the Bears win nine games. Of course, if you’re brave enough to suggest that the Bears will win eight or fewer games, Bovada would pay you $125 for your $100 bet. While Chicago is at -155(o)/+125(u), the Panthers are at +145(o), -175(u). So if you think the Panthers are overvalued at 8.5 wins, well, you need to bet $175 on the under just to win $100 if Carolina falls short of that number. On the other hand, Bovada would pay you $145 if you want to take the Panthers winning nine or more games.

Based on those numbers, we can conclude that Vegas thinks Chicago has a 58.2% chance of going over 8.5 wins1, while Carolina has just a 38.6% chance of going over 8.5 wins.2 The table below shows the number of projected wins for each team in the NFL this year, along with the lines associated with their over and under bets. The final column shows the implied likelihood (by the over/under lines) of the team going over their win total; that column was used to break ties between teams with the same number of projected wins.

RkTeamWinsOvr LineUnd LineOver %
1Denver Broncos11.5-105-1250.478
2New England Patriots11-1401100.554
3Seattle Seahawks11-115-1150.5
4New Orleans Saints10.5-125-1050.522
5tGreen Bay Packers10.5-115-1150.5
5tSan Francisco 49ers10.5-115-1150.5
7Indianapolis Colts9.5-125-1050.522
8Philadelphia Eagles9-1401100.554
9Cincinnati Bengals9-105-1250.478
10Chicago Bears8.5-1551250.582
11Pittsburgh Steelers8.5-1401100.554
12Baltimore Ravens8.5-1301000.533
13Detroit Lions8.5-105-1250.478
14Atlanta Falcons8.5105-1350.457
15Carolina Panthers8.5145-1750.386
16San Diego Chargers8-1501200.573
17New York Giants8-125-1050.522
18Kansas City Chiefs8110-1400.446
19Arizona Cardinals7.5-1551250.582
20tHouston Texans7.5-1501200.573
20tSt. Louis Rams7.5-1501200.573
22Washington Redskins7.5-125-1050.522
23Miami Dolphins7.5-105-1250.478
24Dallas Cowboys7.5145-1750.386
25New York Jets7-1501200.573
26Tampa Bay Buccaneers7-1401100.554
27Tennessee Titans7-105-1250.478
28Buffalo Bills6.5-1651350.599
29Cleveland Browns6.5-1351050.543
30Minnesota Vikings6-1551250.582
31Oakland Raiders5-1401100.554
32Jacksonville Jaguars5-1301000.533

Some thoughts:

  • Denver is projected to have the most wins this year, but that doesn’t mean Vegas thinks the Broncos are the best team in the NFL.  Denver has the highest average points spread in their games, too, but after adjusting for strength of schedule, the Seahawks come out as the top team in Vegas’ ratings.
  • How weak is the AFC? The Patriots are second based these rankings, again in part because of the easy schedule. After New England, 5 of the next 6 teams reside in the NFC.  The lone AFC team in that group is Indianapolis, also boosted by playing in the worst division in the NFL.
  • It appears that Bovada is not very high on either Carolina or Dallas, but is hesitant to lower their projected win totals. Carolina is projected to win 8.5 games, Dallas 7.5, but both have under lines of -175 and over lines of +145.
  • The Bills check in as the opposite of Carolina/Dallas. Buffalo’s win total is stuck at just 6.5 wins, but if you want to bet the over on Buffalo, you have to put up $165 just to win $100.
  • The general rule is the public loves to bet overs; as a result, for 28 of the teams, you have to pay a premium to bet the over. In addition to Carolina and Dallas, the two other teams where a $100 bet on the over gets you more than $100 are Atlanta and Kansas City.  The Chiefs are not too surprising: like Carolina (and perhaps Dallas), I can understand why Vegas would feel the need to entice folks to bet the over. Atlanta doesn’t seem to fit that mold, but then again, the Falcons win total is already pretty high at 8.5.
  • When Warren looked at DVOA ratings vs. projected wins, Houston stuck out as unjustifiably high with 8.5 wins; well, the Texans are now down to 7.5 wins. Arizona and St. Louis were teams that DVOA thought should have higher win totals, but Cantor had those teams at 7 and 6.5 wins, respectively. Well, both teams are now up to 7.5 wins.
  • Carolina (3.5), Kansas City (3), and Arizona (2.5) are the only teams projected to fall more than two wins shy of their 2013 wins total. On the other side, Houston (5.5), Atlanta (4.5), Washington (4.5), Tampa Bay (3), and Cleveland (2.5) are already projected for at least 2.5 more wins this year.
  • For some reason, I can’t find too many sites that have posted recent power rankings. But I did find PFT’s 2014 Power Rankings, and I thought it might serve as a gut check of what Vegas thinks versus the mainstream media. The team Vegas is the lowest on is Arizona (11th in PFT, 19th here), followed by Cleveland (22nd, 29th), and the Jets (19th, 25th). The teams Vegas is highest on (or PFT is lowest on)? Miami (31st in PFT’s rankings, 23rd by Bovada), Detroit (21st, 13th), and Philadelphia (13th, 8th).
  1. The -155 implies a 60.8% chance of going over 8.5 wins (155/255), while the +125 on the under implies a 55.5% chance of going over 8.5 wins (1 – [100/225]).  The average of 0.555 and 0.608 is .582. []
  2. An over line of +145 implies a 40.8% chance of going over (100/245), while an under of -175 implies just a 36.4% chance of going over (1 – [175/275] []
  • Jason Winter

    I literally just flew in from Vegas, and grabbed a futures sheet from the Paris sports book about 7 hours ago. It only has whole-number odds and lets you bet over, under, or exactly. Every win total is no more than half a game different from the ones you quote here.

    Also, speaking to a fellow Vikings fan at one of the sports books, he’s convinced Minnesota will do better than 6 wins enough to put money on them. I tend to agree, and that’s not just homerism talking. I knew they were overrated after being 10-6 in 2012.

  • roger

    There are 256 games in a season and the projected wins total 262.5. For you under lovers.

    • Chase Stuart

      Yep. And you also have to pay some juice just to bet most of the overs!

    • Nate

      The line on the Rams in particular seems bizarre: they’re an average/below average NFL team, and they’re facing one of the tougher schedules in the league. How do they break even on wins?

  • prowrestlingisstrong

    This is the first year I have not bet on an NFL future in awhile. I have no clue how the newillegal contact and holding emphasis is going to affect games this season. I like betting on things with minimal variables and if this preseason is any indication the new rules will introduce a whole lot of different variables.

    Ill be sticking with college futures this year.

  • Sunrise089

    There are a few issues with your second bullet point (weak AFC) Chase. First the 7 of 8 line is incorrect – you seem to be missing the Bengals. 5 of 6 works though. Second the general point seems a little arbitrary-endpoint-y to me (‘seven of eight after the first two’). One could be silly and point out two of the top three teams are from the AFC, but more notably 6 of the top 12 are AFC teams.

    Also, do we have enough information to determine what the payout would be for an under if 8 for Carolina instead? I know half points matter a lot, but at -175 I’m curious if the half point change would swing all the way to a +1XX line…

    • Chase Stuart

      Good catch, thanks. And yes, it’s an example of using multiple endpoints, but I think it’s okay here because the AFC really isn’t any good :). If Arizona was in the AFCN or AFCS, they might be the division favorite.

  • Dalton Del Don

    When it comes to the juice on Over/Unders, it doesn’t really reflect Vegas’ opinion on the line but rather how much is being bet on each side.

    • James

      And that juice is influenced by the accuracy of those original lines.

      • Dalton Del Don

        In a way yes, but don’t give the public too much credit. (Of course, some “sharp” could make a large bet as well).

  • Nick Bradley

    Cool. If you adjusted expected wins for the money coming in, you’d arrive at a ‘market price’ for expected wins. Based on that, bettors think New England will get the most wins. I presume that’s because its gambling season and all the suckers from Boston are putting down homer money. Any * my goodness, look at the Panthers! Adjusted list is below. Two things I find interesting:

    1. NFC is both better on average and more equal — coefficient of variation for NFC is 18% with 8.7 mean wins, AFC CV is 22% is 8.3 mean wins.

    2. Clear breaks in each conference after top 6 teams. 1.2 game gap between 6-seed bears and 7-seed Cardinals — 0.5 game gap between 6-seed Ravens and 7-seed Bengals.

    Conf Team Seed
    NFC Seattle Seahawks 1
    NFC New Orleans Saints 2
    NFC Green Bay Packers 3
    NFC Philadelphia Eagles 4
    NFC San Francisco 49ers 5
    NFC Chicago Bears 6
    AFC New England Patriots 1
    AFC Denver Broncos 2
    AFC Indianapolis Colts 3
    AFC Pittsburgh Steelers 4
    AFC San Diego Chargers 5
    AFC Baltimore Ravens 6

    conf Team Adj Wins
    AFC New England Patriots 12.2
    NFC Seattle Seahawks 11.0
    AFC Denver Broncos 11.0
    NFC New Orleans Saints 11.0
    NFC Green Bay Packers 10.5
    NFC San Francisco 49ers 10.5
    NFC Philadelphia Eagles 10.0
    AFC Indianapolis Colts 9.9
    NFC Chicago Bears 9.9
    AFC Pittsburgh Steelers 9.4
    AFC San Diego Chargers 9.2
    AFC Baltimore Ravens 9.1
    NFC Arizona Cardinals 8.7
    AFC Cincinnati Bengals 8.6
    AFC Houston Texans 8.6
    NFC St. Louis Rams 8.6
    NFC New York Giants 8.4
    NFC Detroit Lions 8.1
    AFC New York Jets 8.0
    NFC Washington Redskins 7.8
    AFC Buffalo Bills 7.8
    NFC Atlanta Falcons 7.8
    NFC Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7.8
    AFC Miami Dolphins 7.2
    AFC Kansas City Chiefs 7.1
    AFC Cleveland Browns 7.1
    NFC Minnesota Vikings 7.0
    AFC Tennessee Titans 6.7
    NFC Carolina Panthers 6.6
    NFC Dallas Cowboys 5.8
    AFC Oakland Raiders 5.5
    AFC Jacksonville Jaguars 5.3

  • Ken

    Suffice to say more than half of these teams won’t make these juicy win totals.
    The only pick I would consider is Minnesota. They have way too much talent on offense to have a 6-win season. 7 first-round picks in the past 3 years, a HOF RB, and no one is giving them a bit of credit for a huge upgrade in their coaching staff.
    6 wins is really the worst-case scenario.