Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So Las Vegas is running away with the Colts?

So, shortly after the NFC Championship game finished up in New Orleans, I heard reports that the Colts had been selected by Vegas as the favorite in SB44. I was mildly surprised. I would have expected them to go the other way. It would appear that a lot of gamblers jumped on the Colts' ship immediately, because the point-spread increased 2 points.

Let me give you a wise piece of betting advice. Take the Saints and the points. You can't go wrong. Either the Saints will win out-right, or the Colts won't cover the spread. Either way, you win money.

Why is Vegas making his mistake? Maybe they are not making a mistake. The system of favorites and point spread is designed to attract roughly equal quantities of money to both sides of the equation. In this way, the house always wins. It is not important for Vegas to correctly pick the winner. It is important for Vegas to manipulate the numbers to maximize profits. Vegas wasn't built on winners. Vegas was built on loosers. If they lead you to believe that the Colts will win when they are about to lose, Vegas wins.

If you think the Colts are going to scarper off easily with the title, your on drugs. If all goes according to plan, this is going to be an ultra-shootout. The last team to hold the football wins. The common logic says that these are two offensive juggernaughts. But are they really both offensive juggernauts? Let me tell you a few things you might not know.

1. The Saints are #1 in the NFL in total yardage with 403.8 yards per game.
2. The Saints are #1 in the NFL in total points with 32.9 per game 510 total.
3. The Colts are #9 in the NFL in total yardage with 363.1 per game
4. The Colts are #7 in the NFL in total points with 26 per game and 416 total.

Clearly, the Saints have the offensive advantage. #1 is a Juggernaught. #7 is not. The Saints offense is almost 7 points per game better than the Colts offense. That is not equal, especially when you are talking about high scoring teams. What about defense?

1. The Saints are #20 in the NFL in Defensive yardage per game with 341 per game.
2. The Saints are #13 in the NFL in Defensive points allowed with 21.3 per game
3. The Colts are #15 in the NFL in Defensive yardage per game with 339.2 per game
4. The Colts are #8 in the NFL in Defensive points allowed with 19.2 per game

The way I see it, the Saints offensive advantage is larger than the Colts defensive advantage. Colt defense is basically 2 points & 2 yards better per game than the Saints defense. That is pretty equal.

So if the Colts defense is 2 points better than the Saints, and the Saint offense is 7 points better than the Colts: the Saints win by 5 points. Add & deduct; you'll come out with the same figure. I would suspect it will be closer than that. A last second field goal will make the difference.

So why favor the Colts? I have only heard two answers for to this question:

1. The AFC defeated the NFC 37-27 this season
2. Peyton Manning plays for the Colts.

Don't read much into the AFC/NFC thing. This is only true because the worst teams in the NFL are concentrated in the NFC. The Saints were 4-0 vs the AFC. They were not subject to this statistical rule. If you want to bet on the Colts because of Peyton Manning, you have taken a reasonable stance. I do not object.

Shortly after the NFC Championship game, Prime Time and the Playmaker were giggling to themselves about the pending Super Bowl. Prime declared that Reggie Wayne would run wild against the Saints Secondary, but it would make no difference. The Saints would kill the Colts.

Now wouldn't it be nice for Vegas if it worked out that way? You install the Colts as the favorite, a lot of people bet that way, and the Saints win. Vegas cleans up.

I don't think I would go so far as to say the Saints will kill the Colts, but I do believe the Saints have to be favored to win... Presuming you are not a Vegas bookie. I think they are the stronger of two very equitable opponents. I have a ton of respect for both of these opponents. We have the two very best teams in the NFL slapping iron. This is the best possible matchup. It should be fantastic and high scoring shootout.