Avoid the Vig
Part 2: NFL Preseason Data
This is Part 2: NFL Preseason Actionable Data.
Part 1: NFL Preseason Actionable Data was posted on July 28, 2019.
After researching and identifying moneyline opportunities, I decided to delve further and see if it was more prudent to take these teams with the spread. Using line history from footballlocks.com, I identified whether the teams covered the spread in each game over the last four preseasons. One would expect a regression to the mean, after all, spreads are supposed to create a 50% opportunity for each team to win. However, there were a few outliers that were frankly astonishing.
First, lets analyze the data. Below are the games for each team aggregated by week and year. The odds are shown and highlighted in green for when the team covered and red when they did not. I also broke it down by the teams record for when they are the favorite and the underdog. The overall percentage against the spread (ATS) is next to the team name at the top of each table.
Once I had the ATS numbers for each team, I then wanted to see a comparison to the straight up (SU) percentages.
Below are the assumptions and, possibly, actionable information regarding each team.
Baltimore's percentage between ATS and straight up are nearly identical. Therefore, I would take the -110 all day over the moneyline favorite. The Ravens are equally effective ATS at home and on the road.
Kansas City had the biggest disparity between ATS and SU. They were the second best straight up team that I analyzed, yet they dropped 31 percentage points ATS. Both as the favorite and the underdog, they were under .500 over the last four preseasons. When taking the Chiefs, look to play the moneyline.
Philadelphia and Minnesota had an expected regression to the mean. Both proved above as favorites and .500 getting the points. I would use the posted numbers and other variables to dictate whether or not I'd take either team ATS or SU.
Despite their losing record, both the Falcons and the Rams had a worse ATS percentage than SU. These teams are clearly overvalued based upon their regular season success. Neither team had success as the favorite or dog as they both posted losing records in each category ATS.
The Saints are 31% ATS and SU over the time frame and have not had success when laying or getting the points. Fade them on the moneyline when they are the dogs and take the points when they are the favorites.
Among our fade teams, Dallas is the only team that had a better ATS percentage than SU, but even that number is within reasonable expectations from a poor performing team. There was no glaring discernible difference between their performance as favorites or underdogs.
Moving forward, I plan on using the above information, combined with the potential play table to identify value. None of my plays will be made blind, but you have to start somewhere. Situationals, motivation, injuries, rosters, style of quarterbacks (running quarterbacks tend to be more effective in the preseason) all greatly impact the outcome of the game and the spread. However, knowing a coach's perceptive on the preseason combined with the team's recent success/failure, should go a long way into putting money in our pockets.