As you all know by now, the name of the game among pro sports handicappers and so-called “Sharps” (see “Sharks”) is to sniff out mismatches where the betting public leans heavily one way (typically on a favorite or an Over, but not always) thus creating additional value on the other side of a bet.
Week 3 was a perfect example of the betting public being overwhelmingly wrong, with key matchups going 9-1 in the oddsmakers favor. Only Atlanta’s squeeker over Detroit stung the wiseguys a little. All in all, six unbeatens out of eight lost outright.
But how do we do sniff out this “value”?
One of the most reliable tools is using a Power Rating where all 32 teams are ranked in order from best to worst with a key number attached to each team. The lower the number, the stronger the team. By taking the key number of each team in a matchup then adding or deducting three points (occasionally 3.5 pts) for home field advantage we get a key number of what the spread “should be” based on each team’s ACTUAL strength. When this number differs greatly, say by 3 or more points, to the point spread then we have successfully sniffed out “value” and a potential mismatch to exploit.
In effect, we set our own line then compare it to the oddsmakers in Vegas for weaknesses (to find a “crease” in the line).
For example, in week 3 we sniffed out four inflated favorites thanks to this system. Their “value opponents” went 3-1 ATS, (ONLY Detroit lost, by 1 measly point to the spread, on a questionable ref call). But the Texans, Giants and Colts all covered handily. The mismatches are now 4-1 in three weeks, so the PR is profitable so far.
Using the PR numbers below (and setting our criteria at a 3+ point mismatch in order to establish value), we find a number of mismatches in Week 4:
Game & Line Should be Line Value on
GB -7 vs Chicago GB -11 GB
MIA +2.5 vs n.o. MIA -1 MIAMI
HOU +1.5 vs Ten HOU -3 HOUSTON
Jax -3.5 @ NYJ Jax -0.5 NY JETS
Pit -3 @ BAL BAL -0.5 BALTIMORE
ATL -8 vs Buf ATL -11 ATLANTA
KC -7 vs Was KC -10 KANSAS CITY
The betting public tends to overreact to weekly results like this all the time. If there was ever a week that testified to this, it was week 3.
It is the savvy bettor’s job to look past the spin and crunch the numbers, then go the other way for value. It is not just about current record and who won or lost last week, it is equally or more “how” and “what” transpired that determine each weekly “tweak” to these PR numbers.
Betting value is, of course, no guarantee to win, and often involves courageous backing of teams off a loss (or multiple losses), or fading a popular and overinflated favorite off an impressive outing, but in the long run you will end up in the plus column when shopping for value. Of course, many other factor are in play, but this simple starting approach has netted me tens of thousands in profits over three decades.
I will post an updated Power Rating every week during the season, and continue to chart the outcome of these mismatches Use my Power Ranking or create your own, but do your homework if you want to win consistently.
POWER RATING (OFF WEEK 3):
Rank (Last) +/- Team PR
1 (1) 0 NE -6.5
Didn’t come close to cover the -13 but got the job (and W) in the end.
2 (2) 0 KC -6
Disposed of rival Chargers. Now one of only two unbeatens.
3 (5) +2 ATL -4.5
Survived a barn burner at Detroit. The other unbeaten team.
4 (4) 0 DAL -4
Took care of a feisty Cards bunch on MNF. Starting to click.
5 (7) +2 GB -3.5
Needed O.T. to beat a frisky Cincy at home. 2-1 and trucking on.
6 (3) -3 PIT -3.5
Stunning road loss to Chicago. Still, just one game. Will rebound.
7 (6) -1 OAK -3
Laid an egg at the Skins on SNF. Should return to form quickly.
8 (11) +3 DET -3
First loss in a close one vs Atlanta. This team is showing moxie.
9 (9) 0 SEA -2
Lost a shootout to Titans. But promising signs on offense.
10 (8) -2 DEN -2
Suffered a road loss in Buffalo, but home-cooking is sweet.
11 (16) +5 TEN -1
Hardest team to figure out. Beats great teams, loses to bad ones.
12 (12) 0 NYG -1
Snakebit by 61-yard FG to rivals Philly. Best 0-3 team – LOL.
13 (10) -3 BAL -1
Got spanked by Jax at Wembley. Should be better than this…
14 (17) +3 HOU -1
Almost beat the reigning champs…but didn’t. Should climb.
15 (13) -2 TB -0.5
Couldn’t handle a questionable Vikes team. Jury is still out.
16 (18) +2 PHI -0.5
Continues to overachieve. Stole the game vs NYG on epic kick.
17 (15) -2 CAR 0
Got outpaced by Brees and company. Should be better than this.
18 (19) +1 WAS 1
Easily took care of unbeaten Raiders. Impressive dark horse.
19 (14) -5 ARI 1
Palmer showed good form, but got outpaced by better Dallas team.
20 (20) 0 CIN 1.5
Fell in feisty O.T. loss on the not yet frozen tundra. Good outing.
21 (22) +1 NO 1.5
Stunned the Panthers on the road. Brees is hot. Need more defense.
22 (24) +2 JAX 2
Spanked Ravens in London. Now 2-1 and starting to open some eyes.
23 (23) 0 MIN 2
Tamed the Bucs at home, but still very questionable.
24 (25) +1 LAR 2.5
Survived a TNF barn burner vs SF. Not great, but still 2-1.
25 (26) +1 LAC 3
Lost to K.C. but still the second best 0-3 team…LOL.
26 (21) -5 MIA 3.5
Stank it up royally in a road loss to Gang Green. One word: Cutler.
27 (27) 0 BUF 3.5
Impressive home win as a dog to unbeaten Broncos. Flash in the pan?
28 (29) +1 CHI 4.5
Stunning upset of unbeaten Steelers. Bears show signs of fight.
29 (30) +1 IND 5.5
Won first Stupor bowl of 2017 as a home pup to Cleveland. Oh well.
30 (31) +1 NYJ 5.5
Beat Miami. So what? Still Gang Green. Still huge probs on O & D.
31 (28) -3 CLE 5.5
Browns as road faves?! Really??? How did that work out? A loss!
32 (32) 0 SF 6.5
Spirited shootout loss to the Rams. Still stinks.