Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hey Giants Fans, You Think That Line On the Super Bowl Is Good? Vegas Has A Bridge They'd Like To Sell You

With all of your winnings from betting the Giants in the Super Bowl, you should easily be able to afford this nice, shiny new bridge!

I’m well aware that by heaping praise on Colin Cowherd I’m essentially committing blog suicide (if you weren’t aware, Cowherd has not exactly endeared himself to the blogosphere: see here, here and here), but via a conversation with the Las Vegas Consultants, Cowherd came up with a few VERY good reasons why the groundswell of betting support in favor of the Giants (3 to 1 that the Giants cover the spread) is so off-base and why the folks in Vegas are licking their collective chops.

The first thing he mentioned is that one of the easiest sucker bets is taking advantage of a bettor’s short-term memory (I’m paraphrasing a bit here). People are so swept up in the emotion of the Giants’ victories over Dallas and Green Bay as well as the “moral victory” over the Pats in Week 17 that they value those wins over the stuff they would normally use to evaluate a matchup. As Cowherd mentioned several times, the line on paper in Vegas for this game should be a COMFORTABLE 15 points. Today I’m seeing spreads as low as 11. People are putting too much emphasis on “momentum” and not enough evidence on raw fact. Yes the Giants are probably better than they were when they dropped their first 2 games of the season or when they played horrendously against the dregs of the NFC Central, but they aren’t as good as their two upsets either and certainly aren't as good as the one game they put it all together against the Pats (in the same way the Pats aren't as good as their 40+ win over the Skins). The objective evidence in favor of the Pats is overwhelming according to the Vegas folks. And if they were more wrong then right, you’d be building Casinos in deserts.

The second factor that came up is weather. The Pats are a fast track team. In games played in temperature above 50 degrees, the Pats average margin of victory is 847 million. When the Giants play in controlled climates, they are decidedly more average. But it’s not so much that the Giants are good “mudders” and a bad “good climate” team (they did beat the Cowboys in Big D in the playoffs) as much as it is that in good weather the Patriots did things to teams that have never been done before. Because the Pats haven’t blown a team out since Bills game (they did handle the Dolphins but that game was close for awhile, as was the Steelers first half), people think they are vulnerable. It’s only because they set the bar so high that an undefeated team that spent the last month of the season beating the NFC champs, the “team that no one wanted to play in the playoffs” (the Jags) and the undermanned Chargers could be considered vulnerable. The Patriots’ body of work speaks for itself and when you compare it to the Giants, it’s miles ahead (the Giants scraped past the Lions and then got KILLED by an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings team in back-to-back weeks).

The third factor is that these games are rarely close and the favorite usually wins. Only 11 times in history has the score in the Super Bowl been decided by 7 points or less. The favorites in the Super Bowl are 28-13. Favorites have covered the spread 24 of the 41 games. Favorites of 10 or more points are 9-4 overall and 7-5-1 against the spread. It’s not to say that it’s a foregone conclusion because the stats lean in the Pats favor (if anything, the statistics make clear that there have been several major upsets), but it is to say that in betting on the Giants +11 or whatever you are getting, history says your odds ain’t that sweet (please spare me the many statistical arguments otherwise including small sample size and whatever bullshit you want to throw at me). And I'm not even going to mention the oldest Vegas axiom of them all that "when everyone's betting one way, bet the other way" (not that that idea has any foundation in fact necessarily).

So essentially, these guys and Cowherd came to the conclusion that while the world and Giants fans (two separate entities) are throwing money at the Giants and the points, they’d be wise to take a step back and look at the facts without the glare of their 6 inch platinum Giants neck pendant obscuring their view. Because when you actually break it down (something I hope to do in the next day or two), you’ll see that betting the Giants in this game is a suckers bet, and come Sunday night Vegas is going to be rolling in the dough of some well-heeled suckers.

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