January 7th, 2013

NFL Favorites Come Through Again; Vegas Books Continue To Get Slaughtered In 2012 NFL Season

By Robert Ferringo

The favorites were a perfect 4-0 against the spread in the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. For the general betting public is was just another windfall, and for the sportsbooks it was another kick square in the groin during one of the worst seasons for the books in recent memories.

I came across a post on Deadspin that commented on an original report from the Los Angeles Times in which Jay Rood of the MGM Resorts properties and Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino share their tails of woe from this NFL season.

Here were my two favorite quotes:

“It’s like you’re a passenger trapped on a train to hell,” said Jay Rood, whose 12 MGM Resorts’ sports books at properties including Mandalay Bay, Mirage and Bellagio took a seven-figure hit that day.

Kornegay dismissed the notion bookmakers can recover enough money in the NFL playoffs to make up for their losses. “We’ll just turn the page on the calendar and continue to evaluate ourselves, seeing if we need to make subtle changes,” he said.

At the end of the story Kornegay lamented that the books will, “need the underdog to win in every game. Again.” Not so much.

While I can empathize with the plight of Kornegay, a long-time friend of Doc’s Sports, I have to say that I have absolutely no sympathy for the books themselves. None. Just as they have no sympathy or compassion in the years when they were busting out players left and right.

For the 2012 season the NFL favorites have gone just 124-131-5, good for just a 48.63 percent hit rate. Home favorites have been even worse, going 77-87-3 for just a 46.95 percent win rate. So on the surface it appears that it should’ve been a strong year for the books since most of the betting public is chalk players.

However, the favorites and the big public underdog seemed to constantly and consistently come through for the entire year. Also, top teams like New England, Houston, Denver, San Francisco and Green Bay seemed to lay the wood to the bottom-feeders whenever they faced them. Mix in some trendy public teams like Indianapolis with Andrew Luck (11-5 ATS) and Washington with Robert Griffin (11-5 ATS), and sprinkle in the total ineptitude of bottom-feeder teams like Oakland, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Tennessee (combined ATS record: 19-44-1) and it was pretty simple for bettors to load up on the top tier and, when desperate, simply bet against the losers.

I’m sure the books will chalk this up to just being a simple anomaly. Or it was just an “off” year. But I actually disagree. I remember talking with a Las Vegas sportsbook manager earlier in the season and simply asking him, “Where are all the 7’s and 8’s?”

This entire year it felt like the books were simply tossing out versions of the 3.0. Everywhere I looked it seemed like we were parsing through lines at 2.5 or 3.5 or 3.0, these seemingly coin-flip games (according to the books’ numbers). Truly, it was like they weren’t putting any effort in at all.

Case in point: during the meat of the NFL season, October and November from Week 5 to Week 12, there were 112 lined NFL games. Only 24 of those games had lines of 7.0 or higher and only 14 of the 112 games were lined at higher than that.

I can’t really say that I expect a “regression” next year because, as I mentioned, it’s not as if NFL favorites performed at some bizarre level this year. All I know is that it is not likely that the books have two losing years in a row, so somebody’s gonna pay.

Posted at 3:32 pm | Comments (0)

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