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Happy Thanksgiving to all ye faithful readers. I'm squeezing in an early post this week given there are three games on Thursday. Last week, the top five value plays went 4-0-1 (+400) against the spread, and the top five moneyline value plays went 2-3 (+50, all underdogs). Those three moneyline losses came by two points (Washington), three points (Tampa Bay), and three points (Kansas City). But that's the way it goes.
Three other things to note this week. First, several of the models listed on The Prediction Tracker haven't published their picks yet, so we're dealing with fewer than normal. Second, Washington carries very high expected values at +7.5 / +275 at Dallas on Thanksgiving, but most models don't capture the fact that Washington lost starting QB Alex Smith to a gruesome injury on Sunday, and that backup Colt McCoy will be under center. In the spirit of keeping manual overlay out of this column, I've kept Washington in below.
Finally, Westgate is not currently publishing a moneyline for Houston-Tennessee, so that's excluded.
Probabilities to cover and win are sourced from the 50+ models on The Prediction Tracker. Against-the-spread expected values assume bets to win $100. Moneyline expected values assume bets that risk $100.
I. Against the Spread — Top 5 Value in Week 12
There are only five games this week with positive expected value against the spread, and three are really quite low. Remember, I'm keeping Washington on the list despite the largely "uncaptured" change at QB. Whether you like Washington +7.5 comes down to whether you trust Colt McCoy to keep the game close.
1. BAL -10.5 vs. OAK, -110, 57.7% chance to cover, $11.3 expected return on $100 wager
2. WAS +7.5 at DAL, -120, 59.0%, $9.7
3. TEN +6.0 at HOU, -110, 53.6%, $2.5
4. BUF +3.0 vs. JAX, EV, 51.3%, $2.4
5. TAM -3.5 vs. SFO, EV, 50.7%, $1.4
TOP 5 VALUE
Last Week: 4-0-1 (+400), Season: 29-23-3 (+380)
II. Money Line — Top 5 Value in Week 12
Same comment here as above regarding Washington. Their +275 moneyline odds imply a 26.7% probability to win at Dallas, whereas the models -- largely blind to the Alex Smith injury -- see Washington — or would have seen them — as having a 41% chance. So in order to like Washington at +275 on the moneyline, you would need to think they have a better-than-27% chance to win outright. And ideally more than that.
Remember, converting moneyline odds to implied win probabilities -- and then comparing those implied probabilities to your own view of a team's chances to win -- is generally a clearer way to think about what moneyline odds mean. For example, the odds suggest that the Jets (+375) have a 21.1% chance to beat New England at home, and Atlanta (+550) has a 15.4% chance to win at New Orleans. What do you think?
1. WAS +275 at DAL, 27% prob to win (odds), 41% prob to win (models), $55 expected return
2. NYJ +375 vs. NEP, 21%, 29%, $36
3. ATL +550 at NOS, 15%, 20%, $28
4. MIA +325 at IND, 24%, 28%, $18
5. SEA +150 at CAR, 40%, 44%, $9
TOP 5 VALUE
Last Week: 2-3 (+50), Season: 19-36 (+1314)
All but two selections were modest to heavy underdogs
III. Searching for Value in NFL Futures Bets
I'll refresh the expected-value futures board after Thanksgiving. You can peek back at Week 9's update, or check out my midseason NFL betting review on ESPN, which includes a discussion of Super Bowl odds.