by Simon Noble - 11/16/2005
At Pinnacle Sports, we have the largest variety of betting options offering new and exciting ways for bettors to profit on their favorite teams. This week, I'd like to take a closer look at a special market that is unique to Pinnacle Sports - "Team Performance" wagers in football.
For betting purposes, we define a "team's performance" as simply the number of points a team scores in a game. In addition, the winning team is awarded an additional 10 points to their final score if they win. As a result, a team can fail to cover against the spread but still have a chance of being a winner for "team performance" bettors regardless.
By way of example, in Sunday's NFL game Washington was defeated by Tampa Bay 35-36, so the Buccaneers' team performance was 46 (36+10), while the Redskins' was 35. The team performance total was set at 20½ on Washington and 22½ for Tampa Bay - both sides were winners for betting purposes as they both went over their team performance rating.
The best way to think of the performance wager is a combination bet on the moneyline and team total and are best used when you have leans on both. This allows you to leverage both your opinions in a single bet without using a riskier parlay. These props use a 16-cent line (usually -108 for both sides), so you pay a lot less vigorish than if you played a parlay - a 2-team parlay normally has about 10% vigorish compared to 3.7% on the team performance props.
But beware of the "obvious" when making your selections. Simply assuming the team total is correct and adding points based on how likely the team is to win according to the spread could end in disappointment. There are two other important points you should consider when deciding how to wager on a team performance prop.
First, if a team scores over its team total, it's more likely to win as it is correlated. Secondly, don't ignore key numbers for team totals. Everyone understands how important the "3" is in an NFL spread, but there are also big numbers on team totals as well. The most frequently occurring team totals are 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 and 31 but you should also factor in the scoring distribution in the NFL. Basically a team scores less than 21 points in the NFL around 51% of the time. If you understand these two concepts - key team totals and scoring distributions - you can profit from team performance wagering.
Another tool to consider for your wagering arsenal is team totals. When these are bet in combination with team performance wagers, you can create some unusual middling opportunities. For example, assume a favorite you like is playing a strong defensive team. The favorite has a team total of 20½ and a team performance of 26½. Your own handicapping suggests that the favorite will probably win but score less than 21 points.
If you play the favorite team total under 20½ and the favorite performance over 26½ you are shooting for a middle. If your team wins and scores between 17 and 20 points, you win both bets. It is possible to lose both also, so don't be reckless - make the plays that together give you an advantage.
With several rivalries helping to shape the final standings, bowl lineups and state bragging rights, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the early line movement and betting action on these key games kicking off this weekend.
Ohio St (-3) at Michigan
Ohio St (8-2; 6-1 Big Ten), Michigan (7-3; 5-2) and Penn State (9-1; 6-1) stand atop the Big Ten. This classic match-up, together with the Penn State-Michigan State game will decide who wins the Big Ten Championship and receives an automatic BCS berth. While the Big Ten crown is decided simply by records against Big Ten opponents (with co-champions possible), the BCS uses tiebreakers to determine who wins the berth. If Penn State wins, it earns the berth regardless of the other game's outcome. If Penn State loses, the winner of the Ohio-State Michigan game earns the automatic BCS Berth.
We opened this game at -2.5 -111 and took moderate action slightly favoring the Buckeyes and public money has now gently pushed the price up to -3 -103.
Alabama (+7) at Auburn
While Alabama, Auburn and LSU are tied for first place in the SEC West, LSU has the upper hand on tiebreakers. The winner of the "Iron Bowl" can advance to the SEC championship game only if LSU stumbles in one of its last two games.
The last time the Tide and Tigers tangled with a combined record better than the current 17-3 was 1994. Boasting a high-powered offense ranked first in scoring and total offense in the SEC, Auburn is averaging 34.8 points and 442.5 yards per game. On the other side, Alabama continues to struggle offensively converting only two offensive touchdowns in their last four SEC games.
Our opener of -6.5 -110 received light action but we are now seeing two-way action at +7, with some point-buying up to +7.5. Once again, most of our sharper players have yet to have an opinion on this game.
Clemson (-1.5) at S. Carolina
After starting 2-3, South Carolina has pulled off five straight wins including upsets over Tennessee and Florida. The Gamecocks have never won an SEC championship, but can do so with a win and a Georgia loss to Kentucky. At 6-4 (4-4), Clemson is not in contention to win the ACC but is already bowl eligible. Clemson is still a small favorite though as its four losses were by a combined total of 14 points.
We opened this game at South Carolina Pk -116. Our early sharps were all over Clemson and heavy volume quickly drove the line out on the Tigers to -1.5. While we are seeing a fairly even split in the amount of bets placed on the two sides, most of the larger bets are coming in on Clemson at -1.5.
Fresno State (+23.5) at Southern California
USC wins against Fresno State and UCLA next week would lock up an invitation to the national championship, although it might still receive a bid if it lost one of these two games. USC's Matt Leinart-led offense has been dominant, averaging 48.4 points per game. While USC's defense is solid allowing only 19.5 points per game, injuries have been particularly brutal on its' linebacking corps.
We opened this game at +24.5 -121 and took a few bets on the Bulldogs. We are seeing two-way action at +24 and +23.5 with several of our sharper players still playing Fresno State.
Indianapolis (-5.5) at Cincinnati
Indianapolis has played impressively all year, and has accumulated a 9-0 record. Only two other teams have started 9-0 since 1990: Kansas City in 2003 (losing to Cleveland when 9-0) and Denver in 1998 (losing to the New York Giants when 13-0). Indy has statistically dominated opposing teams this year, outscoring its opponents by an average of 16.1 points per game. The Colts have the #1 scoring offense, as well as #2 defense for points allowed (with Chicago at #1).
We opened the Colts at -4 -111 and took a few early sharp hits. The line has crept up to -5.5 with the bettors definitely favoring the Colts. The volume is moderate but we expect a lot more Indy bettors to come out as the weekend approaches.