Expert NFL Week 15 Picks Against The Spread

It’s been a great 2011 NFL season and those following my free picks here at The Sports Geek have gone 34-22-3 for +9.01 units on favorites and 1-3 for +3.00 units on +EV long shots. Unfortunately after starting the first couple weeks slow we went on an epic run of 9 straight winning weeks that’s now ended. After a couple weeks of small losses we went 1-2 last week for-1.60 units and our third straight losing week, although the previous two were quite small losses. As I mentioned at the outset of the season we’re not going to win each and every week, but betting sports is how I make my living and following my picks over the long term you will come out ahead.

NFL Week 15 Picks

This week my picks thread is going to be a lot different than the previous 14 weeks. To explain first, the playoffs races have tightened up and this week other than the Cleveland vs Arizona game, pretty much every game on the board still has some meaning. I ended up finding an insanely +EV wager anyone here can jump on. I’m going explain the full strategy behind this wager in this post and then provide you three additional picks at the end.

The first thing I looked at before capping games this week was for situation where a team who has seeding, a wild card spot or a division on the line is playing a team without anything on the line. Doing this I spotted an amazing trend.

  • NY Giants -6.5 @ Washington Redskins
  • Dallas Cowboys -6.5 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans -6.5 @ Minnesota Vikings
  • Tennessee Titans -6.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
  • Cincinnati Bengals -6.5 @ St. Louis Rams

Everyone one of these teams is a -6.5 road favorite, four of them trying desperately to get into the playoffs, and one of them is in a race for the #2 seed and a first round bye. All 5 are playing against a team that has pretty much nothing on the line. I decided to take a look further and calculate each team’s no vig win probability. To do this I headed to Pinnacle Sports and pulled the moneylines for each of these games. Note that while Pinnacle does not accept US players, they have the lowest margins, highest betting limits and fastest payouts. This is a site professionals from around the world bet large money via, so we can count on their odds being accurate, which is why I chose them.

Removing vig example: Right now at Pinnacle Sports the moneyline for Giants game is Giants -287 / Redskins +254. To calculate a no vig win probability we need to use risk/return=implied probability, where return represents stake+win. For example risk $2.87 to win $1.00 on Giants the return is $3.87 ($2.87 stake + $1.00 win). So 2.87/3.87= 74.16% and for the redskins side $1.00 stake wins $2.54 so 1/3.54=28.25%. Add these two probabilities together and you’ll see 74.16+28.25= 102.41%. The reason they total over 100% is the bookmakers advantage. To remove that advantage let’s divide each implied probability by 102.41, so 74.16/ 102.41=72.41% and 28.25/ 102.41=27.59%. Notice 72.41+27.59=100%. We now know the no-vig market price for the Giants to win outright is 72.41%.

I’ll save the math and just show the results:

Giants -287 Redskins +254 = Giants 72.41%
Cowboys -310 / Buccs +273 = Cowboys 73.82%
Saints -290 / Vikings +256 = Saints 72.58%
Titans -285 / Colts +252 = Titans 72.26%
Bengals -291 / Rams +257 = Bengals 72.66%

There is another game I was interested in Patriots -7 which has a moneyline of Patriots -325 / Denver +285. This works out to Patriots 74.65% no vig, except all the other point spreads are being teased from -6.5 to -0.5, but the Patriots are -1. Here I happen to know teams win by exactly 1 about 2% of the time. We push (not lose) on -1, so half that 2% is in our -1 line and half is in our opponents +1 line. So the no vig line for Patriots -1 is 74.65-1=73.65%.

My next step was to look at what online betting sites offer for 6-team 6-point teaser odds. Everything I found for this was extremely poor. But I did find has +450 on 5-team 6-point teasers. This is perfect and let me show you why. Using risk divided by return equals implied probability formula, based on 1 risked at +450 returns 5.5 (1 win and 4.5 stake) we see 1/5.5= 0.1818181818181818. So we need all 5 teams to win about 18.18% of the time to break even. To see how often “each” of the five selections must cover their modified point spread to achieve that overall 18.18% break even rate, we calculate the fifth root of 0.1818181818181818, which is 0.711095. So each team needs to cover about 71.11% of the time to break even. Amazing in all six of these we calculated the no vig fair probabilities ranged from 72.26% to 73.82%. We’re getting well over the required break even on all six selections! And we’re being forced to parlay them which is even better, because parlays are only sucker bets when compounding –EV lines, when doing it with all +EV selects Parlays=dynamite.

Pinnacle does not offer reduced juice on parlays. When I tested the five teams we’re teasing to -0.5 in a $100 stake money line parlay it paid $359.00. With a teaser we’re getting the same exact bet and getting paid $450.00. This is very strong +EV wager. However we have six teams so what I’m going to do here is risk 0.37 units to win 1.67 units on all six combos of five. So just take however much you normally risk on a -110 point spread and multiply it by 0.37. In total we’re risking 2.22 times our normal bet size. If we lose 2 or more we lose 2.2 units. If we win 5 we lose 0.18, if we hit all 6 and that’s our long shot super +EV hope here we pick up 10 units of profit. This is a gamble for those who are risk adverse but this is the largest +EV bet I’ve given you so far this season.

Pick #1 Round Robin Teasers (6 combinations of 5-team 6-point teasers) @ (US Accepted)

Bet 1: Cowboys -0.5 / Saints -0.5 / Titans -0.5 / Bengals -0.5 / Patriots -1
Bet 2: Giants -0.5 / Saints -0.5 / Titans -0.5 / Bengals / -0.5 Patriots -1
Bet 3: Giants -0.5 / Cowboys -0.5 / Titans -0.5 / Bengals -0.5 / Patriots -1
Bet 4: Giants -0.5 / Cowboys -0.5 / Saints -0.5 / Bengals -0.5 / Patriots -1
Bet 5: Giants -0.5 / Cowboys -0.5 / Saints -0.5 / Titans -0.5 / Patriots -1
Bet 6: Giants -0.5 / Cowboys -0.5 / Saints -0.5 / Titans -0.5 / Bengals -0.5

Note all of the above are 0.37 times the amount you’d normally risk on a -110 spread. If you’re a $330 to win $300 per game bettor make it $122.10 risked on each. Also note: These are all strong +EV, so if the Patriots move to -7.5 and the teaser gives them only -1.5 this is fine, there is also enough margin if any of the -6.5 point spreads move to -7 and bring them teased only to -1, again fine. Don’t give up the odds if you don’t need to, shop around, but if the best you can find no worries.

Chicago Bears -3.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks

I handicapped this one with no adjustments as Bears -3.5 -111. There a few additional factors worth considering though. The Bears blew a game last week they were favorites in and had won. The defense held the Broncos scoreless until late in the 4th quarter in a 10-0 game, and then the offense made mistakes, and Tebow ran all over them in the final minutes. You can blame one player for stepping out of bounds, but teams win or lose as teams. The Bears have a long history of playing well late in the season, are now sitting with their playoff hopes on the line. I look for the Bears to bounce back strong and win this by more than a Field Goal.

Free Pick #2 Bears -3.5 -110 @ 5Dimes

Carolina Panthers +6 @ Houston Texans

The Texans pulled off late game heroics that cost us a winning week last week. It was great game if you weren’t betting the opposite side. The fact here still is the Panthers want to win; this isn’t a team that has quit. Some might consider betting just the first half in this one but I’m going the full game. This based off the Texans having a plethora of injuries, having a long battle last week and stamina issues where they need a bunch of second and third stringers to play a low mistake game for four quarters. Let down week for the Texans in my opinion; I’m betting Panthers cover here on the road.

Free Pick #3: Panthers +6 -110 @ 5Dimes

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

This game is not board yet. As long as the Dolphins are no more than a -2.0 favorites when it opens up, that’s my pick for this one. The Dolphins got blown out last week, their coach got fired. Teams in this spot very often bounce back strong.

Free Pick #4 Dolphins (Spread: T.B.D)