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Fans take the ‘over’

Vegas loves NFL fans

Miami Dolphins v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

A good over/under mark will bring in monetary bets in about equal amounts on both sides. That’s how the over/under gets set.

If the initial mark results in heavier betting on one side or the other, then the mark moves up or down to even out the cash bets.

Contrary to popular thought, Vegas bookies aren’t really projecting how many games a team will win or lose; they simply try to set a number where half the money will go to one side, and half the other. Whatever the actual number of wins - half the bets are winners and half are losers.

For popular teams, the number needs to be set a little higher, since fans tend to be more optimistic than is objectively warranted. For teams that are negatively perceived, the number needs to be set lower, since people’s biases will push money to the ‘under’ side of the bet.

Recently, SB Nation asked fans of all 32 teams to take an over/under position on their own team via the FanPulse Survey. The results show why most people shouldn’t gamble.

Every single fanbase had more fans take the ‘over’ position in greater numbers than the ‘under’ position.




Some of them did this at levels that were just mind-numbing.

Let’s have a look at the results from the NFC East

Philadephia Eagles

Doug Pederson has been the coach of the Eagles for 3 years, and the team has had 7, 13, and 9 wins in those three seasons. They stumbled to a 2nd place finish in the division last year.

The mark that was set for the over/under in the FanPulse Survey was 9.5, which strikes me as being on the high side for a team that has exceeded that total only once in the coach’s tenure. It is tied for 4th-highest over-under mark in the league behind the Patriots, Rams, Saints, and Chiefs.

But an astounding 99% of Bleeding Green Nation readers took the ‘over’.

Jeez. I wonder if it’s too late for me to set up a book in Philadelphia. That just feels like easy money.

Dallas Cowboys

The survey set the mark for the defending NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys, who finished with 10 wins in 2018, at 9 wins — a number that seems a bit more realistic than that set for the Eagles.

A bit.

After all, in Jason Garrett’s tenure of 8 full seasons (not counting his first half-season), the team has 72 regular season wins - exactly 9 wins per season.

Divisional Round - Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

But, they’ve exceeded 9 wins only 3 times in those eight years, and they haven’t put together back-to-back seasons of more than 9 wins since ‘95-96, around the time that most of this year’s draft picks were born.

Still, a surprising 78% of Blogging the Boys readers took the ‘over’.

Washington Redskins

Jay Gruden has completed 5 full seasons as the head coach of the Redskins. He took charge in 2014, inheriting a roster that had been demolished by the failed trade for Robert Griffin, which cost 3 first round picks & a second rounder, combined with the $36m cap penalty for the Redskins failure to participate in league wide collusion to suppress player salaries in the 2010 ‘uncapped’ season.

I tend to look at 2014 as an outlier.

In the 4 seasons since, the Redskins have achieved win totals of 9, 8, 7, and 7.

Yet the over/under for the Redskins was a puzzling 6.5 wins. One has to go back to the dumpster-fire years of ‘13-’14 to find a win total under 7, but somehow, the Redskins, who were 6-3 last season before losing Brandon Scherff, Alex Smith and Colt McCoy in rapid succession to reach the tipping point on injuries, are expected to regress.

Personally, I don’t see the Redskins as having a Super Bowl winning roster, but when I compare the team to last year’s 7-9 squad, I see a better roster overall, not a weaker one.

85% of Hogs Haven readers who took the FanPulse survey seem to feel similarly, taking the ‘over’. The fault here lies, I think, with an over/under mark that is simply too low for the Redskins 2019 roster and 2019 schedule of opponents.

New York Giants

Given the negative vibe that has surrounded the Giants for most of the off-season for, first, trading Odell Beckham away, and, later, seeming to step on their collective dicks in the draft, I thought the over/under mark might come in wildly low, at around 4 or 5 wins.

Instead, it came in at 6 wins.

True, Pat Schurmer’s team picked up only 5 wins last season, and the roster doesn’t look much improved in 2019 (in fact, it may be weaker), but 6 seems to be a magic number for the G-men. Twice in the past 6 seasons they have finished with exactly 6 wins, and they have 38 regular season wins in those 6 season — a rate of 6.3 wins per year.

It is true that the Giants have only exceeded 6 wins twice in the past six seasons, making the over seem unlikely, but....

Actually, you know what? I’ve talked myself out of what I thought before. A mark of 6 is unreasonably high for this team.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants TODAY NETWOR

The right number for the over/under bet appears to be 5, yet 48% of Big Blue View readers said the team would be ‘over’ 6 wins, as opposed to just 22% taking the ‘under’ (29% took the “push). I don’t see how this Giants team succeeds at a higher level than the 2018 iteration did.

What does it all mean?

Survey results are very different from betting real money. It costs nothing to click the “over” button when all that’s at stake is an anonymous response to an unimportant survey. I suspect that if some of the mortgage money were at stake, fans might be a bit more circumspect.

The Eagles fans seem unreasonably upbeat this off-season for reasons I can’t figure out. They’ve lost the best quarterback on their team, who’s gone to play in Jacksonville. If Carson Wentz’s first two years provide any indication, the team is likely to have Nate Sudfeld starting at least 3 - 5 games this season - a sobering thought if you’re an Eagles fan. At the moment, Zach Brown appears to be their starting middle linebacker — a player that the Redskins cut loose prior to the draft. I don’t see where anyone finds the optimism to think this team can match its 9-win total of 2018.

The Cowboys had a good season in 2018, finishing with ten wins, so I actually understand where their fan base might feel upbeat at the moment, but it’s been well over twenty years since they put together back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins. It’s hard to look at this Dak Prescott-led team, playing a first-place schedule, and see them breaking the drought in 2019.

The Redskins appear to, once again, have a roster and a schedule that give them the opportunity to compete in the NFC East. The team was in control of the division through nine weeks last season, and are returning with a generally improved roster and a seemingly less demanding schedule in 2019. It’s hard to see why the team would regress, but there seems to be a hangover from December and January when the salary cap issues and gaping hole at quarterback seemed insurmountable. The front office has done and admirable job of getting two low-budget options at quarterback that offer a high floor (Keenum) and a higher ceiling (Haskins) that should offer Gruden good options in 2019, and fan confidence seems to be on the rise.

The Giants? Their front office seems to be in a better situation than their cross-town AFC rivals, the Jets. In a year or two, Gettleman will have either proved himself a genius, or else will likely be fishing with McCagnan.

In the meantime, here’s the full list of over/under results from the SB Nation survey


How many regular season wins will the Redskins have in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    12 or more
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    (18 votes)
  • 21%
    (136 votes)
  • 30%
    (191 votes)
  • 24%
    (152 votes)
  • 10%
    (65 votes)
  • 6%
    6 or fewer
    (41 votes)
619 votes total Vote Now