An article about NFL divisional simulations by Bet Labs came across my Twitter timeline last night, so I decided to check it out. According to it, they ran 10,000 simulations to figure out the probabilities of each team winning their division this season, no matter if they’re the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs or the 0-4 New York Giants.
The website gave us probabilities in percentages. For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the most likely team to win their division this season with a percentage of 87.44%. Knowing that number, we can cross-reference these percentages with odds from books far and wide. For the sake of using a big #brand, we’ll just cross-reference Bet Labs’ simulations vs. Bovada’s current divisional odds.
The first (and really only) step we needed to take was turning odds (+400) into implied odds (20%.) There are a million odds calculators online. I used Odds Sharks.
Here are the results:
|Team||% to win div. (Bet Labs)||div. odds (Bovada)||% to win div. (Bovada)||Value|
Of the 32 divisional bets on Bovada, according to Bet Labs’ simulations, there are only nine bets that are profitable. That tells you how significant the cuts books are taking. Profitable is also a strong term, considering the fact that only four of these bets have a five percent difference between Bovada’s implied odds and Bet Labs’ simulation odds.
Let’s look at those four bets:
1: Kansas City to win the AFC West
In games 1-4 at home, Denver is +43 games since 1990. It's almost impossible to win there. Don't stick to visiting team data @ DEN early. pic.twitter.com/ehJ5EbxY2h
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) October 2, 2017
2: Buffalo to win the AFC East
The 3-1 Buffalo Bills' defense is elite right now. There's no way to soft that term pic.twitter.com/D8o6QW2c6h
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) October 3, 2017
3: Jacksonville to win the AFC South
4: Carolina to win the NFC South
What about the bad bets? The bottom five are:
I did not expect that betting on the Patriots to win the AFC East, something they’ve done from 2003 to 2016 all but once (finished second in the AFC East at 11-5 in 2008 when Tom Brady was injured) would be the worst bet based on the numbers.
Here’s some food for thought, though. The New England Patriots are -245 right now in a Thursday Night Football matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That implies that the Patriots are going to win 71.01% of the time (and lose 29.99% of the time inversely.) According to FiveThirtyEight, only 22% of 2-3 teams make the playoffs (78% don’t make the playoffs inversely), dating back to 1995. That means there’s about a 23.39% chance that the Patriots’ season ends tonight. If New England loses tonight, the Bills’ odds in the AFC East should skyrocket.