NFL MONEY LINES by Andrew Iskoe of Logical Approach
Over the past two decades an increasingly popular, and profitable, form of wager
in Las Vegas has been the Money Line wager. Rather than using a pointspread the bettor
just picks the straight up winner of the game. Of course, depending on the relative
strengths of the teams, you will lay or take odds to back your choice. That is, you'll
lay 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 or more to back a strong favorite. Likewise, you'll get 2-1,
3-1 or more if you think a solid underdog can pull of the straight up upset. In many
respects, it's the same as wagering on baseball (except you can't list the starting
Historically, the pointspread matters in the NFL only about 15% to 18% of the
time. That is, between 82% and 85 % of the time the team that wins the game also
covers the pointspread. Either the Favorite wins and covers, or the Underdog pulls
off the upset and wins straight up. That 15% to 18% figure refers to those times
when the Favorite wins but by less than the pointspread. As a result, if you handicap
the game by looking at which team is most likely to win the game, you'll also cover
the pointspread roughly five times in six.
The Money Line offers a way to increase your return when betting on Underdogs.
Rather than lay 11 to 10 and get some points, if you like that Underdog you can play
them to win the game straight up. Instead of getting points you'll be getting better
than even money on your wager. Similarly if you like a Favorite but feel squeamish
about laying points, you can lay the odds on the Money line and you'll win if your
team wins the game, be it by 1 point or 31 points. You'll lay more than 11 to 10
for the privilege of having your team just win the game, but there may be times when
playing the Money Line is more advantageous than laying points. And, as in baseball,
you can play multi-team money line parlays if you don't wish to lay heavy odds on
a single team winning straight up.
Unfortunately there's been very little research done and published on what a proper
money line should be for each level of favorite and underdog. That's where the accompanying
chart comes in.
Since 1981 there have been over 6,500 regular season games played in the NFL.
We have researched all of those games. Looking at how often a 4 point home favorite
won or lost, how often a 3 ½ point road underdog won or lost, etc. We're talking straight
up results, not vs. the pointspread. We've tabulated those results and have converted
them into the accompanying chart to determine what the true odds for each pointspread
As a simple example, if a 4 point home favorite won 21 games and lost 14 games,
they will have won 60% of those games, which translates into a 3 to 2 favorite, or
a -150 favorite.
We did smooth the results somewhat to account for slight differences in pointspreads.
A 2 point favorite at one Sports book might have been - 2 ½ or - 1 ½ at another Book.
But the accompanying odds are quite precise considering the large size of our data
Our chart shows what the proper price should be for a Home Favorite or Home Underdog
at various pointspread levels. As the chart shows, there is a fairly linear relationship
overall. That is, the higher the pointspread favorite, the greater the winning percentage.
But there are some dips along the way.
To use this chart effectively you would compare the posted money line on a game
to what it should be according to the chart. Thus, if a Sports Book lists a 7 point
home favorite as - 280 you are getting the worst of it. That team should only be
- 245. Since Sports Books often use a spread of 20 cents, the 7 point road underdog
might be at + 260. If so, you'd have an overlay since you'd be getting +260 when
you should be getting only + 245 (the inverse of the home favorite price).
The chart lists the money lines from the perspective of the home team, both in
terms of favorites and underdogs. The road team price is simply the inverse of the
home team at the same level. Thus to find the price for a 6 point road favorite you'd
reverse the price of a 6 point home underdog. You can see the 6 point home underdog
should be + 228. Thus a 6 point road favorite should be - 228. Similarly, to find
the price for a 10 point road underdog you'd convert the price of a 10 point home
favorite. A 10 point home favorite should be - 405. Thus a 10 point road underdog
should be + 405.
Hopefully you'll find this information insightful and useful as you consider yet
another way to profit during the football season.
HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF NFL WINS
& LOSSES BY LINE RANGE
BASED ON ALL 6,478 * NFL REGULAR
SEASON GAMES FOR 1981 - 2008
CONVERSION TO MONEY LINE EQUIVALENTS
|Home Favorite Line||True Odds||Home Underdog Line||True Odds|
|> -14.0||-6.66||> +14.0||+29.00|
To have TRUE VALUE on the MONEY LINE you should
LAY NO MORE than the TRUE ODDS listed for the FAVORITE at each Pointspread level
and should TAKE NO LESS THAN the TRUE ODDS listed for the UNDERDOG at each level.
NOTE: To convert for plays on the Road team, simply use the reverse sign (i.e.
a 7 point Home Favorite should be -2.45 on the Money Line; a 7 point Road Underdog
should be +2.45 on the Money Line;
NOTE: True Odds are expressed to a dollar. Money lines are expressed in hundred
dollar increments. Thus True Odds of -1.57 are the same as a Money Line expressed
* Excludes 2 Regular Season Neutral Site games played in London, England (in 2007 & 2008).