Value Bets on 2019 NFL Division Winners
In this article, I’m going to show you clear criteria that will let you know if your bookie has lines that can be taken advantage of. In other words, are there any +EV bets (i.e. bets with a positive expected value)?
If you find some concepts more difficult to grasp, you may want to refer to a very valuable article I wrote about “Value Betting”. Believe me, it is worth reading if you have the intention of being a smart sports investor.
2. Concrete Example – AFC North odds to win the division
Let’s take a look at the odds, in decimal format, to be crowned 2019 AFC North champions by 8 well-known online sportsbooks (as of September 1st, 2019):
The first step consists of converting those odds into “implied probabilities”, which can be done by calculating 1 / decimal odds. Here is what you get:
What do these numbers represent? Let’s consider the top-left figure, which corresponds to the Cleveland Browns with the Pinnacle bookie: 0.405. That indicates that you should bet the Browns at Pinnacle (at 2.47 odds, or +147 in American format) if you believe Cleveland has a probability to win their division that is higher than 0.405 (i.e. 40.5%). Otherwise, you should stay away from this bet.
If you look at the sum of each column, as shown in the very last row in the table above, you’ll see that we always get a number that’s bigger than 1. Put differently, the implied probabilities of all 4 teams always sum to more than 1. Why? Because each bookie takes a commission (also called the “vigorish”), otherwise they wouldn’t stay in business for very long!
In the next step, we are going to remove the vigorish in order to obtain “fair probabilities”:
Each number in the table above was obtained by dividing the implied probability by the sum of its column. Let’s use again the case of the Browns with Pinnacle. Its implied probability was 0.405 and its column’s sum was 1.094. Therefore, the fair probability is 0.405 / 1.094 = 0.370.
This time, the sum of each column equals one! We have removed the sportsbook’s commission.
We have reached the final step: determining fair odds! Here are the results:
Each team’s fair probability is obtained by taking the average of their 8 fair probabilities from the previous table (across all eight bookies).
Then, you get fair odds in decimal format simply by doing 1 / fair probability.
Finally, the conversion into American format is a bit more complex. See my article entitled “Sports Betting 101: How to Understand Odds (in decimal and American format), Point Spreads and Probabilities”.
Now, what do you do with these numbers?
Here is the key:
If you find a bookie that has odds that are higher than the ones specified in the table above for a specific team, you have found a value bet and you should bet that team at those odds!
For example, the fair odds on the Browns to win the AFC North in 2019 are 2.64. If you go back to the very first table above, you’ll see that Bookmaker.eu has them listed at 2.68. That’s a good bet (albeit a slightly good one).
How about the Steelers? Their fair odds are 2.86. Among the eight sportsbooks that I looked at, Bet365 has the highest odds on Pittsburgh, which are 2.9. Again, we have a slightly profitable bet.
Now, the Ravens at 4.5 odds with Intertops also represent a +EV bet since their fair odds are 4.38.
Finally, based on our calculations, you should bet the Bengals to win their division if the odds are greater than 22.77. That’s clearly the case at Bookmaker.eu whose odds are 33.2!
It is seldom seen that all four teams can be bet at profitable odds. Most of the time, we have 1-2 team(s) that offer value with a certain bookie.
In the case of the AFC North, we have an arbitrage opportunity, which means you could bet the Browns with Bookmaker, the Steelers with Bet365, the Ravens with Intertops and the Bengals with Bookmaker.eu while guaranteeing yourself a net profit at the end of the season, no matter which team wins the division! For a great review of “Arbitrage Betting”, I strongly encourage you to read the following article I wrote.
3. Fair Odds and Value Bets on 2019 Division Winners for all 8 NFL Divisions
Would you like to know if your bookie has some bargains that you could take advantage of?
By using the method described in the preceding section, I came up with the following “fair odds” for each NFL team to win their division in 2019 (I am also presenting which bookie(s) currently offers value bets on specific teams):
- Bills at 13.00 (i.e. +1200) with William Hill
- Dolphins at 96.00 (i.e. +9500) with Bookmaker.eu
- Browns at 2.68 (i.e. +168) with Bookmaker.eu
- Steelers at 2.90 (i.e. +190) with Bet365
- Ravens at 4.50 (i.e. +350) with Intertops
- Bengals at 33.20 (i.e. +3220) with Bookmaker.eu
- Texans at 3.09 (i.e. +209) with Bookmaker.eu
- Raiders at 29.00 (i.e. +2800) with Bookmaker.eu
- Redskins at 24.50 (i.e. +2350) with Bookmaker.eu
- Giants at 20.57 (i.e. +1957) with Bookmaker.eu
Value bets: none.
- Bucs at 15.50 (i.e. +1450) with Bookmaker.eu
- 49ers at 6.50 (i.e. +550) with Sports Interaction and Bet365
- Cardinals at 34.00 (i.e. +3300) with Bookmaker.eu
4. Best Value Bets Available for 2019 Division Winners
In total, I have found 13 value bets from the eight online sportsbooks I chose. Notice that 7 of them are very long shots to win their division with Bookmaker. This sportsbook clearly tends to offer much bigger odds on huge underdogs.
In my opinion, here are the best five division winner bets:
- The Buffalo Bills at 13.00 (i.e. +1200) with William Hill;
- The Houston Texans at 3.09 (i.e. +209) with Bookmaker.eu;
- The Cleveland Browns at 2.68 (i.e. +168) with Bookmaker.eu;
- The Philadelphia Eagles at 2.00 (i.e. +100) with Sports Interaction or Bet365, even though it is not quite a profitable play since the fair odds are 2.02 (see my video “Who will win the NFC East?”).
- The Minnesota Vikings at 3.25 (i.e. +225) with William Hill, even though it is not a profitable play based on the fair odds of 3.37 (see my video “Who will win the NFC North?”).
IMPORTANT REMARK: I’m not advocating betting these five teams to win their division at any odds. It is critical to understand that I feel like those bets are profitable at the odds stated above. For example, if your bookie has the Browns to win their division at 2.25 (i.e. +125), I believe it’s a bad bet.
5. My largest bet ever – An Underrated Team
Did you know I placed my largest bet ever a few months ago on the Buffalo Bills to win more than 6.5 games in the 2019 regular season?
I shot my very first YouTube video to show you my trip to the state of New Jersey where I got the best odds available. In total, I have wagered close to $7,000 USD for a potential net profit of $5,300 USD. This means I obtained average odds of -133 in American format (i.e. 1.752 in decimal format). As far as I know, there is no way you can get lines that are as good as these right now; the odds changed quite a bit since the time I did this video.
With training camp and preseason games now over, I am still extremely optimistic about this play. People are sleeping on the Bills. They have a great defense, their offense has improved a lot, and they have one of the easiest schedules. It got even better yesterday when the Dolphins traded WR Kenny Stills and LT Laremy Tunsil for draft picks. Miami got even weaker, a team the Bills will face twice this year.
Call me crazy if you want, but I added more future bets on Buffalo:
Risking $1,000 to win $12,000 (i.e. a potential return of $13,000) to win the AFC East
Risking $500 to win $33,000 (i.e. a potential return of $33,500) to win the AFC championship
Almost all bookies have odds on Buffalo to win the AFC between 35 and 51. I was thrilled to find out William Hill had 67 odds; as you can see, I put $500 on it.
I’m not claiming the Bills will definitely win the AFC championship. I just believe they have much more than 1 chance out of 67 (which is what William Hill implicitly claims with their odds). It’s a long shot, I’m fully aware it’s unlikely to win, but I’m willing to give it a try.
6. Other Good NFL Future Bets
I also found a few lines that I liked on Conference Champions:
- Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC Conference at 9.00 (i.e. +800) with Sports Interaction and Bet365;
- Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC Conference at 17.00 (i.e. +1600) with Bet365;
- Buffalo Bills to win the AFC Conference at 67.00 (i.e. +6600) with William Hill.
I already showed you my ticket with Buffalo. Here are my wagers on Philly and Seattle:
Again, I’m not suggesting to bet these three teams to win their conference at any odds. I placed those wagers specifically because I thought the odds provided positive expected value.
Enjoy the 2019 NFL season!