Monday, December 08, 2008

What The Point Spread Can Tell You(Even Though You Don't Gamble)

It was 1993, and the Patriots had come in to the month of December with one win and eleven losses. Rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe had been injured for a few games, and going into a game against Cincinnati at home, it was beginning to look like the Patriots might be moved to St Louis. However, some hope was lying inside the numbers, the betting numbers that is. Although many don't gamble (because it is illegal outside of Nevada), a point spread and a team's record against it can tell you a lot about a team's chances of improvement, and even give you a peek into the team's future. In 1993, although the Patriots were 1-11 overall, they had a record against the spread of 7-5, which is remarkable. For those who may remember, the Pats played a ton of close games that season, and had they had a reliable kicker from game one (in other words not Scott Sisson), they may have had a much better won/loss record. Many were surprised that the Patriots won their last 4 games, but those who followed the lines realized the Patriots were due, and although the Patriots finished with a 5-11 overall record, they finished with a very respectable 10-6 record against the spread. They didn't move to St Louis, and we all know what happened from there. With those stats in mind, what can be found out about this year's stretch run? Will a team with a rough record play spoiler? Will a team that everyone thinks is good make the playoffs and be one and done? Let's take a look at one of each and see how it does with three games left on the schedule.

The Spoiler-Kansas City

Kansas City has been thrust into the AFC East race since week one. No, I know they play in the AFC West, but it was the Chiefs Bernard Pollard who changed the complexion of the division when his hit put Tom Brady out for the year. Although the Chiefs are 2-11 overall, they have a respectable 7-6 record against the spread. They have one game left on the schedule that will be very important, a home game against the Miami Dolphins on December 21st. A loss by Miami there (who is 6-7 ATS on the season, 8-5 overall) could make the AFC East a two team race between the Pats and Jets. Really, who is going to pick the Chiefs to beat a team in the thick of a playoff race? I am, because it happens every year. If Kansas City finishes with a mark of .500 or better against the spread, they could be a sleeper team for next season as well. Besides if the Chiefs eliminate the Dolphins, the circle of karma is complete, right?

The Fraud- Denver Broncos

Of all the teams that are currently in playoff position, the one with the worst against the spread record is Denver. Even though they currently lead the AFC West with an 8-5 record and are virtual locks to clinch, that does not necessarily mean good things for the Broncos. The Broncos have a paltry 4-8-1 record against the spread (and the push was courtesy of Ed Hochuli), and the most disturbing trend is that the Broncos are 0-6-1 against the spread at home this season. A division leader who hasn't covered a spread at home one time? A team that plays the Raiders at home can't cover a spread? Remember, the Broncos by winning the division will host a playoff game in the wild card round, and it may be a case where home field advantage (even with that altitude everyone talks about) won't be enough to help them advance. This also sets things up well for the Baltimore Ravens,because if the playoffs ended today and things hold serve, Baltimore's first round playoff match-up will be with...Denver (based on Denver's head to head record against the Jets deciding seeding). Oh , and Baltimore is 10-3 against the spread this year and 9-4 overall. Good luck Bronco fans, you are going to need it.



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