We think we know what will happen.
That’s how suckers are created.
We think we know what will happen — and we almost never do.
Watch an NFL game — the same game — eight or nine times. Watch different position groupings each time through. Watch in different formats (broadcast version; condensed version; coaches film). And the more times you watch, the more you begin to realize that this one game could have played out a thousand different ways if a thousand little things had gone differently.
We don’t know what will happen — and the sooner we acknowledge this, the more we begin to open pathways to the money that can be made.
Now, before we go any further down this path, let’s take a step back.
Do we really not know what will happen?
Of course not! There is plenty we know — and that’s half the beauty of the NFL Edge: we uncover what is likeliest to happen in every game on the slate so that you don’t have to spend 40 or 50 hours each week doing that yourself. But the other half of the beauty (the half that can really begin to line our pockets with profits) is the fact that we use the NFL Edge to not only explore what is likeliest to happen in a given game, but to also examine the tributaries that are less likely in a game, yet are still very feasible. And it’s funny: I’ve been told that we are lowering our economic ceiling on OWS — that we scare away some would-be subscribers — by taking this approach. People want the comfort of a “can’t-miss” bet, or a “can’t-miss” play. They want the “lock of the week,” the Thor’s Hammer of Definite Certainty.
They want to be suckers.
And that’s fine.
But we want to know what we don’t know. We want to find the gray area — the nuanced approach; we want to learn to process information without judgement, because that’s how money is made.
I was thinking about this the other day while doing a bit of research on win total props for NFL teams this year.
I was thinking, “It’s hard to win a game in the NFL. It’s a lot harder than most people realize.” So many little things have to go right for the better team to win, because most teams in the NFL are more evenly-matched than it appears on the surface. An early turnover or touchdown can reshape an entire game — canceling out 90% of what everyone “knew” going in. Good teams lose all the time, and bad teams win.
It’s difficult to win 10 games in an NFL season. In fact…
In 2016, if you had taken the “Under” on every team with a preseason win total of 9.5 or higher, you would have gone 7-3 with these bets.
Wait. There’s more.
In 2017, if you had taken the “Under” on every team with a preseason win total of 9.5 or higher, you would have gone 4-3 with these bets.
Wait. There’s more.
In 2018, if you had taken the “Under” on every team with a preseason win total of 9.5 or higher, you would have gone 5-2 with these bets.
Wait. There’s still more.
In 2019, if you had taken the “Under” on every team with a preseason win total of 9.5 or higher, you would have gone 4-3 with these bets.
Across four seasons, that’s an outlandish 64.5% win total on your bets. And if you had adjusted your bets one step further by betting on the superb coaching staffs of the Patriots and Steelers (removing each of those teams from the menu each time they popped up on the 9.5 or higher win list), you would have gone 19-6 with these bets, for an impossible win percentage of 76%.
As we approach the start of the season, it’s time to gear up for five glorious months of adding great heaps to the pile of “things we definitely know.” And along the way, it’s time to continue paying attention to all the things we don’t know — all the things nobody knows (even though they pretend to) — coming out ahead of the game as we allow our nuanced understanding of the NFL to dictate where our money goes.
Note :: there are no teams on that list whose win totals look egregiously off. In fact, given what we know, most of them look pretty spot-on. But if there’s one thing we know, it’s that a lot of unknowns will happen throughout the year (especially a year like this!), wrecking expectations for a number of these teams.
Want to know what JM is seeing with the Giants and Jets?
(Once you have access, you’ll find the rest of this article — as well as our prop-betting primer, our 90-page NFL preview // Best Ball Guide, and more — through the “NFL :: 2020” section on the home page!)
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