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Win here.

Ian Allan

2023 win totals

Looking for over-under win totals that are out of whack

Poking around with the betting lines and the over-under win totals, I’ve got an early favorite for the 2023 season. Arizona is listed at 5.5 wins, and that one looks awful tempting – the kind of number we should all be getting in on before the general public realizes just how bad the Cardinals are going to be (with the number dropping).

The Cardinals are a disaster, and I don’t think they’re even trying to win. They may be playing with one eye on that No. 1 overall pick next year. It sure seems that way, given their limited offseason, which most recently included releasing DeAndre Hopkins. Had they waited until next week to dump him, they could have moved some of that $22 million cap hit to 2024, but they’re instead choosing to just take the entire hit now.

They’re terrible, and I don’t see a scenario where they would win more than 5 games.

But let’s take a step back and start at the beginning.

I thought it would be interesting, given that betting lines exist for all 272 regular-season games, to play out the season using those numbers. That is, a 10-point favorite is a lot more likely to win than a 2-point underdog. So we use those current odds to get a sense of how the season should play out.

I started by pulling the results from games of the last three years. I used the lines as posted at pro-football-reference, then totaled up the wins and losses. Teams that were 6-point favorites, for example, won about 68 percent of the time (24-11-1). Teams that were 3.5-point favorites won 60 percent of the team (47-31-0).

Using those numbers, I settled on the following win percentages. Note that the next-to-last number shows a smoothed approximation, using common sense and surrounding data. (With 1-point favorites, for example, they’ve actually had a losing record over the last three years – 17-23 – I flipped that around to give them slightly a better-than-average chance of winning.)

WIN-LOSS RECORDS / POINT SPREADS
LineGWLTPctProj
-1.04017230.425.530
-1.53419150.559.559
-2.02512121.500.564
-2.57442320.568.568
-3.010858500.537.587
-3.57847310.603.603
-4.04019210.475.615
-4.52717100.630.635
-5.0171250.706.655
-5.5241491.604.660
-6.03624111.681.680
-6.54534110.756.755
-7.05339131.745.815
-7.5393270.821.825
-8.0131120.846.835
-8.59630.667.845
-9.01212001.000.855
-9.5161420.875.865
-10.0282620.929.875
-10.5131120.846.885
-11.011650.545.900
-11.55410.800.910
-12.599001.000.920
-13.09720.778.930
-13.566001.000.940
-14.055001.000.950
-14.56420.667.960
-15.01010.000.970
-15.522001.000.980
-16.022001.000.990
-16.544001.0001.000
-17.022001.0001.000
-17.52110.5001.000
-18.011001.0001.000
-20.011001.0001.000

Using the above numbers, we can then plug them into the 2023 season. Everywhere a team is a 6-point favorite, for example, it receives .680 of a win. Everywhere it’s favored by only 3.5 points, it receives slightly less (.603 of a win). And the underdogs in those games receives whatever portion of the win is left (.320 and .397 in those cases).

If we follow that process for all 272 games, assigning 272 wins and 272 losses, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Philadelphia project to win the most games. Arizona, Houston and Tampa Bay project to lose the most. That’s the consensus opinion of the betting public.

For the point spreads on this one, I used the numbers currently posted by Draft Kings.

EXPECTED WINS/LOSSES
TeamWLPct
Kansas City11.25.8.659
Cincinnati10.76.3.631
Philadelphia10.56.5.616
San Francisco10.46.6.611
Buffalo10.36.7.607
Baltimore9.77.3.570
Jacksonville9.77.3.568
Miami9.57.5.557
Dallas9.57.5.557
NY Jets9.57.5.556
Detroit9.27.8.540
LA Chargers9.17.9.536
Cleveland9.08.0.527
Seattle8.98.1.526
New Orleans8.88.2.519
Pittsburgh8.68.4.508
Minnesota8.58.5.502
Denver8.38.7.489
Atlanta8.18.9.477
Green Bay7.99.1.467
New England7.99.1.463
Chicago7.79.3.453
NY Giants7.79.3.451
Carolina7.69.4.447
Tennessee7.49.6.434
LA Rams7.39.7.429
Las Vegas7.29.8.425
Washington7.19.9.415
Indianapolis6.910.1.406
Tampa Bay6.610.4.385
Houston6.410.6.374
Arizona5.012.0.297

And as our final step, we can then compare those expected wins and losses against the current over/under win totals for each team. This allows us to see the discrepancies in the market (where the sum of the 17 games for each team doesn’t match the overall published total).

Circling back to Arizona. The published over-under is 5.5 games. The game-by-game odds (using those probabilities from past point spreads) indicates Arizona should win 5.0 games (which I still think is too high). So the data supports that it makes sense to bet the under on Arizona winning 5.5 games.

Using this data, there are actually seven other over-under win totals that are even better than Arizona’s. That surprises me. The two that are over a full game off are the Ravens and 49ers. The betting lines indicate that the Ravens should win 9.7 games, but their over-under is only 8.5. They should win a game more than expected. The 49ers, meanwhile, win only 10.4 games if we use the 17 individual pieces of the schedule. But they’re listed at 11.5 wins – over a game too high.

Betting lines indicate it also makes sense to bet the over on Houston (5.5 games), Atlanta (7.5), and if we want to get into margins of less than a half a game, Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Colts.

The composite betting lines suggest we should be betting the under on the win total of the Giants (8.5), Bengals (11.5) and Saints (9.5).

EXPECTED WINS VS. OVER/UNDER TOTALS
TeamWLPctO/UDiff
Baltimore9.77.3.5708.5-1.18
Houston6.410.6.3745.5-.85
Atlanta8.18.9.4777.5-.60
Cleveland9.08.0.5278.5-.45
Seattle8.98.1.5268.5-.45
Green Bay7.99.1.4677.5-.43
Indianapolis6.910.1.4066.5-.40
New England7.99.1.4637.5-.37
Chicago7.79.3.4537.5-.20
Detroit9.27.8.5409-.17
Jacksonville9.77.3.5689.5-.15
Pittsburgh8.68.4.5088.5-.14
Carolina7.69.4.4477.5-.09
Tampa Bay6.610.4.3856.5-.05
Minnesota8.58.5.5028.5-.03
Philadelphia10.56.5.61610.5.03
Miami9.57.5.5579.5.03
Dallas9.57.5.5579.5.03
NY Jets9.57.5.5569.5.04
Tennessee7.49.6.4347.5.12
Buffalo10.36.7.60710.5.18
Denver8.38.7.4898.5.19
LA Rams7.39.7.4297.5.21
Las Vegas7.29.8.4257.5.27
Kansas City11.25.8.65911.5.29
LA Chargers9.17.9.5369.5.39
Washington7.19.9.4157.5.44
Arizona5.012.0.2975.5.46
New Orleans8.88.2.5199.5.68
Cincinnati10.76.3.63111.5.77
NY Giants7.79.3.4518.5.83
San Francisco10.46.6.61111.51.11

Let’s bookmark this whole concept. I am making a note on the calendar to come back on June 1 next year and see how these prospects fared. If we get a bunch of hits, we’ll try to develop this concept further. For now, just me down as a big under on Arizona.

—Ian Allan

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