In Philadelphia last week, none could be convinced reason why the Eagles were underdogs in the NFL divisional playoff round.
Did you know, though the earliest written mention of a spherical Earth comes from ancient Greek sources, there is no proven factual account of how the sphericity of the Earth was discovered. Exactly the same way, it will and not be ever proven to Philadelphia Eagles fans how despite being the #1 NFC seed and playing at home against the Atlanta Falcons with a better record, they deserved being three-point underdogs. Then again, somehow the Minnesota Vikings did pull off an impossible miracle against the New Orleans Saints later last Sunday afternoon. Maybe we should go to New York for a booth review on Plato and Pythagoras theories?
Upon Further Review
Yes, we knew journeyman quarterback Nick Foles was replacing serious MVP candidate Carson Wentz for the Eagles. Yes, we knew the Eagles looked less than impressive in their last two games. Especially in a very uninspiring 6-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the regular season finale. And yes, we know the Atlanta Falcons seemed to have returned to 2017 Super Bowl form after their big playoff win over the Rams in LA. But by all logical and scientific reason did that equate to your #1 seed playing the #6 team being a solid three-point underdog at kick-off time? YES. Nevada and respected offshore sportsbook theory explains why:
If Moses ever left off an 11th commandment it was "thou shall get perfect even game wagering at ten-percent". Translated, a sportsbook's goal in setting every line is obtaining balanced wagering to guarantee a ten percent commission (vigorish) if possible. Of course, that is never realistic in a gambling world of competition and uncertainly.
Technology is largely to blame. Savvy, astute bettors are waiting to pounce upon error in public judgement. And last second online wagering capability makes every game balance impossible. Add on half time wagering along with split second in-game betting to further complicate revenue forecasting. Completely unlike pari-mutuel wagering, it can be and often is risky for any sportsbook to accept highly unbalanced action on one specific side.
Putting up the Atlanta Falcons -3 was the easiest and wisest decision for all sports books to make last week. No official figures are available, but hearsay and the line movement indicated the larger portion of wagering action went on the Falcons, not the Eagles, indicating the public agreed with oddsmaker judgement. When Atlanta failed to score a winning touchdown in the last two minutes to win the game it wouldn't have helped Falcons bettors cover. However, there was a large caveat involved. It would have enabled all teaser bets to cash for both sides. A happy delight to Nevada and offshore wagering sites that they indeed did get it right. Here's hoping all Eagles fans understand it's not about who is the better team, who is respected or any other nonsense. It's just business, baby.
Déjà vu +3
Which brings us to this Sunday and a similar scenario unfolding at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Lo and behold the Eagles find themselves at least a three-point underdog against the miracle Vikings. It's been reported those German Shepperd dog masks made famous by angered Eagles fans are sold out online on Amazon. I'm betting either a new supply will be available by Friday or perhaps a new dog breed appears somewhere, because the line is not going to move too much. In a championship game like this, most of the wagering action will likely be equally divided on the highly popular "3" wagering number. And without the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers involved, even a half point movement is unlikely.
The Most Relevant Irrelevant Extra Point
A much more crucial point was the non-extra point after the unforgettable Vikings touchdown on Sunday. It was as if the spread Gods knew to put up -5 to the final -5.5 on the Vikings at most top online sportsbooks.
With 0.00 on the clock and the Vikes 29-24 victory secured, it was over for fans but certainly not bettors while pandemonium reigned on the field. Under NFL gag order, Fox announcer Joe Buck understood the scenario but strangled himself from mentioning the wagering situation involved. By NFL rule a conversion must be attempted in regular time in a non-overtime period. Unofficially, only NBC's Al Michaels would likely have made a reference by coyly saying something like "we have some extra excitement to spread before we leave the field".
Looking ahead toward this Sunday evening, perhaps the Vikings will defeat the Eagles by exactly three points or more. Please keep in mind that if that should occur it doesn't necessarily mean the Vikes are three points better than the Birds. And should the Eagles win, I told youse that the Earth might be flat and those Greeks missed the call. As Rocky would say "You never been there!!"
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.