UPDATE – Jan 22nd, 10:59pm MST (GMT -7)
I will be risking 8.70pts to win 6.00pts on New England to win the Superbowl. This means I will have Atlanta risk free to win the Superbowl to return 29.30pts or 73% of the original maximum return of my wager. Here is hoping we have a GREAT end to the NFL Season with what could potentially go down as one of the best bets I have ever made. Enjoy!
UPDATE – Jan 21st, 1:06pm MST (GMT -7)
I will be risking 2.00pts to win 3.90pts on Green Bay against Atlanta to protect my 4pt liability on my futures bet. Should Atlanta win, then I would have a liability of 6 with an upside return of 40pts. Should Atlanta face New England in the Superbowl, any hedge options would come at a moneyline price of roughly -175. Should Atlanta face Pittsburgh in the Superbowl, any hedge options would come at a moneyline price of roughly -115. Either way, we are in a VERY favourable position with a TON of upside should the Falcons win at home this week.
To Win Superbowl LI
Bet: Atlanta Falcons
American Odds: +1000
EU Odds: 11.00
Stake: 4.00 pts
To Win: 40.00 pts
As a bettor, I do not care much for futures. I care even less for NFL futures. The reason for that is because rarely can a bettor ever identify value in a futures market. Many bettors without thinking twice will ignore the fact that margins books install into futures markets are bigger than any other markets. It is not rare to find some bookmakers that cater to unsuspecting US bettors, even in Las Vegas, price their NFL futures markets up to 140%. To put that in perspective some of these futures markets have margins that would be equivalent to each side being priced at -220 (1.45) in a head to head matchup. No one in their right mind would consider playing into that market, yet, bettors constantly flock to futures markets without thinking twice.
Long story short, between having stake tied up for an extended period of time and poor margins, futures are not often a great bet.
However, this postseason is quite a different scenario.
The Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys and Packers are all market leaders. These four teams are the four most popular teams in all of American sports. This has caused the top of the NFL futures market to be extremely top heavy, eating up much of the margin and leaving other teams at the bottom of the market priced too long.
I think the mistake many bettors make is approaching futures markets looking only at the end goal. Looking at the league right now, outside of those four teams listed, it is hard to make a strong case for other teams to win the Superbowl. However, this should not stop anyone from looking at these other teams because at the end of the day this is a market and it must respond to and respect results. With that in mind, to have success betting futures, one does not only need to have the winning team at the end, but rather, have a team which is priced too long and will shorten significantly as they advance.
The one team that really stands out to me in the NFC is the Atlanta Falcons. This price at 10/1 right now is way too long in my opinion. Never have I seen a two seed as disrespected as Atlanta. By securing the two seed, depending on how games go this wildcard weekend, Atlanta could see their price shorten significantly before their second round game even kicks off should Seattle or Green Bay lose.
The most likely opponent for Atlanta in the second round is Seattle. Not that any team needs extra motivation to perform in the playoffs, but the Falcons should have that extra bit behind them to beat Seattle after the refs chose not to throw the flag in their match-up earlier in the year, costing Atlanta a field goal attempt to win. Whether they should have won or not is a conversation for another time, but what I took most out of that game was the fight the Falcons showed. It was a back to back road trip after playing Denver in tough conditions the week before. Not only did Atlanta whether the best half Seattle played all season, but they forced them to score late to take the lead. Atlanta is a terrible match-up for Seattle, and it showed. Seattle has about as significant of home/away splits as any playoff team in the league, and with the home field advantage on a fast surface in favour of Atlanta, the Falcons are surely to be a nice sized favourite with a very good chance of winning that game.
Should Atlanta take care of business in their home playoff game in the second round, their price will be cut in half, no higher than 6/1. Assuming they go to Dallas, they will be a 4-5 point underdog, which would present a ton of opportunity to remove any liability on them and run the rest of the way risk free.
With the price dropping down to 6/1 off a win it would also present an opportunity for a significant hedge and a nice profit. Of course, anyone wanting to let the bet run will be in a nice position. Atlanta is the worst match-up for Dallas in the NFC. The Falcons have quietly put up one of the highest scoring seasons in NFL history, and they are as good as any team at taking what opposing defence give them. It just so happens that Dallas gives up the short 5-8 yard pass to anyone wanting to take it, which is where Atlanta can be very effective with tall, strong receivers and accurate Matt Ryan.
Much of the Cowboys success has come this season due to their offence masking their porous defence. Atlanta is the one team in the NFC that can keep pace with Dallas and stay competitive in the game, not letting the Cowboys offence drain them out. With so much uncertainty surrounding the Cowboys in terms of how will rookies Prescott and Elliott handle the extended season and playoff atmosphere, the Falcons are likely to be a very sharp play on conference final weekend should they end up playing Dallas. Of course, should any other scenario happen, the Falcons would end up hosting that conference final game against Green Bay in all likelihood, a team they have already beat at home this season.
The combo of the big four public teams leading the market is allowing for this price to be available at a much bigger price than they should be listed at. The perception on the Falcons is also very good for bettors, as they are flying well under the radar. Atlanta has not been in a big profile game since the end of October. A lot of people may be underestimating just how good this team is seeing them with victories over the Rams, 49ers and Panthers (12-33 combined record) in the three weeks leading into the playoffs. Even though the competition may have been poor, the Falcons have exceeded their opponents average allowance considerably in each game and have proven to be one of the most efficient teams in the league despite what many make of their easy schedule down the stretch.
Since 2000, a team that has finished in the top 3 of net yards per play has competed in the Superbowl each year. This year the only two playoff teams in the Top 3 were Atlanta and Seattle. With my opinion on the matchup with Seattle listed above, Atlanta would be the last remaining team to keep this angle alive for yet another season. Atlanta at 10/1 with arguably the second easiest route in the league to the Superbowl has far too much upside to pass up.