The Minnesota Vikings host the Washington Redskins tonight and are favored by more than two touchdowns on the point spread. A line that opened with the Vikings giving 14 points, has ballooned to Minnesota favored by 16½ points.
Wasn’t there a time in the National Football League that if someone could get more than two touchdowns on the spread they would have the percentage side of the wager?
Well, it is worth noting that between 2000 and 2018, there were 86 games that had one team favored by more than two touchdowns. In those games, the favorite was 83-3 straight-up, but had their point spread mark reduced to 41-42-3. So, taking the underdog or favorite in games that had one team getting more than two touchdowns on the spread, was not a winner on either side when the cost of the wager, the vig, was factored into the proposition.
This year, laying the big numbers has been a winner for bettors. Favorites by more than two touchdowns are a predictable 7-0, and even when the spread is factored in, they own a 5-2 record.
So, are we giving ourselves permission to back the Vikings tonight and laying the lumber?
Minnesota is in an advantageous position in this game given two primary factors. First, while their quarterback, Kirk Cousins, has had trouble beating teams with winning records, he is now 5 and 24 in such roles, he has dominated teams with losing marks, like the Redskins. Second, the Vikings are in a tough race and chasing the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North Division. Green Bay, who are favored this Sunday night in Kansas City, have beaten the Vikings in their first head-to-head meeting this year and have a 6-1 mark compared to the Vikings 5-2.
What that means from a need perspective, is that the Vikings can’t look past Washington while still in need of a win to keep in striking distance of first place in their division.
As for talent, the Vikings are by my numbers a real Super Bowl threat, while Washington is working under their second head coach of the season and only have one win to show through the first seven weeks. That was a one-point victory two weeks ago over the winless Miami Dolphins.
So, is this the season to not worry about huge spreads and just expect the better teams to win?
Seems that books would like us to think that at a time they have captured the money in only 29% of such matchups. Appears the books don’t want to get caught holding Washington money tonight either, which is why they have jacked the point spread up 2½ points since the line opened last Sunday.
Where does that leave us?
If I’m just sitting at the end of the bar and talking to a guy that just ordered another beer, I’ll tell him how I think the Vikings are going to the Super Bowl and perfectly positioned to crush their visitors tonight.
But, alas, I’m not at the bar. I’m in my office where I dedicate myself to find those situations that have both point spread value and motivation on our side.
The books won’t lose these big spreads forever, and I’m not recommending we try to punch in another big favorite for a cover tonight. Still, if I had to make a choice, I would lay the number and hope the books lose again, but in my business, hope is a bad idea.