You’re about to place a bet on the big game, but you aren’t exactly sure how much that one point will be worth. You look at the betting line for inspiration and notice that the New England Patriots are listed at -140 while the Atlanta Falcons are +140. What does this mean? Let’s dive into the nitty gritty of sports betting to find out.
How To Read A Betting Line
While it’s not required that you do so, you’ll find that most bookmakers offer sports bets in a way that makes it easy for you to understand. The lines are usually presented in a way that makes them easy to understand, yet are a bit of a mystery. For example, take a look at this line for the 2017 NFL season:
New England Patriots (-140) at Atlanta Falcons (+140)
This is certainly easy to understand. The Falcons are a team that you’re more likely to win, so they’re given a betting line of +140. The Patriots, on the other hand, are a team that you’re less likely to win, so they’re given a betting line of -140. Simple enough, right?
Now, if you were to look at the same line for the 2019 NFL season, things change a bit. The Patriots are now significantly better than they were in 2017, so they’ve moved up to +150. However, the Falcons are still one of the best teams in the NFL, so they’re listed at +140:
New England Patriots (-150) at Atlanta Falcons (+140)
Looking for a way to figure out how much the New England Patriots are actually worth? Take a look at their exact win-loss record for the last three years:
2016: 9-7 (45.45%)
2017: 14-4 (67.22%)
2018: 11-5 (61.11%)
The Patriots have been steadily improving over the past three years, and while it’s too soon to tell if they’ll make the jump from excellent to great, they’re clearly headed in the right direction.
Why Are The Patriots Worth More Than The Falcons?
Well, for starters, the Patriots won the Super Bowl in the 2018 NFL season. They’re also one of the most successful teams in NFL history, having won 14 playoff games the past 14 years including three Super Bowls. Furthermore, the Patriots have historically been strong contenders year in and year out. Finally, the Patriots have a very strong and well-known coach in Bill Belichick. It’s no wonder they’re worth more than the Falcons: they’ve had more success and are more proven. Essentially, the betting line is a reflection of how much value you’ll get from betting on the game. In this case, the Patriots are more valuable than the Falcons because they offer more betting value. It’s as simple as that.
What About The Underdog?
If you were to look at a betting line for the 2017 season, you’d see that the favorite is given a line of -160 while the underdog is given +120. Which team do you think is more likely to make the playoffs in the 2017 NFL season?
The Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, or Philadelphia Eagles?
The Eagles certainly have the talent, but it’s the Ravens or Bears who look like the clear favorites on paper. The reason for this is that both the Ravens and the Bears have been repeatedly underestimated by the experts, and it’s showing in their results. The Eagles have a new head coach in Doug Pederson, but he’ll have to prove himself in the NFL playoffs before we can really trust him to lead this team to the promised land.
So there you have it. The answer to the question “What Does a -140 Line Mean?” is that it means that you’re almost certainly going to win the bet, but it could be a little bit of a struggle. On the other hand, a team that is listed at +140 is a good bet to win the game, and you’ll enjoy an upset victory more than if the game was closer. Bookmakers know which games their customers are more likely to have fun with, so they adjust the lines accordingly. It’s all about the math, and in this case, the math says that the New England Patriots are more valuable than the Atlanta Falcons.