Betting lines are used as a reference point by bettors to gauge the strength of a team or a player in the eyes of the betting public. The line movements over the course of a football season are often a good indicator of whether a team or player is becoming more or less popular as the season wears on.
The betting lines are usually set by a bookmaker before the start of the season and are adjusted at the beginning of each week as NFL games are being played. For instance, if a team starts the season 2-0 and then loses its first two games by a combined total of 12 points, the betting line on that team would likely be adjusted slightly downward.
The goal, of course, is to get the best possible line without going above or below the money line. That way, if a bettor wins, he or she keeps the profit; and if the bettor loses, he or she doesn’t lose more than what they risked. Of course, this can vary from book to book depending on the rules and regulations of the bookmaker.
Was It All Worth It?
One of the most intriguing questions to follow the Bears’ victory over the Lions last Sunday was this: Was it all worth it?
Going into the game, the betting line for the Bears was -3.5 points. By the end of the game, the Bears’ odds were moved to -3, the same as the beginning of the game. Was this an important adjustment by the bookmakers? Was this game really that close? And did the public really make a drastic change in their opinion of the Bears after last week’s game?
Before we get into the answer to that question, let’s examine a few other angles around the Bears’ big win.
Early Warning For The Season
With one game gone, it’s fair to say that the Bears’ season is already a wash. It’s only halftime, but the team has played poorly thus far, going 1-2, with the two wins coming against the Lions and Vikings. Those two wins, however, are more than enough to indicate that Chicago is a much better team than their 1-2 record would suggest. Going into last week’s game, the Bears’ average starting position in every game this season was as an -0.5-point favorite. The Lions were the only team to keep the Bears closer than that, as the over/under for the game was set at 57 points, which is exactly what the Lions scored. The Bears didn’t score a single point in the second half and lost by seven.
Crosstown Clash Is One Of The Clichés Of The NFL
One of the things that makes the NFL so great is the rivalries that are established between the different teams. Unfortunately, as many fans know too well, the rivalry between the Lions and Bears is one of the worst in the league. Since the teams share a metro area, there’s always been a certain degree of competition, and tension between them. Last year, for example, was the first time in many years that the two teams didn’t fight in the offseason or during the regular season. The reason was simple: The Lions didn’t have a chance this year. Despite their best efforts, they finished with seven wins and five losses, losing the final three games by a total of 17 points. The Bears had an almost identical season, finishing with seven wins and five losses, and losing the final three games by a total of 18 points. That’s a total of 35 points the Bears won by in 2017, and if you’ll remember, the line on those three games was -3.5, +3 and then +3.5. So, as you can see, there’s been lots of movement in the line. If the Bears had won all three of those games by a combined total of 13 points, the line would have moved into the positive.
One Of The Best Finishes In NFL History
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a team that was once considered one of the worst in the league before becoming one of the best ever. In 2011, the St. Louis Rams finished with just three wins and 11 losses, earning them the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. When the Rams announced that they were selecting quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, the betting public responded with -7 points as the over/under on his first start. However, in four starts that year, Bradford threw for 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions. During that span, the betting line shifted to +2.5, with the over/under moving from 47.5 to 48.5 points. After four games in 2012, the line on Bradford was moved to +3 and then stayed there for the rest of the season. In Week 7, against the Eagles, the line was moved to +6 as Bradford threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns. In Week 16, against the Redskins, the line was moved to +4 as he threw for a then-NFL-record 503 yards and five touchdowns.
While his stats weren’t anything to write home about in 2018, he still managed to have one of the best statistical seasons by a quarterback in NFL history. The Rams went 13-3, earning them the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and giving them an opportunity to avenge last year’s loss to the Bears.
How Did The Line Move?
Going into the game, the betting line for the Bears was -3.5 points. By the end of the game, the Bears’ odds were moved to -3, which was the same as the beginning of the game. This is significant because it indicates that the bettors didn’t see the game the way the public did. Going into last week’s game, the Bears’ average starting position in every game this season was an -0.5-point favorite. The Lions were the only team to keep the Bears closer than that, as the over/under for the game was set at 57 points, which is exactly what the Lions scored. The Bears didn’t score a single point in the second half and lost by seven.
What Changed The Line?
What changed the line the most came in the offseason, when the Bears traded for tight end Dante Fairbanks and signed offensive lineman Eric Kush. The Bears’ offense, particularly the passing game, was considered one of the worst in the league a year ago. Fairbanks, however, broke out in 2018, catching 25 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns. The addition of Fairbanks moved the line in the right direction, as the Bears went from -14.5 to -6 in their first game. That’s an indication that the public saw something they liked about the new-look Bears offense.
The Bears also signed offensive lineman Cornelius Washington and safety Adrian Amos this off-season, giving their defense a boost. In just two games, Washington has started at left tackle for the Bears and allowed just one sack. Amos, who the Bears picked up after he was cut by the Chargers, has started four games this year and recorded four interceptions. The Bears defense as a whole is giving up just 12.5 points per game, which is much closer to where they should be compared to last year’s 22 points per game.
Overall, the Bears came into last week’s game a -3.5-point favorite and left a 6-point underdog. While that certainly moves the line in the right direction, it doesn’t mean the Bears are going to get all the points just because they were the favorites to lose. It’s still going to be very difficult for the Bears to win this game just because they’re the underdogs. The question is, will they come close?