Spot Betting Suggests This Game Will Be Close


Any Addicts here bet on sports?

I don’t. So if the Missouri Gaming Commission asks for me, tell them I’m not home and change the subject.

But knowing more than a little about it, the mechanics of how to place your bets can precipitously help you in predicting the outcomes of football games.  The not-so-hidden secret about it is that amateurs and people who are simply casual gamblers will place bets based on how good the teams are that are playing each other.

A far more accurate way of placing bets is a trick called “spot betting.” Instead of measuring up Team A against Team B in terms of talent, you bet on the games based on the “spots” both teams are in. You are still betting that one team is better than the other, but the actual talent on the field is just one of many different aspects of what leads to a win.

Let’s explore this further.

If I were spot betting on Sunday’s afternoon game featuring our beloved Kansas City Chiefs against the rival hated kind of disliked remotely ill considered indifferently-existing San Diego Chargers, AND I’M NOT, I would definitely bet on the Chiefs to cover the 15-point spread.  I believe that the Chiefs, clearly the inferior team this week, are probably not going to win this game, but be on the lookout: this Chiefs team will be in a position to take this game, and my odds point to them losing by only a score.

My reasoning doesn’t rest with the talent on the field.  It rests with the spot we’re betting on.

More after the jump.

In order to actually be better than the other team, you must play better. It’s not enough for Vincent Jackson to simply be better than Travis Daniels. He’s actually got to fully invest his energy and focus to shake Daniels’ coverage, and get open. That’s how you win in professional sports, and that’s why championship teams are always intensely focused.

So let’s study some of the problems the Chargers have with this Week 3 potential nightmare with the Chiefs:

1.  They just lost their Super Bowl of September against the Patriots.

The Chargers have had a pretty dull September lined up.  They will have faced the Vikings, the Chiefs (which is now far less interesting), and the Dolphins.  That’s Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel, and Chad Henne.  That’s Leslie Frazier, Todd Haley, and Tony Sparano.  Not exactly the stuff epic dreams are made of, especially when those dreams are expected to land in the Super Bowl.

But the one exception are the Patriots.  As if squaring off on the team of the last decade wasn’t enough for the Bolts to prime their strongest intensity for last week, they had the added boost of taking on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Common sense dictates that they treated last week’s game like their Super Bowl of September. Losing a game like that can often lead to a deflation next week. Especially against a team believed to be as bad as the Chiefs.

2.  The law of averages favors the Chiefs, two times over.

The Chiefs have two advantages here. First of all, unless we’re going to argue that the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs are one of the worst teams in NFL history, it’s incredibly unlikely that they’re going to lose many games by the margins they lost the first two games by. Even the 0-16 Detroit Lions lost more heartbreakers than blowouts.

The Chiefs aren’t just coming off two blowouts, they’re coming off a phenomenal blowout by the Chargers last season.  All matchups are not created equal.  This is professional sports, and blowouts are the exception, not the rule.

3.  The emotional advantage is totally on KC’s side.

The Chiefs are a team with a fair amount of talent (more on that later) and they aren’t a complete mess of a franchise like the Oakland Raiders or Cincinnati Bengals.  They’ve got a lot of good players with heads on their shoulders, and history suggests that they’re probably pretty pissed off about being considered to be such a lousy team (in Andrew Luck contention!), and now they’re squaring off against a Super Bowl contender before this season is too far lost. I’d be expecting a great effort with decent results.

The Chargers, on the other hand, probably don’t give two licks about the Chiefs right now.

4.  Todd Haley’s Chiefs compete after tough road losses.

Arguably the toughest losses the Chiefs suffered last year in the regular season: at the Colts, at the Broncos, and at the Chargers. They were blown out of all three games.

They were 2-1 in the weeks following these losses, and the Texans had to put forth a Herculean comeback to keep them from being a perfect 3-0. This is a trend worth minding.

5.  Teams that aren’t total disaster cases like the Raiders tend to tense up and play up and beyond their best when they lose their franchise player(s).

There have been too many examples in Chiefs franchise history alone that illustrate that a team can play up beyond its ability if it loses its franchise player so long as it has a non-disasterous locker room.

The Eric Berry injury was a tough loss, but losing Jamaal Charles took the air out of the team’s balloon.  The upcoming weeks will be a miniature resurgence for the team, I would bet, as the season isn’t yet lost and this particular locker room is too proud to let people write them off as coasting on the rocket feet of Charles and Berry.

6.  The Chiefs aren’t as bad as everybody (including themselves) are making them out to be.

The Chiefs still have a slightly above-average offensive line with Branden Albert manning the left tackle position better than we’ve seen since his rookie season. They still have Dwayne Bowe.  Steve Breaston is still a capable receiver if he ever gets a rhythm down with Matt Cassel.  We’re getting Johnny Baldwin back soon.  McCluster’s averaging 8 yards a carry.

Tyson Jackson is playing well. Kelly Gregg not so much, and Glenn Dorsey is looking awful but he’s still got talent. The linebackers are largely doing their job, and Tamba Hali still looks brilliant. We’re getting a fantastic amount of playing time for Justin Houston and Cam Sheffield, who are predictably struggling–which is necessary for them to progress. Our safety play is an abomination, but our corners are still at full strength.

This is not a bottom-of-the-league team.

Yet.

Now, that said, the Chiefs do have one factor going against them and their chances at keeping this one close, with a trend that’s developed over the past four games (home versus Raiders, home versus Ravens, home versus Bills, visiting Detroit):

Even with all this going for them, the Chiefs are insanely poorly conditioned, and their youthful inexperience is prone to fourth quarter blowouts.

The Chiefs are a better team than all these blowouts are illustrating, but it does show that they are prone to blowouts. Part of that is Todd Haley, as Paddy has written.  Part of that is lousy conditioning, as the Chiefs wear down.

And part of that is simply a lack of mental strength that happens when you’re on a young team. It’s hard for younger players in this league to remain focused for a full game.

My Bottom Line

The Chiefs are going to look at lot better against the Chargers, but they’re still a Bottom 5 team with Cassel at the helm and no Charles/Berry.

Expect a rebound this week, but also expect the Chiefs to merely keep it close, not win. Also, don’t expect the Chiefs to vault out of the running for Andrew Luck yet. I’d say it’s still unlikely at this point, but it’s still a reasonable chance.

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