The early Week 10 NFL betting trends 

November, 8, 2011

Every Tuesday during the NFL regular season, Dave Tuley of will provide an update on the Hilton SuperContest.

LAS VEGAS -- The Hilton SuperContest is more than halfway over with nine of the NFL's 17 weeks in the books (more specifically the Hilton SuperBook).

We continue our two-week midseason report with a discussion of how the point spread is the great equalizer. This isn't an easy game. No one bettor or trend wins forever. Everything regresses to the mean. I have more clichés, but I'm on a word count.

Even though the SuperContest is supposed to include the sharpest of the sharp, battling with oddsmakers always brings the overall results back to 50/50. Through nine weeks, the top five consensus plays -- based on the most selected teams taken each week by the record 517 entries -- are 22-20-3 against the spread against SuperContest lines or exactly the 52.38 percent needed to break even against the 10 percent vig in the real world. The consensus of every NFL game played so far is 65-60-5 (52 percent, or just below break-even). All plays by all players are 8,983-8,731-771 (50.7 percent).

None of this should be surprising, as oddsmakers have leveled the playing field after some peaks and valleys early in the season. A lot of sharp bettors like underdogs, and they were 26-19-3 (57.8 percent) after three weeks as graded against the Consensus Closing Lines that I use on my website. After nine weeks, 'dogs are now 64-60-6 (51.6 percent). Even the home underdogs that I've lauded many times in this column have leveled off at 23-21-2 (52.3 percent).

The most extreme example of a trend regressing to the mean this season is NFL over/unders, and I'm talking about game totals, not season wins. After the lockout, everyone was spouting the clichéd "defenses will be ahead of the offense" mantra and that scoring would be down with offenses out of sync from lack of practice due to the late free-agent signing period. Overs went 12-3-1 in Week 1 and 11-5 in Week 2 for a combined 23-8-1 (74.2 percent), and everyone was fighting in line to bet more overs. After nine weeks, overs now lead 64-63-3 (50.5 percent), meaning those who jumped in after Week 2 have seen those overs go 41-55-2 (42.7 percent).

If you learn just one thing from this column, let it be that when you see a gaudy trend, be wary of jumping on the bandwagon too late. By the time a trend gets discovered by handicappers or the media and gets passed around, it's a good bet that oddsmakers know about it, too, and have factored it into the line. The trend is much likelier to be a loser going forward. If you didn't go to the wedding, don't go to the funeral.

Now back to our regularly scheduled column.

In the history of the SuperContest, there are stories of people who went on late-season runs to win the title, but usually the champion is a handicapper who was among those who got off to fast starts and was able to resist the regression to the mean as the rest dropped back to the pack.

Dave Tuley

ESPN Staff Writer
Dave Tuley has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website,