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Hilton releases Win Totals

Hilton releases Win Totals

Hilton releases Win Totals
April 23, 2007

The Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday night released NFL season win totals for 2007.

New England is anticipated to be the top achiever with a projected 11 victories (over EVEN, under minus $1.20), while Oakland is expected to dwell in the league's cellar with just five wins (over minus $1.30, under plus $1.10).

Teams play 16-game regular-season schedules, with each club receiving a bye week during the 17-week campaign.

The season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 6, with New Orleans meeting reigning Super Bowl champion Indianapolis and concludes with one game on Dec. 29 and a full slate on Dec. 30.

Wild card contests will be played Jan. 5 and 6, 2008, followed be divisional playoffs on Jan 12-13 and conference championships on Jan 20.

Glendale, Ariz., will host the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Here's a complete breakdown on other projected victory totals, which sports gamblers eagerly await each spring:

10 1/2 -- Indianapolis (over minus, under plus $1.15) and San Diego (over minus $1.40, under plus $1.20).

10 -- Chicago (over minus $1.20, under EVEN).

9 1/2 -- Denver (over plus $1.10, under minus $1.30).

9 -- Baltimore (over minus $1.30, under plus $1.10), Carolina (over plus $1.20, under minus $1.40), Dallas (over minus $1.20, under EVEN), Cincinnati (over minus $1.30, under plus $1.10), Pittsburgh (over plus $1.05, under minus $1.25), Philadelphia (over minus $1.20, under EVEN), New Orleans over EVEN, under minus $1.20), Seattle (over plus $1.10, under minus $1.30).

8 1/2 -- Jacksonville (over minus $1.60, under plus $1.40).

8 -- Kansas City (over plus $1.30, under minus $1.50), New York Giants (over minus $1.20, under EVEN), New York Jets (over plus $1.40, under minus $1.60).

7 1/2 -- Washington (over plus $1.15, under minus $1.35), Green Bay (over plus $1.30, under minus $1.50), St. Louis (over EVEN), under minus $1.20), Atlanta (over minus $1.65, under plus $1.45).

7-- Arizona (over minus $1.40, under plus $1.20), Tennessee (over EVEN, under minus $1.20), Tampa Bay (over minus $1.10, under minus $1.10), San Francisco (over plus $1.15, under minus $1.35), Miami (over minus $1.10, under minus $1.10).

6 1/2 -- Minnesota (over minus $1.30, under plus $1.10), Houston (over plus $1.15, under minus $1.35).

6 -- Detroit (over plus $1.15, under minus $1.35), Buffalo (over minus $1.15, under minus $1.05)..

5 1/2 -- Cleveland (over minus $1.50, under plus $1.30).

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Re: Hilton releases Win Totals

Ramifications of the 2007 NFL Schedule
by Robert Ferringo - 04/24/2007

Alright boys and girls, the 2007 National Football League schedule was released with much fanfare a few short weeks ago. I've reserved comment until now because I actually took some time to pour over the match-ups and meanings of this carefully crafted plan for the fall. I'm not here to tell you to mark your calendar for annual Regular Season Super Bowl between Indianapolis and New England like some simple hack. But instead I'm here to point out some teams that have more (or less) favorable situations than the public is giving them credit for.

The preseason strength of schedule ratings aren't a set-in-stone indicator of which team will end up playing the most tedious slate the following season. It's like a weather report - trust it at your own risk. Last preseason Cincinnati was set to endure the toughest road in the league, but their actual SOS ended up being 12th. New Orleans had the No. 3 SOS heading into the year but the 27th heading out. The preseason rankings aren't a complete waste of time, but it certainly wasn't a perfectly accurate indicator last season.

However, there was still a lot that could be gleaned from the rankings before the regular season began. Last year I predicted that Chicago was going to advance to the Super Bowl in part because their schedule was a cakewalk. I figured they would win 13-14 games, ensuring home field advantage, and that it was incredibly unlikely that they would lose two straight Divisional Round games at Soldiers Field. After that I just assumed that there was no other dominant NFC team, and certainly not one good enough to go into Chicago in January and tear down the Bears.

I also predicted that the Bengals wouldn't return to the playoffs - drawing the ire of Cincy fans everywhere - and that the Giants wouldn't finish above .500, partially because depth concerns would be exploited by the most difficult schedules in the league. These preseason schemas had a direct impact on my wagering throughout the season and helped me get off to a great start in the NFL's first month.

Obviously there is something to be learned from analyzing a team's preseason schedule and here are a few things I noticed about the NFL's 2007 architecture:

1) The Titans are screwed.

This is a theme I'm going to touch on more as we get closer to the start of the season, but if this schedule is any indicator, it looks like Vince Young's sophomore campaign is going to be a letdown to those predicting a playoff run.

Tennessee drew the league's fifth-toughest schedule according to last year's records. Even if you throw out four grueling games against Super Bowl champ Indianapolis and dark horse Jacksonville, seven of their other 11 games are against teams that finished .500 or above. They have trips to New Orleans, Denver, Cincinnati and Kansas City as well as home games against Atlanta, Carolina and San Diego. That's bad news - and when they drop back to 6-10 this year it's going to have nothing to do with the Madden Jinx.

2) I hope the Jets didn't get used to the playoffs.

New York starts the season by hosting AFC favorite New England and it doesn't get much easier from there. Five of their first eight games are against teams .500 or better and the other three are interdivision rivalry games with Buffalo and Miami. As if that start wasn't enough, four of their last six games are on the road. The Herm Bowl takes place in Week 17 but I have a feeling the only thing the Jets will be playing for by then is pride.

3) There's no place like dome.

One of my favorite December angles is always dome teams leaving the cozy confines of their home stadiums to battle the elements in cold-weather climates. There are six dome teams in the league, and of their 30 total December games only four of them are in harsh atmospheres. Three of those games - New Orleans at Chicago, Minnesota at Denver and Detroit at Green Bay - take place in Week 17 when starters may or may not even be suiting up.

4) Let's hear it for the 'Boys.

Dallas has one of the quirkiest schedules of recent memory. They have three short weeks, two Thursday games, a random Monday nighter in Buffalo, three straight home games to close November and three of their last four on the road in December. It's a whirlwind. Also, three of their Sunday games are primetime 8 p.m. kickoffs. It's a bit too early to tell if their schedule will be that difficult from their opponent's standpoint - who knows how good the East will be and they get a favorable draw against the NFC North - but just the fact that they won't be in a normal routine all year has to work against them.

5) The Patriots are the new Bears.

What I mean by this is that last year's Chicago and this year's New England are both teams that would have been devastating even before getting the gift of a great schedule. This year's setup - maybe more than the bevy of free agent acquisitions - is what makes the Pats Super Bowl favorites in the AFC like last year's paved the way for the Bears in the NFC.

According to last season's records the Pats have the league's third-toughest schedule. Um, they don't. The AFC East is still one of the worst divisions in the league and after Nov. 4 they don't have to travel further west than Buffalo. This slate has 13-3 written all over it.

6) Speaking of which, Chicago isn't in Kansas anymore.

After their gift-wrapped 2006 schedule the Bears have an increasingly trying test this season. They bang heads with three playoff teams (San Diego, Kansas City, Dallas) right out of the gate and preceding two divisional road games. Four of their last six are in Soldiers Field, but five of their last seven come against teams that finished .500 or above this season. Their over/under for wins on the season will likely be 11.0. The 'under' is a lock as I see 10-6 staring them in the face.

7) Three for the road.

Washington closes the season with three consecutive road games. Not good. That's after hosting Chicago and with two of those three roadies against division rivals. Jacksonville also has a stretch during the season where they play three consecutive as the visitor. Fortunately for the Jags all three of the games (at Tampa, at New Orleans, at Tennessee) are short flights.

8) The Broncos will break out of the gate. Again.

Denver begins the season with five of their first seven coming in Mile High Stadium. Of course, that means that four of their last six are on the road but we'll worry about that later. With a new opening day starter the home crowd will be imperative to ensuring a fast start. Denver has also been one of the NFL's premier September/October teams over the past five years, going 24-6 in their first six games of the season during that time.

9) Not much longer before Tuesday Night Football takes the nation by storm.

Why not? We have football games on every other day of the week, so why not get it going on Tuesday? If divorce rates inch up over the next few years you can at least partially blame the NFL, which has taken its game from Sunday and Monday and spread it out over Saturdays and Thursdays throughout the final month of the season.

I will say that the NFL did a fantastic job at setting up the schedule late in the year. They added the Saturday and Thursday games - which I could do without but I don't mind - without putting any of the teams in a really bad position as far as travel plans go. The same goes for the Giants-Dolphins game in London. With the setup of the bye weeks as well as home games before short weeks the NFL has done everything it can to maintain competitiveness while branching out to absorb not only other countries but other days of the week.

10) Week 1 Best Bets.

You didn't think I'd leave you without some early - that's four-plus months early, but who cares I like Denver (-2.5) over Buffalo, Jacksonville (-1) over Tennessee, San Diego (-6) over Chicago, and Pittsburgh (-7.5) over Cleveland. Those are my own projected lines and these are the strongest favorites I could find. God I can't wait for football…

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Re: Hilton releases Win Totals

Jeff Haney explains why the coming NFL draft doesn't matter much to those predicting victory totals for teams

With apologies to Calvin Johnson, JaMarcus Russell and especially Mel Kiper Jr., this weekend's NFL draft probably won't have much of an effect on how the 2007 pro football season plays out.

The best indicator of this, for my money, is that Las Vegas oddsmakers have not only already released betting lines on the first week of NFL games, but also individual team regular-season victory totals for 2007.

The Las Vegas Hilton sports book posted its team-by-team win totals Sunday - nearly a week before the highly hyped draft - with the New England Patriots (12-4 last year) and their projected total of 11 victories topping the list. Oddsmakers attached the lowest number on the board, five wins, to the Oakland Raiders (2-14 a year ago).

As a starting point in analyzing NFL season win totals, it's hard to beat a method embraced by offshore oddsmaker Simon Noble that uses the number of points scored and allowed by each team in the previous season to determine whether the team overachieved or underachieved in terms of its win-loss record.

Another way to put it is how "lucky" or "unlucky" the team got.

The formula is a football version of the old baseball Pythagorean method popularized years ago by author and statistician Bill James. According to Noble, the football equation is a team's points scored squared divided by the sum of points scored squared and points allowed squared. That result is multiplied by 16, the number of regular-season games, to yield a baseline number.

Noble suggests modifying the baseline number by moving it toward the league mean of eight victories. If the baseline number is between 5 1/2 and 10 1/2, adjust it a half-game toward eight; otherwise adjust it a full game toward eight, according to Noble.

Roster changes involving veteran players can then be taken into account, with the draft - given its emphasis on young, inexperienced players - playing a minor role at best in the analysis.

Take the Philadelphia Eagles, for example. Last season they scored 398 points and allowed 328 (finishing 10-6). Plugging those numbers into the formula yields a baseline of 9 1/2 wins, and adjusting toward the mean gives Philly a projected total of nine wins. It's no coincidence the Hilton listed the Eagles' over/under at - whaddya know! - nine wins.

Casual fans or occasional gamblers might be surprised that the Hilton posted a total of "only" 10 1/2 wins for the San Diego Chargers, who led the league with 14 victories a year ago. But the formula suggests 10 1/2 is right on. The Chargers scored 492 points and allowed 303 last season for a baseline of 11.6, indicating San Diego was lucky to have amassed 14 wins. Adjusting toward the mean gives you 10.6, which jibes with the Hilton's number.

In a May 8, 2006, column I pointed out five plays for the 2006 NFL season generated by Noble's formula. Those plays went 3-2 and won 1.2 units (assuming a risk of one unit when the play was an underdog and risking enough to win one unit when the play was a favorite ). That's obviously a tiny sample, but I'll continue to lean on this formula because its methodology makes sense.

The Buffalo Bills present a good example of including roster changes in the analysis. The formula for the Bills yields a projected line of eight wins compared with the Hilton's listed total of six. Buffalo, however, lost playmakers Nate Clements, Willis McGahee and Takeo Spikes to trades and free agency, so I agree with ratcheting down its projected total.

I'll have no wager either way on the Bills, but following are seven plays for 2007 suggested by Noble's formula:

Baltimore Ravens over nine wins. With 353 points and 201 points allowed, the Ravens weren't particularly lucky in winning 13 games last season. Pythagoras gives us a total closer to 11.

Indianapolis Colts under 10 1/2. The Super Bowl champs were fortunate to have won as many as 12 games last year (427 points, 360 allowed), and we projected their line at about nine wins.

Jacksonville Jaguars over 8 1/2. The Jaguars went only 8-8 despite scoring 371 points and allowing 274.

Denver Broncos under 9 1/2; Carolina Panthers under nine; Tampa Bay Buccaneers under seven; and Seattle Seahawks under nine.

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