I received this question from a long-time subscriber and thought I’d post my response to it for all to see:

Question:

Hi Dog,
Very nice pick last nite on balt – thank you!!!

Got your season O/U total wins picks and had a question -

do you think this would be a bad bet for somebody that is a very conservative player… i know you did not have a lean on GB (8) or Minn (8.5) but here goes……

bet them both over…. my thinking is that one of the two should win the division (they outshine bears and lions big time) and it is also very hard to win a division without winning at least 9 games…

so my point is – I feel one would have a very good chance of going 2-0, and very very little chance of going 0-2….  worst case IMHO would be 1-1…….. of course as always there could be injuries

since the over odds for GB and MINN are about -120: 1-1 would lose 20 (based on 120 to win 100 on each team) 2-0 would win 200…

essentially one is risking 20 to win 200 (assuming 0-2 does not happen) BOTH gb and minn would have to regress badly to not at least win one of the bets…..

does this make any sense?  sorry for the long explanation-any comments would be appreciated…

THANK YOU!
Mark

Interesting. On the surface it looks like a probable winner. But let’s look at the math…

Lines I have are as follows:

Packers OVER 8 -135
Vikings OVER 9 -115

So a winning packers bet would pay 0.74 units for each unit risked and a Vikings win would pay 0.87 units for each unit risked. We’ll use these figures below…

Based on this, we can scientifically figure out the value of this bet, as long as we come up with assumptions for probable outcomes. All we need to do is make our estimates for % chance of each of the four possible outcomes. I’ll put my assumed percentages next to each:

1. Both win (30%)
2. Pack wins, Vikes lose (25%)
3. Pack loses, Vikes win (25%)
4. Both lose (20%)

Now we can figure out an expected value:

1. 30% x .74 + 30% x .87 = .222 + .261 = .483 units
2. 25% x .74 = .185 units
3. 25% x .87 = .218 units
4. zero units

So, our expected value, based on the probabilities I chose is = .483  + .185 + .218 = .89 units. When risking 1 unit, our expected outcome is to lose .11 units. So, it should be a no bet.

Now, you may argue different percentages, boosting the chance of scenario 1, 2 and/or 3 above. Doing that would increase the expected value. But, before you get too crazy with the percentages, keep in mind that if the lines Vegas has posted for these totals are considered fair and accurate, then the expected outcome of each of the four scenarios would be 25% each. So, to make this a winner, you have to essentially believe the lines Vegas has posted are wrong (too low). And, to make the expected value positive in any meaningful way, your percentages for 1,2 and/or 3 would have to be bumped quite a bit. You just need to ask yourself if that is realistic.

Dog