September 12th 2013
by Mr. Vegas
Today we begin a full season of weekly NFL Teaser Reports that will run every Thursday from now through the playoffs exclusively at JimFeist.com. We’ll talk big picture strategies and developments, review the prior week, and get you ready for the new week ahead. With the NFL playing every Thursday this year, it’s vital to have your two-team teaser strategy mapped out for the entire weekend before that first kickoff.
If you’re not familiar with the two-team teaser, it’s are a very popular betting proposition that has been around for decades. You can pick any two teams (as long as they’re not playing each other) and move the line a full SIX points in your favor with both teams. The catch is…you have to go 2-0 to win your bet. If one team covers the more affordable point spread, but the other fails, you lose your bet.
They’re called “teasers” because they tease squares into losing their money! At least that was the theory when they were first created by sportsbooks. Professional wagerers developed some strategies to beat teasers many years ago…and continue to do so for a nice profit. We’ll talk about some classic strategies, and some lesser known ones through the course of our 2013 reports.
(Note, before betting NFL teasers at a sportsbook, be sure you check with that establishment’s specific rules and vigorish on teasers so you have a clear sense of the dynamics in play)
A strategy that’s well known in Vegas circles, often referred to as “basic strategy” for teasers, is to find all the examples where a six-point move will take you across both the 3 and the 7. Then round-robin all of those in as many teasers as you can. The nominees would be:
*All Favorites of -7.5, -8, and -8.5 moving down to -1.5, -2, and -2.5
*All Underdogs of +1.5, +2, and +2.5 moving up to +7.5, +8, and +8.5
This worked so well for so much profit that sportsbooks now are more hesitant to leave teams inside that teaser window. If an NFL favorite is sitting at -8.5…some stores will move the line to -9 just to lower their exposure to teasers. If an underdog is sitting at +1.5…those same stores will drop the line to +1. Smart teaser players develop a sense for the best locales to play.
Were there any success stories from the opening week of NFL action? It gets tricky to measure because those Week One lines were available for many weeks. Here are the games that spent some time in the right spots for the basic strategy approach:
Denver vs. Baltimore at -7.5, -8, or -8.5
New England vs. Buffalo at -8, or -8.5
Miami at Cleveland with late lines of +1.5 or +2
Indianapolis vs. Oakland at early lines of -7.5, -8, or -8.5
Denver, Miami, and Indianapolis were all successful within those windows. New England played far below expectations and only won by two points at Buffalo.
Early Season Dangers
There’s a conservative school of thought that says you shouldn’t bet any teasers until at least the fourth or fifth week because you want oddsmakers to have time to really pin all 32 teams down accurately (particularly offenses with new starting QBs). Aggressive bettors will step in from the get-go if their own handicapping methodology backs up the teams being suggested by the basic strategy approach.
The biggest monkey wrench facing teaser handicappers in 2013 looks to be the increased number of teams who are playing at faster tempos. The more points that are scored in a game, the less valuable teasers are because moving a line six points in a low scoring defensive struggle is a lot more potent than moving the lines six points in a shootout. Points are cheapened in higher scoring games.
Longtime teaser players are watching this development very carefully. Veterans have always emphasized the NFL over college football with teasers because points are so cheap in the colleges. Most refuse to bet college teasers at all because the value just isn’t there. If the NFL starts becoming more and more like college football in terms of pace and style, then teasers will lose value at the pro level.
Now…let’s put those two factors together…betting teasers in the first month can be dicey because oddsmakers haven’t sharpened their numbers yet, AND betting teasers in high tempo football is dicey because point value is cheapened. Beware of snake eyes!
With that in mind, let’s look back at last weekend without any concern for basic strategy. How many games were played where BOTH teams would have landed within the 12-point window of possibilities?
New Orleans -3.5 beat Atlanta 23-17
NY Jets +4 beat Tampa Bay 18-17
Chicago -3 beat Cincinnati 24-21
Seattle -4 beat Carolina 12-7
Detroit -4.5 beat Minnesota 34-24
St. Louis -4.5 beat Arizona 27-24
San Francisco -4.5 beat Green Bay 34-28
Dallas -3.5 beat the NY Giants 36-31
Houston -4 beat San Diego 31-28
That’s 9 out of 16 games where teaser players could do no wrong. Whoever you might have selected would have covered in a two-team teaser. The only teams to fail last week were Baltimore, New England, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Washington.
You can see why they call them teasers! Many public bettors and network pundits thought New England and Indianapolis would win blowouts last week. Baltimore is the defending Super Bowl champion. Pittsburgh is a perennial playoff team who could have been moved down from -6 to pick-em in very tempting fashion. When public teams disappoint, the public gets spanked on teasers!
Week Two Possibilities
Let’s look now at this week. The Thursday night game isn’t near the basic strategy window because New England is -12.5. They might still offer value though because a teaser would cross the critical numbers of 10 and 7 on the way down to New England -6.5. You could also move the Jets up past the 14 and 17 on the way to +18.5. Those of you who have a strong handicapping opinion on either side at 12.5 may find that teasing your team with a great Sunday choice could prove profitable.
Here are some weekend teams that either are now, or could soon be in the strike zone:
Philadelphia at -7.5, -8, or -8.5 vs. San Diego
Houston at -8 or -8.5 vs. Tennessee
Miami at +2.5 at Indianapolis
Green Bay at -7.5 or -8 vs. Washington
Dallas at +2 or +2.5 at Kansas City
Arizona at +1.5 or +2 vs. Detroit
San Francisco at +2.5 at Seattle (Sunday night)
Cincinnati at -7.5 vs. Pittsburgh (Monday night)
That’s why this is such an important week to start focusing on teasers. There will be possibilities galore for consideration in the next few days.
We’re not suggesting that all of those are going to hit. Or, even that most of those are going to hit. We’ll do our best each week to tell the teaser story of the 2013 NFL season for you on these pages in a way that will help you understand the limitations and possibilities with this proposition.
Conservative professionals will still mostly be biding their time with NFL teasers until October because they’re concerned about volatility. We can assure you though that some aggressive pros will be taking some shots this Sunday on a few of those opportunities.
Back with you again next Thursday and EVERY Thursday through the season for our weekly NFL Teaser Report, presented by JimFeist.com.