If you’re someone who believes in the Kansas City Chiefs for the coming 2012 NFL season, doesn’t believe in the predictive value of preseason results and happens to be in Nevada and able to place a legal sports bet, then this August was just what the doctor ordered. Because some early optimism about the Chiefs in the betting markets has cooled, and their odds on winning the division are getting a little more attractive.
Back in the spring, Kansas City was a 9-2 shot to win the AFC West. When you consider the team just achieved this very feat in 2010 and has Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki back from ACL injuries, and plays in a very balanced division with no clear superpower, those odds represented good value. Some positive momentum, fueled by an impressive opening preseason game, saw that number drop to 3-1. Now that the Chiefs have looked terrible in their last two games, the odds are back up to 9-2.
These numbers shift might not be eye-popping when you read them, but consider that moves between 3-1 and 4.5-1 represent shifts of better than 35 percent each way. Then consider how much money is actually bet in Las Vegas and you realize how much action—or lack thereof—has to take place to effect that kind of movement in the number.
And it underscores why handicappers who think long-term learn to think and act like stockbrokers—buy low and sell high. The worst time to bet Kansas City was right after they put a smackdown on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 of the preseason and the odds dropped to 3-1. The best time to bet the Chiefs would be now, as their market bottoms out and the bandwagon empties.
Of course this all presumes that as an analyst, you genuinely believe Kansas City is a good football team and believe too much gets made of August performance. As a fan, it’s nice to see the smart money lining up behind your team. But if you’re at the window, it’s even nicer to see the smart money go the other way and improving the price.