The Season-Long Sweat: Examining 2018-’19 NBA And NFL Win Totals


Westgate Las Vegas released its over/under lines for NBA win totals in the upcoming 2018-’19 season, thus marking the highly unofficial start of the peak season for sports betting futures.

Some might consider August the sports betting doldrums, and sure, baseball is the only major sport offering games that bettors can scout day in and day out this time of year.

But now is the perfect time to part with a few bucks and wait half a year or more to find out if your bet is a winner. You can bet on NFL win totals, pick a Super Bowl winner, pick an NBA championship team, do the same for division and conference champions in both sports, and now, select the NBA teams you think will either exceed or fail to meet their win projection.

Bank shots

Before we dive into the NFL numbers, let’s talk NBA. Jeff Sherman, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook manager, has been kind enough to share his book’s win totals on Twitter:

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A few observations:

Instant adjustments

Four lines have already moved since Westgate first posted them: The young Bulls went up from 27.5 to 28.5 (where the offshore books all had them in the first place), the extremely young Suns ticked up from 28.5 to 29.5, the aging Grizzlies dipped from 34.5 to 33.5, and the new-look Spurs crept up from 43.5 to 44.

Nothing like last year

The LeBron Effect is very, very real: His new team, the Los Angeles Lakers, have the highest line relative to their 2017-’18 finish at 48.5, which would be a 13.5-win improvement over last year’s LeBron-less group. His old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, won 50 games last season are down a whopping 19.5 in the lines, all the way to 30.5.

Other big movers compared to last season’s records: Dallas is up 10.5 from its everything-went-wrong 24-win campaign last year, Houston is down 10.5 from its everything-went-right league-best 65 wins last year, Memphis is up 11.5, Phoenix is up 8.5, and Portland is down 7.5.

Slightly off(shore)

There are some discrepancies to be found compared to the offshore books. Detroit’s line is 1-3 wins lower than can be found online; Golden State has the highest total in the league at Westgate at 62.5, which is a significant increase of 4.5 wins over the champs’ 2017-’18 finish, but some offshore books have them as high as 66.5; and Oklahoma’s 50.5 total at the Superbook is 1-3 wins above what can be found overseas.

Odds and ends

  • One man’s opinion: 57.5 feels a bit low for a Celtics team that won 55 games last year without Gordon Hayward and employs only one significant contributor — Al Horford — who doesn’t rate to improve over his performance last year.
  • The Kawhi Effect bears no resemblance to the LeBron Effect. Without Kawhi Leonard, Toronto won 59 games last year. With Leonard, their win total at Westgate is 54.5.
  • (Not so) fun fact: 22 of 30 teams finished under their opening Westgate lines last season. And if you average out all the lines this year, they come out to 41.33 wins per team, meaning there is indeed the slightest of overprojections and the slightest of values to be found in the under.
  • DraftKings Sportsbook has not yet released NBA win totals, so we have to wait to comparison shop between the Las Vegas land-based option and the only New Jersey mobile sports betting option. Here’s a glimpse at the NBA futures bets that are available (see options across top) and some of the championship odds as of this morning:

Tackling the NFL totals

There is plenty of comparison shopping to be done where the NFL season-long win totals are concerned. Westgate’s numbers are out, as are totals from the William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City and the DK Sportsbook app.

On the most recent Gamble On podcast, we gave our takes that the Browns over 5.5 wins and the Dolphins under 6.5 felt like good bets. Those were based on the Ocean lines. But at Westgate, the Browns total is 4.5 and Miami’s is 5.5. Those are just a couple of examples of how it can be advantageous to shop around. Some other interesting discrepancies that vary by more than just half a win:

  • The Bengals’ total is 6.5 at Ocean and DK, 5.5 at Westgate. Same numbers for Washington.
  • The Giants are a juicy 6.5 at Ocean (where the price quickly shot to -170) and a more realistic 7 on DK (at -155) and 7.5 at Westgate.
  • The Jets also have a lower total at Ocean (5.5) than at Westgate (6.5). Atlantic City apparently doesn’t believe in the New York/New Jersey teams and isn’t too worried about their fans betting optimistically. (Admittedly, the notion of an “optimistic Jets fan” is somewhat of an oxymoron.)
  • Saints bettors are looking at a 9.5 line at Ocean and DK and an 8.5 at Westgate.
  • Seahawks numbers hop around from 7.5 at Ocean to 8 at DK to 8.5 Westgate, while the Texans are 8.5 at Ocean, 9 at DK, and 9.5 at Westgate.

Here’s an example of the betting challenge you face after comparison-shopping: If you like the Rams to have a good season, you can bet $160 to win $100 at Ocean that they’ll go over 9.5 wins … or you can bet $100 to win $100 on DK Sportsbook that they’ll go over 10 wins. Which is the better wager? Ten wins pays at Ocean, but it’s a push on DK; 11 wins and up gets you a better payout with DraftKings.

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