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PayneInsider
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Information Worth Betting
Information Worth Betting

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Predicting Futures Market for College Football Playoff

2014 will mark the first season in collegiate football history that a four team playoff will decide the national champion. Conference alignment plays a major factor in the overall potential for various candidates to get into this 'tournament'. There's a ton to take in when analyzing futures for each team as to whether or not they can be one of the top four.

Scheduling is must be factored heavily, with projected point spreads and an analytical breakdown of each portion of a contender’s schedule being additionally imperative to understanding the likelihood that a team will have a chance to play for it all come January. We broke things down in consideration of conference affiliation and make an attempt to provide you with the best understanding possible regarding the prospects of all the major contenders.

ACC: Florida State (-250)

There's a reason the ‘Noles are -250 to get to the playoff. The idea of this club going undefeated again is a wild card for sure, but the scheduling advantages are there even in an improved ACC. Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame all come at home, with Miami and Louisville on the road. A look ahead to their projected spreads show they will be nothing less than a double digit favorite in every game this season.

Because I'm leery about the selection committee and their willingness to appoint a one-loss ACC team into the four team playoff, I don't think there's much value in actually betting this listed future. You could essentially lay -110 and go over 11.5 wins if you felt they needed to run the table, but regardless, Florida State is a squad that should undoubtedly find themselves in the title picture. The 'Noles are absolutely loaded from top to bottom, but if you wanted to knit-pick, Jimbo's largest concern heading into the 2014-2015 campaign...their punting situation.

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Big 12: Baylor (+420)

Everyone and their mother loves this Sooners team and I will admit; they are as good as anyone in the trenches with fantastic offensive and defensive lines. They finished 2013 with a bang beating rival Okie State on the highway and they hammered Alabama in the stand-alone, nationally televised Sugar Bowl - they enter 2014-2015 with expectations as high as any other team. The Sooners get Kansas State, Baylor and OSU all at home. OU has the luxury of not having to leap the final hurdle that is a conference championship game. All of that has led to them receiving the fourth best odds to make it to this playoff.

The Big 12 is a tougher task than many give it credit for. Baylor jumped out to an impressive start and faltered late in 2013. This Sooner team is built better than that Bears club, but the fact remains that anything can happen in this conference. Texas will be vastly improved and trips to West Virginia and TCU are not going to be layups, either. Staying away from this conference altogether seems like the logical thing to do if you believe the Sooners are over-hyped in the minds of the media. Personally speaking, my gut tells me Baylor would be the Big 12 representative if any team from this conference represents the four team playoff, and at +420 rather than OU's +190 it makes more sense from a value perspective.

SEC: Alabama (-115); Auburn (+240); Georgia (+300); LSU (+310)

Jacob Coker remains a bit of an unknown and some have questioned his ability to stay composed on and off the field, yet he is a seriously talented arm and has more skill position talent around him than Nick Saban has ever assembled in Tuscaloosa. That said, he's had trouble beating out Blake Simms who Nick Saban wanted to turn into a running back this year.
Once again the offense will rely on the ground and pound it with their three strong RB talents, which should take a load off of Coker's shoulders. Trips to Ole Miss and LSU could be stumbling blocks for the Tide, but they will be motivated and looking for revenge off that ridiculous loss to Auburn. They also get the Tigers' at home in the final game of this 2014 slate, you can bet that one has been circled since the offseason.

Nick Marshall and this Auburn offense could be even better without Tre Mason. However, the defense is the looming question most war eagle faithful have, can they bend just enough to get back in the national title picture? I believe at some point that defense will break.

Georgia is finally healthy on both sides of the ball and they have a senior QB who figures to be better in big spots than Aaron Murray was. Hunter Matson impressed last year when given the opportunity and Murray's injury a season ago might be a blessing in disguise. Having Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall out of the backfield to lean on early and often takes this Bulldogs team to the next level. In addition to having senior wide-outs Chris Conley and Michael Bennett to work with, UGA returns nine starters on defense and a wealth of talent on the OL. This team gets Clemson at home opening weekend and travels to South Carolina on September 13. A trip to Missouri won’t be easy and the Florida game in Jacksonville will likely decide the SEC East.

If LSU can beat the Tide in that all important, November 8th affair, they could be the team to come out of this conference. But that's not all; Les Miles' gang travels to Auburn and Florida back to back weeks in early October, it’s likely they split those.
Youth at the QB spot will be another concern, as Les Miles is still (allegedly) toying with the idea of using both sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris early on in different scripted packages. Harris is a kid with enormous potential and while accuracy and efficiency are concerning, he can make big plays at any moment. We believe he’ll be the guy Les rolls with, and that makes the Tigers very intriguing, especially with freshman Leonard Fournette looking to take over ground duties.

All in all, the Tide have appeal here. Coker could become a breakout star and even if ‘Bama trips up one time, if they win the SEC with just one loss, they’ll be in that final field of four.

Pac 12: Oregon (+125); USC (+550)

Oregon’s shortcomings have become an expectation to some extent. They continually trip up against Stanford, but do get the Cardinal at home this year and look to be front and center in what is a deep Pac-12. The Ducks get an early season visit from Michigan State in what could be one of the better games on the September slate. A trip to UCLA October 11th won’t be easy, and they also get Washington at home and Utah on the road. The schedule isn’t overly brutal and the Ducks will be favorites in all of their games thanks to Heisman frontrunner Marcus Mariota. The Ducks could be destined to get into this tournament after coming up short a season ago, but it’s the test that they could get in the conference title game that concerns me most.

USC is a team few in the media seem to be acknowledging, but professional bettors are high on the Trojans. Yes, an early season trek to Stanford will be tough and Arizona State has a tremendous offense as does rival UCLA. But the Bruins are largely overrated and Brett Hundley simply doesn’t have the accuracy to get them over the hump. Notre Dame comes at home, but that road trip to Arizona on October 11th comes in lieu of a revenge spot against the Sun Devils, making a potential landmine as the Wildcats could be underrated. Still, they can probably lose one game, so long as they beat the Bruins, and go to the conference championship.

Yes, the Ducks are probably better on paper right now, but the Trojans are a serious challenger with an absurd amount of skill. Injuries and depth are the main challenge for USC and the loss of Josh Shaw doesn't help, and now Anthony Brown has quit after calling Steve Sarkisian a racist.

Big Ten: Michigan State (+375); Wisconsin (+550); Ohio State (+600)

The Spartans are clearly formidable and they come off a fantastic 2013 campaign. An early season trip to Oregon concerns us and they still have both Michigan and OSU after that. They lost some really important defensive players and a two loss season is likely.

The decision to go with Tanner McEvoy at QB in Madison is highly intriguing. A 6’6, 220 lbs senior, McEvoy used to attend South Carolina before going the JUCO route. He played DB one year ago at Wisconsin and now gets the nod over Joel Stave to start under center for the Badgers. The schedule presents opportunity for Wisky; they open with LSU, but outside of trips to Northwestern who I think is down and having internal issues and Iowa, the should is a cake walk. As was the Case with the Spartans, assuming they lose to LSU this weekend, they really don’t have any feasible way of getting in as a two loss club. For that reason, we will pass on them as well.

We know that Braxton Miller is out. We also know something else too: that might not really matter at all. J.T. Barrett can play and has been getting acclimated to the system for over 3 months as an early enrollee and the Buckeyes are loaded on both sides of the ball. They get Virginia Tech at home in week two and Michigan to end the year, but outside of a November 8th trip to East Lansing, this schedule is beyond manageable. How much better is Braxton Miller than JT Barrett? Week 1 features the Buckeyes at Navy where they were 17-point favorites before the loss of Miller. Since then, bookmakers re-opened the contest -12.5 and professional bettors proceeded to bury the game as Ohio State is -16.5 with J.T Barrett calling the shots now.

If (and it’s obviously a big if) Barrett proves to be as composed in the pocket at this level as many say he is, the Buckeyes aren’t likely to see a drop-off in Urban Meyers athlete-friendly quarterback system. This is our riskiest pick and Georgia could be viewed as a more logical selection as they sit in the SEC East, but the boys from Columbus intrigue us and the number next to their name is a steal at the current price. This is the perfect example of taking advantage of overreaction in the marketplace.

Final Predictions: Florida State, Georgia, Oregon, Ohio State

Value Bets: Ohio State, Baylor, Georgia, USC
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Pythagorean Theorem, Turnover Margin, and how it Correlates to the Kansas City Chiefs Season Win Total Expectation

* LVH Opening Total: 8 (O-120, U+100)
* BetOnline Current Total: 8.5 (U-170)
* BetOnline AFC West Odds: (+650)

The NFL Regular Season kicks off in less than a month, but for serious sports gamblers and investors alike, the preparation for this upcoming season likely began at least three months ago. The amount of data and information that is pertinent to having success as a sports bettor takes time to acquire. One team that jumps off the page as being overvalued based on last year’s results, and could be destined for a sub-par season, is the Kansas City Chiefs.


If we take a peak at a simple mathematical formula, the Pythagorean Theorem, we observe the Chiefs should have won approximately 9.57 games in 2013. They won 11 games, or 1.43 wins more than the basic statistics tell us they should have. Pythagorean Theorem accounts for turnover margin (KC +18), and allows for even those mathematically challenged individuals (it's ok, we know you’re out there) to arrive at a solid base for handicapping a 16 game season.

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We can further examine my skepticism of Kansas City by evaluating the quarterbacks they faced last season. In 2013, the Chiefs defense forced 21 interceptions, 3rd most in the NFL. Impressive, but who was under center for the opposition? Blaine Gabbert, Michael Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrell Pryor, Case Keenum, Jason Campbell, Jeff Teul, Matt McGloin and an injured RGIII. The Chiefs 17 interceptions against these quarterbacks (9 games) accounted for almost 81% of their picks for the entire season! This year, they have been “blessed” with the NFC West (Kaepernick, Wilson, Palmer and Bradford), and those physical defenses. A late season visit to Pittsburgh puts a definitive stamp on a much more difficult road for Kansas City in 2014. The AFC West division has strengthened as a whole in the off-season, and a game they must win to even sniff their season win total is Week 1; Kansas City is currently installed a 4.5-point favorite at home over the Titans. However, they will be without the services of their best wide-out, Dwayne Bowe due to a 1-game suspension.

The current Chiefs over/under number sits at 8.5, with the under heavily juiced (-165 to -195 depending where you shop). While I realize this is not the optimal market entry point, I would recommend playing this at the current number for a little less than an average wager. Some sportsbooks offer alternative betting lines; one may offer 9(-225) or 8(+100). Gamblers can often take advantage of these lines with a little work and some shopping around (please do not limit yourself to 1 or 2 books). Fundamental exercises such as line shopping and self-control are crucial to long-term success in the sports betting marketplace - and should be practiced daily!
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