Missed Field Goals & XP Are Affecting Bettors Too
Most sports are a game of inches, whether it’s a goal line stand, a puck crossing the line, a basketball making a full trip around the rim or any other scenario that plays out. The same can be said for sports betting, except inches are measured in points.
How many times have you missed a win by a point here, or a half a point there? Have you been affected this year? Snake-bitten kickers have ruled the 2018 NFL season so far, and their missed field goals and extra points are affecting bettors too.
I have written many articles about why bettors should use 2 or 3 sportsbooks to shop for lines. This is because getting an extra half point or a full point on your wager will win you a few bets throughout the year. The same can be said for these points left out there from missed field goals and extra points.
Week 7 in the NFL saw a bunch of games determined by misses, not just field goals, but extra points. Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker is known to be one of the most accurate kickers in the game, and had made all 222 out his 222 extra point attempts in his career before he missed one that would have tied the score at 24 against the Saints.
We don’t know what would have happened in overtime, but we never got the chance to see how it played out. If you had the Ravens on the moneyline, you were gutted. Not just the moneyline was affected here, the total closed at 49.5, and if the XP was good, the score would have been 24-24 and heading into OT. Any score would have put it OVER.
Let’s look at another direct example of how placekicker miscues affected Week 7 betting outcomes. Adam Vinatieri is quite possibly the greatest kicker of all time, and will most likely be a Hall of Famer at some point. However, his misses greatly affected the outcome in Week 7 if you wagered on the OVER in their game against the Bills.
While the total closed at 43.5 for the Bills vs. Colts, many, like myself got the OVER at 42.5. The Colts scored the first TD of the game, Vinatieri misses the XP. Later in the second quarter, they score again, go for two and get it so and all is well right? Hang on. With around 5 minutes remaining in the game, RB Marlon Mack runs in for his 2nd TD of the day, only to see Vinatieri miss the XP again. The game ends 37-5 for a total of 42 and a 0.5-point loss because of a missed XP.
Staying in Week 7 when the Cowboys visited the Redskins, when Dallas kicker Brett Maher missed a 52-yard field goal with time remaining that would have tied the game at 20. Sure, there is much controversy around a snap infraction call that should not have been, but this one closed at PK with a total of 40.5.
This one was a double whammy, because if the field goal was good, it would have went to OT. Anyone that had the Cowboys SU or ATS would have had a chance to win, PLUS, any score would have put the total OVER the closing number of 40.5. Granted, if you had the UNDER you would have been laughing all the way to the bank, but who bets the UNDER anyways?
Those are just three examples from Week 7, but how about Week 5 when there were no less than 10 missed field goals and 5 missed extra points? Packers’ placekicker Mason Crosby missed four field goals and an extra point against the Lions. That’s 13 points he left out on the field. Sure, Lions kicker Matt Prater missed a FG inside the dome that day too, but the final score in this one was 31-23 Lions. If all kicks were successful, the score would have been 36-34 in a game that closed at PK. Anyone betting the Pack were definitely let down by the kicker in this one.
Missed field goals and extra points are not just affecting bettors of single games either. Many bettors were all over the Cleveland Browns win total of 5.5. Although the Browns had one win in their past 2 years coming into the 2018 season, with better placekicking, they could have been 5-0 to start the season, giving one hell of a start to anyone that had them at 5.5 wins.
I won’t go into the details of how they could have won those games, but if you are a fan of football, you already know the scenarios. The bottom line is that these missed field goals and extra points are not only affecting the standings and team records, they are also taking money straight out of the pocket of bettors.
The biggest problem with missed FG’s and XP’s is that they are nearly impossible to predict, making handicapping that much more difficult. When doing our research to predict how a game will play out, because of the low probability/expectation of a missed extra point, they will not be something we add into our list of variables. Maybe it is something we need to start doing more.
The problem with this is the alternative effect, where accounting for missed XP’s and FG’s will give us the outcome of less points, when in reality, these points should be a given.
There is no true answer to this, and I guess we will have to take it all in stride. It is nearly impossible to predict a day like Mason Crosby had in Detroit in Week 5, or that the near perfect Justin Tucker will miss an XP, only for his team to lose by 1 point. How about when Vrabel went for two in London in Week 7 when an extra point would have tied the game, most likely sending it to overtime? Impossible to predict.
My purpose of this article was to raise awareness that the kicking epidemic across the NFL is having a profound affect on the outcome of games. With this, missed field goals and extra points are affecting bettors too. I for one will not start adding missed extra points to common variables when handicapping games, but if this continues, I may have no other choice than doing so.
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