Normally, the week after the Super Bowl (sue me Goodell I’m above “the big game”) serves as a sort of epilogue for the football season that was. But this year, there’s a different feel in the air. Football is bach in a big way 6 months early and for the next 10 weeks we’ll be blessed with nationally televised football games every Saturday and Sunday. On top of that, The XFL is reportedly going all in on gambling and will openly discuss the total and point spread on the broadcast. Take that Hanson you prick, you know exactly what you do. They will also include the total and spread in their graphics both in stadium and on broadcast. Vince McMahon may be many things, but he’s certainly no idiot. If you’re like me, you’re probably salivating at a chance to bet on some football right now but there’s a few things you should know. The XFL has a number of new rules and tweaks to try to make the game more interesting, but as a byproduct they’ve fucked up football numbers as we know them.
It feels appropriate to preface this with a quick recap of normal football numbers – key gambling numbers that significantly impact how a handicapper views games.
3 – I mean, this is pretty simple. It’s a field goal and the general points assigned for home field advantage – that is to say Vegas views a -1 home favorite as actually being 2 points worse than the visiting team on a neutral field.
7 – Again, fairly self explanatory. If you’re laying the favorite, you want to be inside 7, if you’re on the dog you want the hook.
From here it’s basically just multiples or combinations of these numbers – 10, 14, 21, 24… etc. These are “football numbers” that gamblers recognize, but here’s the catch. I expect Vegas to try to take advantage of this, at least in the early going, and offer standard football numbers that entice bettors. However, The XFL has an entirely new PAT system that really throws a wrench in things. Basically there is no more 1 point PAT kick. Instead, teams can run an offensive play from the 2 yard line for 1 point, the 5 yard line for 2 points, or the 10 yard line for 3 points. While this promises to add an interesting wrinkle to strategy and the games themselves, it completely fucks up EVERYTHING about football numbers. Based on what I know about football and the league, I believe that the standard choice is going to be the 2 point conversion from the 5. This shifts the key football number from 7 to 8, and likewise from 10 to 11 all the way down the line. So basically, with this new system, expect Vegas to offer a lot of lines like they already are for the DC Defenders opener this weekend. The Defenders, a significantly better team on paper, open as 7.5 point home favorites against Seattle. To a normal football handicapper, the +7.5 probably looks very intriguing with the hook on the football number, but in reality, that 7.5 is the equivalent to 6.5 in the NFL if that makes sense. Since 8 is the number, the 7.5 actually favors the favorite assuming I’m right as I always am. This is also going to apply to totals, so again look for multiples of 8 when breaking down the board. Also, I’m not even gonna bother trying to handicap it until it happens, so just pray for no overtime if you’re throwing some units around on the XFL early. This is going to be tough to grasp before we see it, but basically think of XFL overtime as a hockey shootout. Each team will get 5, 1 play possessions from the 5 yard line with each score counting for 2 points. So a team could theoretically go to overtime, score 5 times and hold their opponent to 2 successful conversions and win by 6. Strange? Yes. Intriguing? Also yes.
All in all, the tldr here is that the key football number for now in the XFL is going to be 8, so when you’re hawking the board make sure you look at all those enticing looking numbers with some healthy skepticism.
Follow me on twitter @Harry__Mac and strap in for some XFL winners. I will also be on the field at the Defenders opener this weekend hopefully providing you with some wonderful content and not receiving a restraining order from Tyree Jackson.