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Vegas Increases Over/Under Totals, Home Field Advantage Based on Replacement Refs

Yesterday, I wrote about home field advantage through two weeks with the replacement officials, noting that to date, the median home field advantage has been closer to 8 points, with home teams winning 14 games for the first time in the last decade, and starting 23-9 straight up and 19-13 against the spread.

Today, the AP has a story with quotes from various power brokers and lines makers in Vegas about the impact of the replacement officials on their jobs as they set lines. This week, casinos have set the highest ever average over/under totals for the week, with an average expectation of 46.1 points scored in week 3 games.

Casinos haven’t fully changed lines yet because there have been only two weeks of games and referees might adjust how they call games based on weekly feedback from the league. But oddsmaker Mike Colbert of Cantor Gaming says home teams will deserve an extra half-point in their favor if games are called all year the way they were officiated in Week 2.

“It’s starting to concern us a bit,” Colbert said. “(Officials) should have no influence on the total or the side.”

When I pointed out the discrepancy in home field advantage through two weeks, yes, I know there’s noise in the data, and the sample size is small, and yes, for those who asked, I’m also aware that Arizona won at New England. As I stated, I do suspect the effect is real as well, but not as large as the current number. This is based on the replacement officials working games in venues they are not used to, in front of large home crowds. This is an example where insisting on statistical significance is fool hardy. Vegas can’t sit back and wait until these officials have been on the field for 200 games, and the uncertainty is I’m sure causing headaches this week. They’ve got to make “best guess” decisions and can’t just stand pat.

NFL teams generally get a 3-point edge in sports books just for playing at home. An extra half-point added to that would be the equivalent of a team having a superstar receiver or running back on the field or an opponent missing its star because of injury, gambling expert RJ Bell of Pregame.com said.

“That’s a strong statement that the people are really considering this to be a legitimate phenomenon,” Bell said. “When you’re taking hundreds of thousands of dollars per game, those half-points are really meaningful.”

Interesting quotes there, about the value of a star player versus adjusting for home field advantage based on the money that is coming in. I’m betting that Vegas wishes this thing gets resolved. If they take a naked position (which could happen in these games if they undervalue the public’s perception of  the referee impact), they would prefer it be in cases where they have a lot more data about the outcome likelihood.

[photo via US Presswire]

 

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