Jan 19, 2012

Do Line Moves Matter in the NFL?

do line moves matter nfl
2011 NFL Regular Season ATS 136-91

The short answer is YES.  The long one is still to be determined completely.  You will hear all kinds of different answers depending on who you ask without them actually having any factual evidence to back up their claims.  As with any analysis you need a decent sample size to lower variance and not base it on short term "luck".  

For the 2011 NFL Regular season there were 256 games played.  227 of them had a "line move" and 29 had no move at all or the line closed where it started.  As you can see from the graph, ~60% of the time the line move was "right" which for a complete season is a huge percentage.  Will this continue next year? Will it be profitable long-term? None of us can predict the future but to ignore line moves in your decision making is a losing proposition. Now, what is a "line move" anyway and how do we determine it?  Read on......

sharp line moves thegreek
Our Assistant "Junior" Watching Every Line Move

So what is a Line Move? For statistical purposes we keep it simple and consistent.  We base it on the initial/opening line and compare it to the closing line. For example, Houston spread opens at -3 vs Cincinnati then it moves and closes at -4 so the line move is obviously towards Houston. If it moves to -2 let's say then the line move is towards Cincinnati.  Pretty simple and we want to keep it that way.  I will add more complicated examples in the future. 

Late line movement and closing number are very most important factors to consider when making your final decision on a play. Pinnacle Sports and TheGreek are the sharpest sports books in the industry but to keep consistency we'll be using Pinnacle for our databases.

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