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How does LineAdvisor view "coverage" statistics?

Coverage statistics do not factor into any of our calculations.  HOWEVER, they are interesting, not because of what they say about a given team, but for what they imply about bettor perceptions of a given team.  By "coverage" we mean the tracking of how teams have paid off against a given side of bookmakers' lines. 

For example:

  • *      "The Atlanta Falcons are 10-5-1 against the spread this season..."
  • *      "Two thirds of the New York Jets' games this season have gone UNDER the total..."

This information is indeed valuable, in the first example, because it tells you the Atlanta Falcons were undervalued by the line spread this season.  It implies that bettors were required to lay too few points to choose the Falcons as a favorite, or that they received too many points to take them as an underdog.  The net result was that better ‘value' was received betting on the Falcons than otherwise probably should have.  (** If one is interested, separately delineated favorite/underdog ATS coverage data is widely available on the internet.) 

That said, it's important to point out that the value of looking at coverage statistics does NOT reside in the idea that bookmakers are making an inaccurate line, as accuracy is NOT a bookmakers's balanced risk.  Rather, the value is in the idea that the wagering public has been wrong most of the season in assessing the Falcons' value, and therefore the bookmakers naturally set their lines to reflect that.  This is of course irrespective of whatever they may have felt the real value should have been in setting the line.

This last point is important for three reasons. 

1.       While it is interesting to note that the public has been wrong in the above example, it doesn't necessarily mean they will continue to be.  If they change their preferences on a team you can bet the linemakers will begin to reflect that.

2.       Bettors' judgments, and therefore betting lines, are never perfect.  If they were there'd be no reason to bother betting...or even play the game, for that matter.  So even teams which have well-balanced action on them are going to have a coverage profile which can be skewed one way or the other, in some part purely on the basis of chance. 

3.       The best way to capitalize upon coverage statistics - that portion of them which is not the result of chance, and therefore does reflect incorrect bettor biases - is to have an intelligent probabilistic belief about the fundamental value of the line.  This is what LA offers.

So in short, YES, we view coverage statistics as a valuable component to game evaluation.  But given the nuances of deciphering HOW they are valuable, consider LA to be your guide in assessing the truth of what coverage statistics are saying.