There’s something profound about the number three and its basic importance in the way society divides things up, from “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” to “red, white, and blue” and everything else. This is because the number three is so important in how society divides things.
At the Olympics, participants can win three medals instead of two or four
There are three musketeers rather than six. Not nine, but three wise men. And, of course, there are three Stooges; there aren’t anymore, and there aren’t any fewer. (As with this meta paragraph, it’s best to include three examples of whatever you’re discussing.)
Then there’s the NFL point spread power of three, which is as relevant this week as it has ever been on a Sunday when conference championship games are played. Since the conference championship games are being played, this is the most critical week for point spreads.
In Sunday’s NFC showdown, the Green Bay Packers were favored by 3 or 3.5 points over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Kansas City Chiefs were largely viewed as a 3-point favorite after their victory against the Buffalo Bills. As of the start of the day on Friday, this was the situation on all of the major online betting sites.
Nothing reflects the relevance of whether a bettor receives a game at 3 or 3.5 more accurately than the adjusted vig that takes it into account. This is true for the bettor as well as the bookmaker.
More often than not, games end on three points
What is the significance of the number three in the NFL? According to a wizardofodds.com analysis, game results fall on this number substantially more frequently than any other number. The explanation for this is straightforward.
According to the survey (which included the years 2006-2017), games were decided by a three-point margin 14.5 percent of the time. The next closest margin was seven points, which happened 9.2% of the time. (A margin of two points or less prevailed in 3.8 percent of games, while a margin of four points or more prevailed in 5.2 percent of games.)
Because it is a pretty common figure, sportsbooks invest a lot of attention into moving games on or off a 3-point spread. This is because 3 is a rather common number. Most of the time, they’d rather adjust the vig from the standard 10% to a different number than move the line in a way that could cost them money.
The Packers-Bucs game is advertised as a 3-point spread on FanDuel, but bettors who want to back Green Bay with only that amount must pay a steep -130 vigorish. This is because the majority of betting websites now have Green Bay as a 3.5-point favorite for the game (as of Friday morning). Meanwhile, those betting on 3.5 elsewhere get some relief, as FOX Bet has made it an even-money bet to pick Green Bay, while William Hill and BetMGM have dropped the line to -105.
Even though Patrick Mahomes has been practicing and it appears that he will be allowed to play, there is some concern that he will be able to return from the concussion protocol in time for the game to begin. However, there are other ways to get the Chiefs as a 3-point favorite right now. You must, however, pay for a photo to enjoy the pleasure of acquiring them for 3 instead of 3.5.
Because of the frequency with which a field goal determines the winner of a game, bookmakers are understandably anxious about moving on or off 3 and risking being “squeezed” by the presence of a big number of bettors with the potential to win the game while simultaneously beating the house.
The benefit of playing at home this year is not the same three points
The fact that the point spreads for Sunday’s games reflect two games in which the participants are thought to be nearly evenly matched and entertaining, competitive games are possible is a positive development for all football fans, regardless of whether or not they gamble on the sport regularly. The caveat is that point spreads of three or three and a half points do not reflect as much parity as they should in this case.
In the past, NFL betting lines have always factored in a three-point home-field advantage, or anything close to that figure. However, this was before the COVID era.
The 2020 NFL regular season saw a record number of home teams finish with a losing record: 127-128-1. The lack of spectators in the stands appears to be a disadvantage for them.
Bookmakers took this into account during the season, reducing the advantage given to teams playing at home, and they are almost certainly doing the same thing for the two games that will determine the conference champions. The point spreads for Sunday’s home games would ordinarily indicate that the Buccaneers are nearly comparable to the Packers and the Bills are roughly equivalent to the Chiefs. In this case, though, they believe the home teams are slightly stronger regardless of the venue.
The odds for championship games aren’t always as low
It is unusual for both title games to be seen in such a competitive manner. The Chiefs were a touchdown underdog against the Tennessee Titans the previous season, while the 49ers were a comparable underdog against the Packers. (Both the underdog and the favorite won and covered.)
There have been relatively few situations in this millennium equal to the one that occurred this year, in which both home teams were favored by about a field goal:
In 2019, the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots were both road underdogs against their respective opponents, the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs.
In 2006, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers by a field goal in a game that they were heavily favored to win at home. The final result was 34-14. Although they were underdogs by three points when they traveled to Denver to face the Broncos, the Pittsburgh Steelers handily defeated them, 34-17.
In 2004, the Panthers were 4-point underdogs in Philadelphia when they defeated the Eagles 14-3. The Patriots, on the other hand, won and were covered as 3-point home favorites when they upset the Colts 24-14.
It is impossible to discover any kind of consistent pattern on which bettors may rely, which is unfortunately common. Consider this: during the last 20 years, the favorites in the NFC title game have covered the spread 10 times, finishing 10-10, while the favorites in the AFC championship game have covered the spread 11 times, going 11-9.
On Sunday, no rule of threes may be applied to boost one’s chances of winning any wager. If you decide to bet on the game, you should pay close attention to how the sportsbooks are either adding or subtracting juice from that number.