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Column: Will draft make your team better? Don’t bet on it.

The NFL has embraced sports betting so entirely that you almost expect Roger Goodell to open the draft by placing an over/under bet on the number of cornerbacks drafted by the, yes, Las Vegas Raiders. If betting a typical NFL game is hard – and it is – imagine trying to make a few bucks off a draft that experts have spent every waking hour analyzing for the last few months. Luckily, the commissioner is paid so handsomely that he doesn’t need his ticket to cash.

The top three picks seem so set that even Goodell couldn’t make a dime off them. But even the people who set odds on everything are having trouble figuring out exactly where things go from there.

And, no, for those wondering, there’s no line on whether Goodell will reimagine his draft day sweater from last year when COVID-19 forced him to run things from his socially distanced basement.

One thing the bookies in Las Vegas do know is that little that happens over three days this week will affect how many games your favorite team wins this season.


“The draft doesn’t affect the futures market too much,’’ said Nick Bogdanovich, who sets odds for the big William Hill betting chain. “Quick changes can happen with teams, but there are so many stars that have to align for that to happen.’’

Count Bogdanovich is among those who don’t expect that to happen. William Hill and several other significant sportsbooks have already set win total lines for the upcoming season before the draft and the actual schedule being released by the NFL.

The NFL has always been about parity, and even in an expanded 17-game season, that figures to hold. William Hill lists total wins between 4.5 (Houston) and 12 (Kansas City), with the rest slotted somewhere in between.

Among those teams is Jacksonville, which has a new coach in Urban Meyer and will soon have a new quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars are the rare team that bookies figure will make a big move, though they have nowhere to go but up after winning one game last season.

Don’t expect to steal some money on the Jags, though. The bookies are way too smart for that, figuring Jacksonville will take a small step toward respectability by winning six games this season.

You can bet on that, just as you can pick the Chiefs to win more than a dozen games in the more extended season. And why bet on which long shot the Steelers take in the draft when you can wager on them to win less than their over/under of nine games behind aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?

With Lawrence seemingly a lock to go No. 1 and Zach Wilson No. 2 to the Jets, don’t even think of trying to find a reasonable wager at the top of the class. The sportsbooks that even bother to offer bets on the top two picks have them so lopsided that someone betting $500 on Lawrence going No. 1 would only win $5.

“It’s a little like knowing the game’s score before the game starts,’’ said Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point Hotel sportsbook. “If they didn’t draft the Clemson kid first, that would be insane.’’

The definition of insanity might be taking the rent money and trying to outsmart the bookies and the wise guys in betting on the draft. Still, there are enough props available that the new wave of sports bettors will find hard to resist.

Betting on the draft is a relatively new phenomenon, as is being allowed to bet legally somewhere other than Las Vegas. But limits are generally low, and there’s not much action, with the handle probably not matching a Thursday night game during the season.

Unlike a game, though, it’s a nightmare for oddsmakers to handicap.

“We are accepting wagers on something where you could already have a good idea of what will take place,’’ said Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Superbook. “Therefore, as a bookmaker, you must be very well versed in the draft landscape. The information is out there, and what we found over the last couple of years is that the information has been pretty accurate.’’

Still, it’s a chance to wager on football. And with the NFL by far the most popular betting sport in the country, bettors will be stepping up to take that chance.

That’s true, even if they can’t find 2-1 odds against Goodell returning the sweater for an encore performance.


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

___ Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or http:twitter.com/timdahlberg

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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