NFL Football Betting–Cleveland Browns Winless Season Prop Bet Odds After Week 13

–The Cleveland Browns stand at 0-12 on the NFL season.

– They had a bye this past weekend and have four games remaining.

– Since 1945 only four NFL teams have finished a season winless.

Will the Cleveland Browns finish the 2016 NFL season with a record of 0-16?

Yes: +155 (Implied Probability of 39.22%)
No: -175 (Implied probability of 63.64%)


This is, of course, the answer to a trick question–they couldn’t lose this weekend because they had a bye. After a loss last weekend to the New York Giants they got a much needed respite and the opportunity to re-focus for the remaining four games of the season. As far as these things go, the Browns have a decent opportunity to win one of their final four games and avoid becoming the fifth NFL team since 1945 to complete a winless regular season. The favorable schedule down the stretch combined with a semi-tolerable performance in their loss to the Giants last week are the reasons that I’ve moved the line slightly on the ‘Winless 2016 Season’ prop bet odds. Not a particularly significant move from our previous update on November 20:

Yes: +125
No: -150

You’ll also notice that I’ve added some implied probability numbers with the updated odds. You have to promise me that you’ll use these numbers correctly. Here’s what they *don’t* mean:

“Sports Betting Experts’ oddsmaker Jim Murphy says that the Cleveland Browns have a 63.64% chance of avoiding a winless season.”

There’s one essential thing to keep in mind anytime you see betting odds, pointspreads or whatever–they’re not trying to ‘predict’ the outcome of the game or other proposition. On the bookmaker’s side of the counter you don’t get ‘brownie points’ for correctly ‘predicting’ the outcome of a game. When I set odds my goal at the theoretical level is to split the action that I attract with these numbers. This is part art, part science and there is a predictive component to these numbers to be sure. In a perfect world, I’d know two things before I set prices:

The True Odds of the Proposition:

The Public’s Perception of the Proposition:

With this information I could set a nasty price on every game. There’s one big problem–it’s impossible to get a completely accurate read on both of the above factors. Actually, there are occasionally betting propositions where I can determine the ‘true odds’. For example, the coin flip before every NFL game. Other than a few rare exceptions, however, I’m just trying to get in the ‘ballpark’. Public perception is even trickier to deduce but that’s actually the more important component of the oddsmaking equation. I’ll repeat something that you’ve heard me say often–as an oddsmaker I’m more concerned with handicapping how the public feels about a betting proposition than I am the betting proposition itself.


Back to the term ‘implied probability’–in the example above I’m not saying that the Browns have a 63.64% chance of winning at least one game this year. This is a simple mathematical formula and the result essentially says that at this price point a specific probability is implied taking into account the bookmaker’s ‘vig’. That’s why the implied probability adds up to more than 100%–the amount over 100% is the bookmaker’s ‘vig’. And this is why it’s incorrect to suggest that “I’m saying that the Browns have a 63.64% chance of winning a game” since I’m saying nothing of the sort.

If this isn’t making sense let’s go back to basics–think of a coin flip which we can all agree is a 50/50 proposition. The way you write this on the moneyline (with implied probability) is as follows:

HEADS: +100 (Implied probability of 50%)
TAILS: +100 (Implied probability of 50%)

Easy enough. But If I’m running a sportsbook and paying ‘true odds’ on everything I won’t be in business long. I’ve got to pay the bills plus I have expensive tastes and a trophy wife to keep happy. Spoiler alert–bookmaking is a ‘profit deal’. So we’ll factor in some vig and make it -110 on each side:

HEADS: -110 (Implied probability of 52.38%)
TAILS: -110 (Implied probability of 52.38%)

52.38 + 52.38 =104.76 and that 4.76% goes into the bookmaker’s pocket (assuming he has balanced action on this bet). Let’s modify it a little more–let’s say that there’s some data making the rounds that a particular referee has thrown ‘heads’ ten straight times. Obviously, this has no bearing whatsoever on the next coin flip but we’ll assume that the betting public for this game slept through every math class they took in high school or college. The book gets a ton of action on this coin flip landing ‘heads’ and as a result adjusts the line to:

HEADS: -150 (Implied probability of 60%)
TAILS: +120 (Implied probability of 45.45%)

So could you accurately say that “Sports Betting Experts’ oddsmaker Jim Murphy says that this coin flip is 60% likely to land ‘heads'”? Nope–I know that any coin flip is a 50/50 proposition and I’m not saying that at all. What you should do with the information is realize that in this proposition that ‘Heads’ is a bad bet (since it’s a 60% implied probability price on a 50% true probability outcome) and that ‘Tails’ is a good value (since it’s a 45.45% implied probability price on a 50% true probability outcome). Hopefully, this will help you understand what oddsmakers mean when they talk about ‘implied probability’ and you’ll start rolling your eyes anytime a sports media type incorrectly asserts that ‘bookmakers say that State Tech has a 60% chance of beating State U this weekend’. We’ll talk more about ‘value’ in the future since it’s another essential handicapping concept.


Will the Cleveland Browns finish the 2016 NFL season with a record of 0-16?

Yes: +155 (Implied Probability of 39.22%)
No: -175 (Implied probability of 63.64%)


About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on sports betting as well as handicapping theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice. Murphy is an odds making consultant for sports and 'non-sport novelty bets' focused on the entertainment business, politics, technology, financial markets and more.