By Mike Sullivan

I often wonder about how Vegas sets their odds. I mean, of course I have a general idea of how it works. I’m fairly good at predicting what certain spreads will open up at. Especially in football. There are a certain set of common numbers often used such as 3.5 and 7.5 which obviously correlates to field goals and touchdowns plus a hook.

My point is, a lot of people can look at a team and identify a pretty general number of what the spread or total is simply based on watching the team and understanding the game. However, there are certain spreads and totals that come out and I don’t understand at all.

A prime example of this is the Dallas Cowboys 2017 win total. This one makes no sense to me so I decided to seek reasoning.

They won 13 games last year, but their over/under total was set at 9.5 at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. I really questioned why it was this low. I expected it to be somewhere around 10.5 or 11. As did most other fans and handicappers I spoke to.

For comparison sake, The New England Patriots topped the SuperBook's win totals at 12.5. The Green Bay Packers (10.5), Pittsburgh Steelers (10.5) and Seattle Seahawks (10.5) are the only other teams with double-digit win totals.

So I get it, there aren’t a ton of teams with high win totals. But I still expected a bit more than a mere 9.5 wins for one of the best teams in football!

I immediately thought to myself… OK… well Vegas must be doing this because they know how big and crazy the Cowboys fan base is. They know the fans will bet the hell out of the over, so maybe they think it will even out better in the long run if they open with a low total? I’m just hypothesizing here because of my confusion.

Luckily I was able to find a quote from Westgate’s head oddsmaker who spoke to ESPN about this very issue. Here’s what he said:

"[The Cowboys] went from playing a last-place schedule to this year playing the first-place schedule," Ed Salmons, the Westgate's head football oddsmaker, said. "They're due for regression. It's just the natural ebbs and flows of the NFL."

OK, I learned something. I didn’t know they had the single easiest schedule last year and the single toughest this year. But still, only 9.5 games? Seems like a stretch.

Also, I don’t agree with the “regression” line. I don’t think Dallas is due for a regression. In fact, I think they’ll continue to roll and borderline dominate the NFC.

9.5 wins certainly seems like a low over/under to me, but then again, Vegas always seems to know things we don’t know!

Oh and speaking of low over/under’s, in case you’re wondering, the Browns have the lowest season win total at 4.5 (no surprise), followed by the Jets and San Francisco 49ers, who are each listed at 5.

Get your bets in before ALL of these lines begin to move one way or the other!

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