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January 29, 2020, GMT+0000, 2:30 am
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What Kyler Murray’s Decision Teaches Us About Futures Betting

Kyler Murray is headed to the NFL. The Oklahoma phenom announced yesterday that he is reversing his original decision to play Major League Baseball and will be eligible for the NFL Draft in 2019.

The outcome comes as a surprise when viewed in context of the long-term futures odds for Murray to stay committed to hardball or to take snaps on the gridiron as a professional. Murray’s odds to declare for the NFL Draft ranged as long as 5/1 on some betting boards, even during a football season in which the QB led his school to a Big 12 championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

What lesson may the betting public glean from the Murray news? To not allow a sportsbook’s odds to make something likely seem unlikely.

The best NFL handicappers excel at line forecasting, or predicting what a point spread will look like before taking a peek at the fresh week’s odds out of Las Vegas. The tactic’s advantage is that the line-forecasting gambler is never swayed by the Vegas lines themselves. If a game appears to be a pick’em but is (+/- 6) at the sportsbook, then there is clear value on the underdog to cover. But bettors who look at the point spread before predicting the outcome may be subconsciously swayed from making the proper pick.

It’s hard to convince yourself that an outcome on which Vegas is giving 5/2 odds is actually a 50-50 shot.

In real terms, there was always a better than 5-to-1 chance that Murray would play in the NFL. In fact the NFL betting option may have been the “true favorite.” While the youngster excels as a hurler on the diamond, his path to the majors would involve a slow developmental process in which the Heisman Trophy winner would be asked to ride a bus to play in minor league ballparks. Meanwhile, as an NFL quarterback Murray may be putting his body in more immediate danger, but he’ll also be almost immediately rich.

Time and patience are needed for a young ballplayer to adapt to Major League Baseball. But with the skill set Murray has exhibited as a signal-caller, the NFL might be adapting to him very soon. The 21-year-old QB threw for 37 touchdowns and ran for nearly 900 yards in 2018. He’ll get a chance to start in Week 1 of the National Football League season. Last but not least, Murray’s fantastic speed and spatial awareness could be under-utilized in baseball. The dynamics of the student-athlete’s decision favored the NFL.

Murray’s word and the betting odds told one story. Common sense told another. It’s no puzzle why the celebrated passer will be in an NFL jersey in 2019. And while the soon-to-be-former Sooner’s signing bonus alone may be worth untold riches, gamblers who were sober and level-headed enough to ignore the MLB hype are now fattened on a lesser scale.

Photo from YouTube.

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