Getting it Right, But Being Wrong

NFL Betting: Getting it Right But Being Wrong

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

When you bet on NFL football, you will be faced many times with the unpleasant prospect of handicapping a game properly, only to lose the wager over some unforeseen occurrences. It’s an unfortunate part of football betting that comes with the territory. You may have made a really slick pick, only to get snake-bitten by the human element that rules the game.

It can happen in any number of ways. You handicap the game and it goes according to plan. Then right at the end, when you’re right on the precipice of winning the wager, some little quirk or wrinkle presents itself, and costs you a winning bet. It can be very difficult to stomach. In fact, it’s easier to mentally cope with losing a bet where your teams was just blown out of the water. It’s much easier to unravel after losing a bet you really should have won.

The referees will often be at the root of it. Even if your bet looks like a winner, you’re never more than a few bad calls away from that bet becoming a loser. A touchdown gets called back because of a phantom holding call. A key pass-interference penalty puts the other team down at the 1-yard line late when the defender barely touched him. Any number of bizarre calls can throw a big wrench into your plans.

You’d think instant replay would provide some relief. In some cases it will. But penalties that are called will stand. And a lot of times, when you think instant replay will bail you out of a bad situation, it fails to do so. The criteria of “indisputable evidence” is interpreted differently by various officiating crews and even though it looks clear to you, don’t assume you’re always going to get the right call in your favor.

As bettors, we can only be so indignant when bad calls take place. We knew before even laying our first NFL bet that these things happen. Complaining about it is akin to going to the beach and complaining about the sand. Sure, it stings. It leaves us feeling jinxed and victimized. At the same time, we know that bad officiating is part of doing business. Over time, our handicapping ability should be able to keep us ahead. That doesn’t mean demoralizing things won’t happen along the way that force us to use all our inner-resource to withstand it.

Player error can also play a big role. Again, we know going in that no one will be perfect. Even professionals make mistakes and sometimes they’re of the ultra-bonehead variety. It won’t be long before you see it happen. You have a team to win on the money line. With 1:45 left, your team stops the opponent on 4th down and now just has to run out the clock to secure a win. But wait! A lineman shoved an opposing player to the ground after the play, giving them a new set of downs. They go on to score and you lose the bet.

It can be really painful. After all, you’re betting on supposed professionals. It’d be one thing if you were betting on a low-end college game, but at the NFL level, you don’t really expect to see such flagrant idiocy on the gridiron. Sure, we expect things like penalties, errors, and other mistakes during the game. But when an individual player costs his team a win based on a bush-league maneuver, it can really be a load to overcome mentally.

Other things can pop up in a game that we could not have prepared for, no matter how thorough our handicapping may have been. Late in the game, perhaps the coach botches the time management component of the game or mismanages his use of timeouts. A key player can get injured during the game, throwing your game analysis into a tailspin. An opposing player can explode and put up stats that greatly surpass anything he’s ever done on the field. Anything can really happen and it often does.


Knowing that, how we handle it is really the key. Again, we need to have the confidence to know our effectiveness as handicappers is something that is proven over the long-haul. Nothing that happens in one game, regardless of how cruel it may seem, is going to make or break us. So when snake-bitten on an NFL wager, we need to keep ourselves in check and realize this has been happening to bettors since before we were even born.