NFL Handicapping

NFL Handicapping: Preparing for the Season

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

We know that to be a capable handicapper, we can’t just show up on week one and start getting into it. We need to be prepared. A lot of changes take place in the NFL–now more than ever before. Players used to regularly stay with one team for years on end. Now the number of player moves can be downright difficult to follow. And when studying the teams, don’t forget to study yourself. Hopefully, you have been keeping good records and making astute observations about your betting. It’s time to make adjustments. Both in our view of teams and our own betting profile.

The bottom line is that you cannot bet on teams without knowing the players and the important match-ups. No one is saying you need to be able to name who the Seahawks’ backup tackles are or name the right guard for the Redskins and stuff like that. But there are draft picks and player acquisitions throughout the off-season that are game-changers and have the potential to completely change the complexion of the team.

Never get locked onto a perception of a team. Sure, last year’s good teams are the frontrunners to become the good teams this year, but things can change on a dime in this league. Last year’s powerhouses might have come down a notch, while the doormats might be in the midst of a resurrection. Doing your research and staying on top of everything will keep you one step ahead of the game. The key is to know things before the rest of the world does.

Tip: Don’t get locked into betting at the same sportsbook either. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t shop for the best deals prior to each football season. Online Sportsbooks WANT your business and are willing to offer you KILLER promotions to gain your business. We’re not saying that you should not be loyal to your current bookie, just that you should consider other options as well in addition. Many sportsbooks offer incentive bonuses for you to deposit and play at their site. Not only is this free money of good value, but it also offers you the ability to shop for the best line. Not all sportsbooks are created equal! Many have different lines. How many times have you lost by a half point? Did you know that most pros shop lines at around 10 different online betting sites? The pros always make sure that they’re betting into the best possible line and it makes a huge difference; up to 3% on their winning percentage! Check out our list of online sportsbooks to see what great deals you can nail down today!

Coaching changes can alter a team’s complexion, too. Pay special attention to teams with head coaching changes or even key new hirings at the coordinator positions. Throughout history, we see teams improve immediately under a new coach. And sometimes, a team loses its mojo if their coach retires or moves to another team. Either way, it’s a challenge that the bettors of yesteryear didn’t have. The coaching carrousel in the NFL can be hectic.

Now that you got the heads up on the teams, what about you? We need to analyze our own handicapping almost like how a head coach runs his team. But in order to make a quality assessment of yourself, you need records. Sure, there are some general things you might see that need improvement. Maybe you can manage your money better or not make bets trying to get back to even. But to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in the actual handicapping of games, you need detailed records.

Don’t just keep track of your won-loss record against the spread and your bankroll. Describe the bet in greater detail. What was the spread? Did you get lucky to beat the spread or were you unlucky in losing. Account for critical details. Where did the line open, where did it close, and where in that range did you fall? Why did you win or lose the bet?

Now you can go back and try to make some characterizations of your betting. Do you have bad results with a certain type of bet, like taking favorites at 10 or more points? Maybe you have a lousy record betting road underdogs between 3 and 6 points. Are you consistently getting a number that is worse than the closing line? Did you overrate something like a team being a high-ranked rushing team facing a defense that ranks low against the rush?

But be careful not to make rash judgments about your betting based on a small sample pool. You might make a few dozen bets and think you can draw conclusions. The best you can do with a small sample pool is begin to see good and bad patterns. But for something to be a reality, it needs to be tested over a large collection of different games. So we need to exercise caution with making false adjustments just for the sake of changing. Losing 5 out of 6 bets on road dogs at 3-6 points doesn’t really tell you anything. We need to make make quality adjustments and sometimes that can only happen after evaluating a large assortment of bets.