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Don't Overemphasize Offense

NFL Betting Tips: Don't Over-Emphasizing Offense

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

It’s very difficult to not place a disproportional amount of importance on offense when analyzing NFL teams. Our whole lives, everyone talks about offense more--from people we know to the voices we hear in the media. Our minds get inundated with information from a very young age with how important offense is. The result is that when we become betting men, it can be very difficult to shake loose of all the mental conditioning we spent our whole lives acquiring.

Who were the first players you took a liking to when you started watching NFL football? They were probably star offensive players. As a kid, watching a guy running downfield with the ball for a score is easier to understand than a clutch 3rd down tackle. These feelings get affirmed as we began paying attention to NFL coverage. On the news, we saw highlights of touchdown catches, not shutdown pass coverage.

We might even watch movies about football growing up. Every game is a humongous offensive shootout. The games we remember as a kid are the shootouts. 30+ years later, every kid in San Diego can tell you about San Diego’s overtime win over Miami in a furious shootout. No one remembers the time San Diego’s defense held a team scoreless in the second half in the mid-90’s.

The most famous players and teams are offensive. Good defensive teams get only a fraction of the publicity of the powerful offensive juggernauts. Players who are named MVP are always offensive guys. Sometimes, it is deserved. A quarterback might very well be a big part of the reason a team is doing well. It’s just that there might be a game-changing defensive player who is just as much an asset to his team--and he doesn’t get anywhere close to the same amount of pub.


What does this all mean to the betting man? Well, we know that it's very human to overvalue offense. Consider what that does to the lines. The bookie knows all this. that’s why he’s still in business. He is completely aware of the public fascination with offense and how that affects the betting. Offense gets bet on more than defense.

In other words, the spreads and totals are set with the knowledge that the public is enamored with offense. A lot of the time, it won’t be that obvious. If Buffalo is playing Kansas City, this element isn’t really at play. But if New England is playing Baltimore, we might have to look at it with a curious eye. The Patriots are typically an offensively explosive team. Baltimore might be almost as good, but are known exclusively for defense. If you like Baltimore, you would be less concerned about taking a bad-value bet.

Now imagine if the 2013 New England Patriots were to play a team like the Packers. We have two offensive juggernauts going at it. People like offense and therefore, they predict offense. The opening total will likely be set at least a tick high, as the bookie knows people will naturally be thinking “over.” Then after a week of betting, it is likely that number will be even higher. If you like “under,” you can use the public fascination on offense in your favor.

You will find this is not any kind of a system. This does not mean to bet the “under” anytime you see two strong offenses going at it. Before you even think of any of these considerations, your handicapping should be pointing you in the same direction. We shouldn’t just blindly start taking darkhorse teams facing high-flying offensive teams or the “under” when two good offenses are playing. But if our handicapping has us taking the “under” in the Patriots-Packers game, we can just enjoy the added nugget of comfort that we are probably getting extra value in our favor.

This practice might take a while to start reaping benefits. Then again, it’s not a system. It’s just a way for us to to get the best value out of our wagering dollar. And we know that playing “follow the leader” is a sure way to end up with the short end of the stick when it comes to value. If we can selectively use the public’s fascination with offense in our favor, it’s just another way to make sure we are getting long-term solid value in our wagering.

For more articles like this, check out our NFL Betting Tips Page.

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