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Early Season NFL Football Betting

Early Season NFL Football Betting

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

A lot stays the same from year-to-year in the NFL, but a lot of stuff changes, as well. And before the writing is on the wall, we need to be in there cashing winners—staying ahead of the curve. One of the best times to do that is early in the NFL regular season, a time when nothing is etched in concrete. Things are still fluid and less-defined. People are still developing their new understanding of players and teams. And when things are more wide-open, that's typically an opportunistic time for pro football bettors.

Betting is intrinsically tied to perception. And when it comes to the NFL, perception takes time to perfect. Again, there are certain things you can count on, but enough things change to make it a potentially profitable time for the enterprising bettor who can stand behind his convictions and act on them. In this article, we take a look at some different reasons why early-season NFL wagering can be a bonanza for the astute betting man. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Soft Lines: Don't think the bookies are asleep at the wheel. But a lot of what they do is tied into public perception. And from we know about public perception, it's not always on-point. People only believe what they see first-hand. So if a team is poised to either improve or deteriorate, the public will usually be late to the dance. In addition, a lot of offseason maneuvers can be misconstrued. A big-name acquisition will be overly accounted for or a coaching change will be processed wrong. If you can hone in on something before the rest of the world does, it's not hard to see how that can put you in a good spot early in the NFL season.

Pay Attention to Training Camp: A lot can be ascertained during training camp. This applies to all teams in all different kinds of situations. You can see which players are either thriving or suffering. How a new coach's system is going over can be detected in camp. An unheard-from rookie can start turning heads. You can see how an offensive line that has some new pieces is gelling. Maybe a team has identified a diamond-in-the-rough run stopper in the middle of the D-line. It can be any number of things. But once it manifests in a regular season game, that knowledge does us few favors. We need to see it before everyone else does.

Analyze the Changes in Personnel: Again, a lot of us this can be learned by paying attention to camp, where new players are being worked into the systems. This applies to incoming rookies or veterans, in addition to reserves who might now be occupying starting spots. Naturally, a lot of media attention will go to the big names—the top picks in the draft or the stars who switched teams or are coming back from injuries. But how many times in the middle of an NFL season have you kicked yourself for not knowing about the game-changing ability of a player who was more off-the-radar? Sometimes, we need to go off-the-grid and account for some the lower-profile difference-makers.

Keeping an Open Mind: At the end of the day, a lot of the teams that you think are good are going to be good. The same applies to the reverse scenario with bad teams. But this is a fickle league, where teams are never that far away from either hitting a crescendo or nose-diving into oblivion. Again, a good chunk of the league will remain stable. Within that framework, however, are a lot of variations.

Steer Clear of Media Bias: The purpose of sports media is not to guide people with their sports betting. Therefore, we need to use them for strictly informational purposes. If it has to do with a key player's return to play, that's the kind of thing you want the media for. We don't need them to form our opinions on football. At the beginning of the season, when nothing has been spelled out, the media help form reality to a large degree when it comes to players and teams. Naturally, there are going to be a lot of times where we agree with the general media sentiment, but there will also be times when our conclusions stand in contrast with what the media is saying. It's important to stand by your insight and not rely on the media to form your thoughts.


Betting Against the Public: Going against the betting public is typically profitable early in the season. This is before anything is solid. We think we might know, but we really don't know for sure yet. Bettors will gravitate to the good teams, blissfully unaware of any deterioration that may have occurred in the offseason or issues in training camp. What we need to do is be aware of the winds of change before they become a tornado. In other words, when the writing is on the wall—it's too late. Any differences we may have in evaluation of teams or players with the "general consensus" will reflect in the point spread. Not that we blindly want to just go against the betting public, but it's actually not all that bad of a move in the early going.

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