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Handicapping Offensive Lines

NFL Betting Tips: Handicapping Offensive Lines

By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

It’s advice we hear all the time, but how many of us adhere to it? We know the offensive line is critical, that everything that happens offensively is facilitated by the guys in front. We know that, yet it is surprising how many people pay it merely passing thought. When handicapping games, sinking our teeth into the importance of the offensive line can pay huge dividends.

It’s easy to see why so many people don’t pay adequate attention to the offensive line. It’s not as fun. There aren’t many highlights available with the O-line. Even in high school, the quarterback would be dating the homecoming queen, while offensive linemen were stuck with the weird girl from The Breakfast Club. The heroes are the ones who hold the ball. The guys who block don’t get as much love. But we’re not girls looking to date the most popular player or a producer on a highlight show putting together the most compelling footage. We’re trying to make money on football. That means we better pay attention to the guys who have been denied attention so long--the big guys up front.

There is a ton of subtlety and skill that goes into being an offensive linemen. These are some of the more athletic big men on the planet. Sure, we may be watching the quarterback drop back, but if the line isn’t doing what they’re supposed to up front, it will all be for naught. It’s not easy to repel rampaging defenders who have put their entire lives into this. That’s why you see so many offensive linemen chosen so highly in the draft--ahead of a lot of the guys who will be handling the ball.

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We need to always stay aware of the changing complexions of an offensive line. Every year, there are exiting veterans and incoming youngsters. Guys get injured and we have to determine the worth of the replacement. Things can change from week-to-week. Different linemen thrive and suffer against different defenses or different players. There is a lot of possible research to do and a ton of information to follow.

Never disregard the impact of losing an offensive lineman. There may be the occasion where a struggling lineman or one is just isn’t up-to-snuff goes down and a potentially better player is waiting in the wings. For the most part, however, a loss on the offensive line can really reverberate horribly, especially if the particular matchup for that replacement figures to be detrimental. You never want to see a free agent rookie tackle out of Austin Peay suddenly lined up against one of the best defensive ends in the league. Let’s say a top tackle on the team goes down and the team is shallow in that area. If the opposing DE who will line up with that player is a real beast, it could be a game-changer.

The importance of the center cannot be overstated. When a team has a veteran center who is on the same page as the quarterback, it looks so automatic that it can be taken for granted. Wait until that center goes down and then you’ll see it’s not as easy as it looks. Put a young replacement in there or a lineman where that’s not even his best position and you will see that offense having all kinds of knocks and pangs it never had before.

A lot of times, we may handicap a game and think we did a pretty good job. Then we tune in and see one defensive player basically control the game, The quarterback doesn’t have time to think. A normally-productive running back is stuffed up the whole game. You’ll be wondering what happened, when it really all came down to a personnel issue on the offensive line.

As NFL bettors, we have to respect the stature of a capable or even all-pro offensive linemen. Not everyone can do it, If we don’t pay attention, it’s easy to miss what makes a top offensive linemen. Not all offensive linemen who make it to the NFL are on the same plateau as it comes to ability. The range can be quite drastic. So we can’t take anything for granted as it relates to the offensive line. We need to spend extra time going over it and making sure we’re not making some gigantic oversight. It could cost us a lot of bets.

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