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Media Bias and NFL Betting

Football Betting Strategy: The Affect of Media Bias on NFL Betting

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Sports bettors, from the beginner to the pro, watch NFL-oriented programing on TV. It's a good way to get information. We can't always watch every single game or visit every training camp to figure out what's going on. It shouldn't be a problem, as long as we are able to keep it in its proper perspective.

These TV shows are interested in ratings. That is what drives the content. They're not so much interested in presenting an even-handed view of the sport. And they are certainly not interested in tailoring their coverage for the needs of the betting man. So when we watch these shows, we should take it with a grain of salt.

They are interested in viewership. That means major markets. It means the marquee teams and players. It means quarterbacks. It means offense. Watch some of these shows in the preseason and you'll see how it works. Don't expect to hear much about offensive lines that might have improved. Don't expect to see expanded coverage on teams like the Tennessee Titans or Jacksonville Jaguars.

If you were putting together a football-geared TV show, you would be trying to cover what is of most interest to the average NFL fan. For those of us who are experienced in the world of NFL betting, we know that news governed to suit the everyday fan is of little use to the man who is trying to cover spreads and win money. It's a completely different world altogether.

There is a big-market bias in the world of NFL coverage--there's no two ways about it. Then again, it's not really a crime. These shows never purported to be the singular authority in the sport. Sure, it would be nice to see a widening of the coverage, but then again, that is our job as handicappers. We are the ones who need to get in between the lines for information that could help us win.

There are some bettors who get affected by it. All they hear about are the big teams--both New York teams, the Patriots, the Cowboys, and maybe a few others. They hear about quarterback battles and issues constantly. They also hear a ton about offensive skill position players. At the end of the day, it's hard to resist the inundation and not emerge with a somewhat-tilted view of the sport.

The last thing we want to do as NFL bettors is to start unconsciously signing off on the reality that is pushed by the various NFL programs. If anything, we already have some of that stuff in our head. On average, the typical betting man pays too much attention to quarterbacks, offense, and glamor teams. Watching these shows can serve to only further pound those ideas into our heads.

Look at it this way--by the time a team is at a point where they're getting tons of national coverage and attention, they are probably not that great of a value. It's the teams no one is talking about that we want to focus on. Never equate a team's attention level with their worthiness from a betting standpoint. If anything, it's the teams who are never discussed that usually have the best seasons in an against-the-spread sense.

You can almost sense with these TV programs when they're trying to squeeze in some info for the more-informed NFL fan. They'll spend a half-hour discussing a running back's comeback from surgery, then give 45 seconds on a team losing their best offensive lineman. Again, when it comes to NFL betting, the real nuggets of knowledge lie in the crevasses underneath.


We need to make sure we don't unwittingly fall into this way of thinking where all that matters is big-name signings, quarterbacks, top receivers, and teams that have a big national following. While they're talking about Aaron Rodgers for an hour, we should be doing things like studying the Carolina offensive line for signs of an upgrade.

A lot of what they talk about on these TV shows matter. And the guys on those shows do in fact usually know a ton about the sport. We just need to constantly remind ourselves that as betting men, we are governed by a completely different set of factors. Some of the things that interest the average fan are things we need to know. But for the most part, success in NFL betting will come down to information and insight that is not available on TV shows that are geared for fans.

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