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Overlooked Aspects of NFL Wagering

NFL Betting: Overlooked Aspects of NFL Wagering

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

NFL wagering forces us to take into a account a slew of factors, many of which are steeped in stats, records, and other hallmark handicapping factors. But as we know, this game isn’t played on paper. In order to keep our heads above water as bettors, we need to rely on other information, in addition to tapping into different pieces of relevant insight.

One helpful course of action is to wait until you’re in the last third or quarter of an NFL season and look for improved teams--ones that are not getting a lot of attention because they aren’t in the playoff mix. Late in an NFL season, most of the news will center around the playoff chase or maybe which individual players are doing either really well or not good at all. The focus of the public and media is not on bottom-third teams who are showing signs of life. People are talking about the playoffs, not whether the 3-8 Panthers have improved and are going to be a good late-season team against the spread.

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Not that all bettors are guided by ESPN headlines, but we can sometimes find the rest of the world is sleeping on certain teams. These teams are under .500 and bettors aren’t typically going out of their way to bet them. That means we can find some nice value. It makes it worth looking into and it goes beyond merely reviewing the final scores. You have to watch the teams. Sometimes, it occurs almost imperceptibly, where a team whose postseason hopes are dashed start congealing under a first-year coach or young players start hitting their stride.

A lot of beginning bettors tend to neglect linebacking. Sounds like a weird thing to do, but it’s understandable to a certain degree. After all, linebacking is in kind of a gray-area statistically. Even though it’s a sometimes-faulty way to gauge defensive strength, many judge a secondary from how many passing yards they give up, while the D-line is judged by the opponent’s run effectiveness. With linebackers, there’s no convenient stat that paints a picture.

Many bettors look for superstar linebackers, real game-changers who get a lot of publicity. If handicapping a game where neither team has all-pro linebackers, they will chalk it up as a wash and reserve their meaningful analysis for the line and secondary. That type of limited handicapping can really come back to bite you. And a linebacking corps doesn’t necessarily need to have any superstars on it to be great. We need to go a little more out of our way to do it, but we have to try to find clues to the game wherever we can and sometimes linebacker play can make enough of a difference to sway the spread in our favor.

That also reminds us to always assess the match-up dynamic of this game. We have to check ourselves constantly to make sure we are not gauging teams off their individual prowess, rather than how those teams will play off each other when combined into a game format. In a lot of areas of life, we judge things as individual entities. It can be which woman we think is better-looking, what car we would rather drive, or what we want to have for dinner. Those daily decisions take place in the dynamic of a comparison, where we judge an option as being either superior or inferior to a different option.

In a football game or any athletic event, it’s the game that is important. That seems like it would go without saying, but then you’d be surprised how many people handicap a football game like it’s a Mr. Universe contest. The teams get judged individually, blinding us from how those strengths or weaknesses will play off each other.

Be on the lookout for mental checkout. This can happen to any team, but where it really seems to bite people is when betting favorites. An NFL season, while only 16 games long, can feature some peaks and valleys that can either be graphic or more subtle. Let’s say there’s a really good team coming off a successful run against some top teams. Then they’re facing a lower-end non-conference team they have no real connection to. Their playoff spot is locked up for the most part and there is nothing terribly urgent about the game.

The time to bet that team was when it was getting better value in games that were really important while facing teams that evoke a sense of respect and urgency. Betting them at the end of that demanding stretch when they’re heavily-favored could be a bad move. Not always, but it never hurts to be on the lookout for when the favorite you like might be due for a letdown.

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