NFL Betting: Preseason Signs That a Team Will Cover Spreads
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
At the beginning of the NFL season, it's not a bad idea to scout teams along the general lines of \whether or not they will have good value in the upcoming season. A lot of teams will fall somewhere in the middle. But there usually is a large group of teams that will either be over or undervalued. Let's look at some of the potential signs that a team will be undervalued.
For a team to be underrated, some elements need to be in place. Not all of them are very promising. Just remember that as NFL bettors, we're not looking to decide what team is going to the Super Bowl unless we're placing a futures bet. Otherwise, we're looking to cover spreads. Some of the things that allow a team to cover spreads are not things you want to see as a fan.
Look for a team that had a deceivingly-bad record in the previous season. When you see a team was 5-11, that could mean a few different things. Maybe that team was truly awful, won all of its 5 games by very close margins, and was blown out in most of its losses. Then you could easily have a 5-11 team that lost a slew of games by narrow margins. A few of their losses were on complete flukes or bad calls. A few twists go the other way, that team can easily be 10-6.
Look for low-key changes in personnel that could make a big difference. When it comes to offseason player moves, what gets the most attention are the quarterbacks or skill guys changing teams. Or where the hotshot college quarterbacks went. A lot of time, not enough attention will be paid to lower-profile player moves. Look for teams that quietly solidified their secondary. Maybe their interior D-line will be tougher against the run. Look for offensive lines that made a big jump up in quality.
A good sign in an against-the-spread sense is when a team actually loses certain glamor players. That might run counter to everything you know to be true about football. No one is saying losing key stars from a team is a good thing for that team's championship possibilities. But when looking to cover an inordinate amount of spreads, we look for different things than what fans want. Often times when a team loses some highly-visible players, the stock drops too far and the betting public is too quick to write off that team.
In football, sometimes watched water never boils. In other words, a team may never seem to fill its potential when the expectations are very high. Then when the eyes of a nation are diverted somewhere else, that team actually thrives. The bad influence of pressure can really resonate with athletes, even at this level. They don't play as well and certainly don't cover a ton of spreads, with the number being inflated by the high expectations.
In the NFL, bad offseason publicity might be good for that team's value in the upcoming season. A fan doesn't want to hear negativity pouring out concerning their team, but it can lead to reduced public confidence, which is a main precursor for getting good betting value. When members of the general betting public only hear bad things all spring and summer, it leaves them assuming that team is in big trouble in an against-the-spread sense, which might not be the case.
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This doesn't mean that everything that looks like doo-doo is a diamond in the rough. Sometimes junk is junk. What we want to do is look between the lines and see if there isn't some silver lining in the black clouds. For example, maybe a team lost a key player, but you suspect his replacement will be as good if not better. In other words, not every piece of bad news will end up producing bad results.
With teams where everything looks great, where is the betting value? A team made all the right moves in the offseason and signed big names. Their draft is filled with celebrated college players. They proved they were good in the previous season. Everyone will be looking for teams like this to have a good year. To make it in NFL betting, we have to sometimes force ourselves to look a little more off-the-grid for good value.