The public does fall in love with some games and the old saying “If it looks to good to be true” still remains strong. Sure the books still cash big when the public overwhelmingly loves a side of an NFL game. But let’s look at the Sunday NFL schedule as an example. Let’s say we look at the most popular 10 games and have the public pick the winners of each of those 10 games. Most likely the public will hit an average of 4-6 of those 10 games. Simple mathematics will tell you that fading the public as your only method of handicapping may prove to not be a wise decision. When you take in to consideration in the NFL that the public often does bet the better team you have to wonder if only fading the public can even win.
Sure we recommend using the “public” as part of your handicapping but make sure you use other tools. The best handicapper will never be stubborn or never think they are smarter than the oddsmakers. Never discard important handicapping methods. Take it all in to consideration. Here are some important factors a handicapper should take in to consideration in the NFL.
1. Quarterbacks – Sure you need more than just a quarterback but often it’s a very simple question you have to ask yourself.
2. Running Game – Often if you have no chance of running the ball you are in for a long day on the field. Also with a favorite who can run the ball will have a better chance of covering that favorite spread.
3. Offense and Defense Lines – The average Joe will not pay attention to this part of handicapping and it’s so simple. Sometimes you have a mismatch in the trenches that will say a lot.
4. Home and Away – Examine this carefully. Some teams can not play to a high level on the road and some don’t care if they are home or away. With some teams who are not that good usually have the ability to turn it on in front of the home fans.
5. Trends – There is debate on whether it’s better to fade or follow trends but sometimes it’s good to know if a team has beaten a team 12 times in a row. After a while it gets in the head of players.
6. Field Goal Kickers – If you can’t kick a 40 yard field goal it changes everything. Make sure you know who your kicker is.
7. Revenge – Some people say revenge doesn’t matter but these athletes are competitive and they do remember if they received a butt kicking the last time they played.
8. Line Movement – As much as we say don’t use it as your only way of handicapping. A good handicapper will take notice. Pay attention and see if you can find a trend.
9. On Deck – More so in college football but many times you will find a team that is not 100% focused on the game at hand with an even bigger game next week.
10. Pressure – Some teams handle pressure very well and some teams are king of the chokers. You can usually get a feel for the way a team is. If it’s all on the line and a team has proven they are not very good in critical situations, don’t expect that to change over night.
Bottom Line: There is no right way or wrong way to handicap a game but always be ready to learn and take advice. Don’t let pride get in the way. Also stay away from teams that you have a rooting interest in as a fan. It’s hard to remain objective and although you think you are objective often you are not.
Handicapping is not a sprint. Do not try and get rich over night. Realize it’s a marathon and set up reasonable goals. Make sure you are prepared. Factor in everything and never think you are better than the oddsmaker. If you are able to do this objectively you might just set yourself up for a winning season.