Early Football Betting Tips (Part I)

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Early Football Betting Tips (Part I)

I asked what kind of football information people would be interested in reading and Petey suggested going over some tips for betting football. Obviously, this is a complex subject we are discussing. Many different variables go into selecting a particular team such as injuries, trends, line movements, etc. And different cappers have different ways of picking games. I know Jumperjack watches line movements very closely and will often go against the public. Dommylocks goes strictly by his bible and both of these guys have tremendous success when it comes to picking winners. In other words, there is more than one way to skin a cat. I'm a guy that gets by largely due to my knowledge of players and matchups. I don't just want to know how good the starting left tackle is for San Fran, I want to know if his backup can play as well. That's my strength when it comes to capping these teams. On the other hand, my guess is Vegas-Runner could give a rat's ass who is playing left tackle for the 49ers. He's about inside info, strong contacts and getting the best line before it moves. Again, different people bring different things to the table.

Below I'm just going to touch on a couple of things I look for heading into the football season that's been helpful to me early in the year. I decided to break this up into two parts: NFL and CFB. Part I will focus on the NFL.

1. This season isn't last season. This may sound like a simple concept but trust me, way too many people go into a year thinking they are betting on last season's team. It's human nature. We remember the last thing we saw. First of all, if you are watching ESPN, turn off your damn TV. These guys are a joke. Every year their so-called "experts" come on and tell us that this season will go exactly like last season. They will pick the same teams to be good and the same teams to be bad. In the history of the NFL, that's never happened. And when they do pick a "sleeper" it will be a team like the Eagles. The Eagles aren't a sleeper, they are one of the best teams in the NFC. They underperformed last year because of injuries, plain and simple.

But it's not just ESPN. The other day Matty e-mailed me a blog from a handicapper that had his season win totals for the AFC. He picked over on the Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Chargers and Browns. I can't tell you how stupid that is. First of all, the chances of all those teams being the best in the conference again are slim to none. Sure, the Patriots and Colts are always a safe bet simply because they have the two most important players in football. But take the Chargers for instance. For this guy to win his over bet on the Chargers season win total, San Diego would have to have one of its four best seasons in franchise history. Does that sound like value to you? In today's mediocre driven NFL, do you really want to bet that the Norv Turner-led Chargers are going to have one of their best years ever? I sure as hell don't.

So remember, a new year is going to bring a lot of different changes. I will give you a guarantee right now: either the Steelers or Chargers won't make the playoffs this year and when it happens that fat blowfish Chris Berman will insult our intelligence yet again by saying, "No one saw this coming." Actually Chris, if you follow the NFL in 2008, you should expect it.

2. There are very few trap games early in the year. Any good football bettor is always looking for those trap games. You know the ones that look too good to be true? Those games usually start rearing their ugly head the first week of October. Why? See rule No. 1. It takes the books a couple of weeks to get used to a new season. That's why the so-called "squares" win early on but by the time Halloween comes around those bettors are sucking dick for beer money. I used to be a bookie and I had 30-40 people betting with me. I would always get killed during the first three weeks of the season. But then as the leaves started to change, so did their luck. Once the books get a good read on these teams, the lines are so tight that if something looks too easy, it usually is.

But look at Week 1 this year. The Lions are a one-point favorite over the Falcons. Everyone will be on the Lions and everyone is going to win. I have broken down both of these rosters and heading into the season, Atlanta isn't in the same league as Detroit. Granted, anything can happen but my guess is the Lions will win that game by at least 10 points and the books will pay out. But when that same type of game comes around four weeks later, the books get it all back and then some. That's why I never had a job when I took bets. Because even though the public won early, by the time November came around half of my guys were already on a payment plan or trying to sell me their skies to pay off a debt. Unfortunately for them, I have no desire to glide down a hill in the freezing cold, so I held out for the cash instead. It's almost like a drug. Those easy looking games win a lot early on to get people hooked but before long, Joe Square Gambler has his phone disconnected and is staying with a cousin 1,000 miles away for a couple of months.

3. Have your list of sleepers ready to go. Before the season starts, a good idea is to have a couple of teams you think have a chance to get good line value during the first few weeks. When I say "sleeper" I don't mean the Eagles. Everyone and their mother knows Philly will bounce back this year and you aren't going to get any line value with them regardless of the fact that they missed the playoffs last year. A sleeper team to me is someone like the Texans. Houston is steadily getting better every year under Gary Kubiak and I think they could push for a playoff berth this season. It's just too bad that they play in by far the NFL's toughest division. But still, the Texans are going to be a very tough out most weeks. Yet, as you peruse the Week 1 lines, there is Houston getting seven points against Pittsburgh. That represents good value in my opinion. So grab yourself a couple of teams you think the oddsmakers may be off on over the first month and take advantage of it until the books adjust accordingly.

4. Stay away from the bandwagon teams. You know the ones I'm talking about. Let me ask you a question. How many times have you heard this comment so far this offseason, "I really think the Vikings/Bills are going to be improved this year." I'm not saying it won't be the case but the books know who these teams are as well, meaning you don't get much value with them early on. Seriously, I've heard so many people talk about Buffalo this offseason that I thought Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas came out of retirement. Hey, the Bills fought like hell last year and had a good season despite dealing with more injuries than any other team in the league. And I do think they made some nice moves this offseason to get better. But this is also the same Bills team I saw the Patriots and Giants toy with on their home field like they were a JV high school squad.

That's why when one well respected media member said to me during the draft, "I think Buffalo can compete with the Patriots in the AFC East this year," I replied, "Are you out of your mind? The Patriots won this division by nine games last year. Are you telling me you think Buffalo closed the gap by nine games in one offseason?" Just be careful with teams like this, especially the Vikings. Sorry Hellerud but the presence of Adrian Peterson alone will drive down Minnesota lines because the public will be riding them early and often.

5. Know your coaches. For a guy like me who relies heavily on analysis and matchups, this is an absolute must. It's important to not only know head coaches but coordinators as well. That's a very underrated aspect of breaking down a team. We all know Jim Zorn is the new head coach of the Redskins but what kind of coach is he? Who did he coach under? What offensive system does he prefer? Who is his offensive coordinator and who will call the plays? I won't list all that information here because there are too many coaching changes to break down right now but I would strongly advise getting familiar with all the new head coaches and coordinators around the league.

A lot of people believe talent wins games. That's true sometimes but it's not true all the time. Coaching plays a huge part in the outcome of NFL games because most of these teams are all jumbled together and a good or bad coach can make the difference. Listen to what a personnel guy with the Patriots told me just before the playoffs started: "The only team we are worried about talent-wise is the Cowboys. They have the best overall talent in the NFC by far. If you look at them on paper, they can really compete with us. However, they lack the coaching to go anywhere. They should roll through the NFC but more than likely, they'll lose in the first round." Of course, the Patriots probably should have been a little bit more worried about the Giants but that's a discussion for another time.

So these are just a few of the things I focus on as I prepare for the upcoming NFL season. And like I said, this is just one blog post. There are many more factors that could be added here. If you would like to add some of the theories or strategies you use to get ready for the upcoming season, feel free. Or if you think I'm way off on something, fire away. Remember, intelligent discussion now leads to us all making more money down the road.

  • Thanks Anzio. Yeah, I guess the Lions game was a trap after all, huh? lol Don't sleep on the Texans yet though. I like them to bounce back strong this week against the Ravens. Glad this helped you out.

  • I thuroughly enjoyed reading this and being a beginner bettor have found it as valuable info. I do find it hilarious that you used the detroit / Atlanta game as your example and look what happened. I bet on detroit to and OUCH!

  • In CFB, last two years I statrted 19-3, and 21-4 based primarily on Rule 1 (This Year Is Not Last Year), and Rule 5 (Know Your Coaches).

    With really indepth research, the first 2 weeks is a GOLDMINE - leftover, incorrect public perceptions can truly create tremedous value.  

  • excellnet & insightful info T-rider, lookin forward to your NFL picks this coming season.....

  • Thanks guys. Great addition about the Broncos Chad. I'm going to look into that more. And Matty, my point about the traps is it's not like later in the year when we have a good beat on the teams and you look at a line and say, "What the hell?" The truth is the Rams sucked last year, we just didn't know how bad they were in Week 1. Six weeks later if you saw the same spread, a red flag the size of Las Vegas would come up. It's hard to explain what I'm trying to say but my point is in October everyone has a read on the teams so a trap game is much easier to spot. Hell, the Lions may win 10 games like Kitna keeps promising. I just think if I saw that same Lions/Falcons spread a month later, if the teams wind up being the kind of teams I think they will, I would run for the hills and not touch it. But in Week 1 I'm betting the Lions. Let the Falcons prove to me that they are much better than I project they are going to be. Am I making any sense? I just know one thing, ask any bookie on the planet and I think they will tell you the only time they lose during football season is early on. In five years of doing it, I hardly ever payed out once October came around.

  • very great info.. keep the stuff coming tommy!

  • I've found Week #1 in the NFL is one of the HARDEST to Handicap. There's ALWAYS that UPSET Shocker. With that said........as of right now my best play is Colts -9 vs Bears.

  • Great stuff Tommy - I would have to say that Week 1 has a few traps simply because of public perception going into the season.  I know this because I fell for one last year in taking the Rams in the season opener against the Panthers.  The line seemed almost too good to be true (like the Lions game) at -3 with the Rams at home, yet they were blown out by the Panthers.  The hard part obviously is that you won't know what the trap games are in the first week until you actually see these teams play for the first time.  Just an observation and something I learned the hard way.

  • NOT so FAST my FRIEND!!! Denver -1 vs Oakland. You'd BETTER look a LITTLE closer at the MATCHUPS in this Game!

  • great  job rider with this topic, very good read, now we just have to wait till kickoff

  • I couldn't agree with you more on coaching.  As you may know, besides being a Bears homer like Matty, I also follow the Broncos.  I've found that the Broncos are consistently unprepared for their first road game of the year EVERY friggin season.  Granted, last season Jason Elam's FG with time expiring gave the Broncos a 15-14 win at Buffalo in their first road game (though not covering), but prior to that they lost their first road games in the last three seasons:

    '06 lost to STL 18-10, '05 lost to Miami 34-10, '04 lost at Jax 7-6

    The Broncos didn't do shit in the offseason to improve their squad, so how are they 1 point favorites against an Oakland that took them to OT in Denver and beat them in Oakland?  Oakland looks like they've made improvements in the offseason, the Broncos stand pat, and yet Denver is still a road favorite in week 1?  My money goes on Oakland in week 1.

  • Thanks for the feedback guys. Yes, after the first couple of weeks, if you aren't betting dogs in the NFL you will most likely go down for the dirt nap. I have this moron of a cousin. I wouldn't call him a square because he's 5'2 and about 300 pounds. He's more of a "round." Anyway, he wins big every year during the first couple of weeks betting favorites and then gets killed the rest of the season. The only time he takes a dog is if it really isn't an underdog like when the Patriots and Colts play. That's not really a dog, just someone has to be catching points out of the two. After 15 years, you would think the fat bastard would have learned his lesson by now but every year it's the same thing. You can set your watch to it. Luckily for him, that inevitable heart attack should be coming any day now to put him out of his misery.

  • Great stuff to think about Touchdown Tommy.  It's definitely true to be square early on, I know personally I've had much more success early on in the season.  Start capping those coaches....

  • good info TR....20 yrs ago I probably never bet a dog in NFL...always leaned to favs.......normal reaction especially for beginning bettors.....u see the line and your brain automatically looks at the fav but u forget that they not only have to win but win by 3 4 7 whatever and avoid an upset.

    anyway I still have that 'square' part working in my head so whenI look at the lines and see a fav that I just love I now take the dog because that obvious fav is usually a loser.

    I bet favs and dogs but more dogs than used to and it works out well