HOW TO BET THE FINAL WEEKS BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS
By Rob Crowne
© Rob Crowne Assoc. December 23, 2012
NFL Playoff time is almost here again. Sports bettors always seem surprised by some of the results in the final 2-3 weeks before the playoffs. Just this past Sunday, for example, New England, one of the best teams in the NFL this season, was favored by 14 points but struggled to beat one of the worst teams in the NFL, Jacksonville.
The Pre-Playoff month in the NFL cannot be handicapped and bet in the same way as the rest of the season. There are certain rules that should be followed rigorously if you want to be successful in the pre-playoff period.
RULE 1: NEVER BET ON A TEAM THAT DOES NOT NEED THE GAME TO CLINCH A PLAYOFF SPOT OR TO WIN THEIR DIVISION..
That includes teams that are eliminated and teams that have already clinched. If the team doesn't need the game for one of the two purposes, don't bet on it. Be careful, though. Don't bet on a team at any line only because it needs the game (See Rule 2).
One of the mistakes bettors make is to bet on a team because it needs a game for the home field. Many teams simply don’t care about the home field. If they can get it fine, but avoiding injury is generally more important to the players and the teams than having the home field.
RULE 2: BET ONLY ON TEAMS THAT HANDICAP TO COVER THE SPREAD WITHOUT REGARD TO PLAYOFF STANDING. NEVER BET ON A TEAM JUST BECAUSE THEY NEED THE GAME AND THEIR OPPONENT DOES NOT.
The public believes that a team is more likely to win because it needs the game, particularly when playing against a team that has been eliminated. The line-makers are aware of that belief and normally skew the line against the team that needs the game and will therefore be most likely going to be bet by the public.
A team that needs the game can only play up to their ability. Needing the game does not give the QB a stronger arm, or make the running backs faster, or increase the strength and quickness of the defensive line. Thus, although you will only bet the team that needs the game because the other team might not be trying, the team that needs the game must be able to cover the spread if the opponent is trying. While it is true that there is no limit to the extent that a team that has been eliminated or that has already clinched can lay down, you can't bet against them only for that reason unless you know for sure that they won’t come to play up to their full abilities.
Remember, the line will probably be skewed against the team that needs the game. If they handicap to cover the spread anyway, make the bet. Pass if the team that has clinched or that has been eliminated handicaps to cover. Absent an announcement by the team, if you bet on or against a team because you believe they will or won't come to play you will only be guessing. The smart money doesn't gamble. They invest based on knowledge and research. That means the smart money never depends on guesses.
SUMMARY: Bet only on teams that need the game to clinch a playoff spot or to win their division when they handicap to cover the spread. Only then can you be certain that the team will not lay down, will come to play, and has the ability to win.