By Tony George
I was aksed numerous times last year and many times this year about how my prowess on Monday Night Football, which is well documneted, is at such a high win rate. I am not bragging on this, just simply stating a fact. I am 5-0 this season, went 11-5 last season and my winning percentage dating back 5 years is 63% ATS or better in EACH of the past 5 NFL Seasons on MNF. Many think it is one of the hardest to handicap, I simply do not. I thought I would share a story that might provide some insight into my take and approach.
I can equate my NFL Playoff record to the same take I have on Monday Night Football. Going 12-5 ATS in the Playoffs in 2010-11 was 1 win better than I had in MNF last year. WHY? Well I have an answer folks. In 2005 I was one of the select few at a BoDog convention in Las Vegas to be a featured speaker at the convention and I was asked to present Internet based solutions for offering selections online. Long story short, I found myself in the green room, for lack of a better term, with the biggest featured speaker of the entire convention, the legend himself, Joe Montana.
After we exchanged hello's and got to talking about my Nebraska roots and he and Roger Craig and Tom Rathman's success's in the past at San Fran, and his Nebraska connection and friends, the floor was open to visit without looking like I was star struck (which actually I was). I asked him point blank, "since you are at sports gaming convention, I am asking you about Monday Night Football. What is the importance to a team in terms of winning that game? Do you know who is the favorite and who is the underdog, and do you know what the line was when you played in them?".
The answer he gave me confirmed my belief that the NFL Monday Night Football is one of the biggest games of the year for the teams who are playing. They know the line, they know 20+ million people people are watching worldwide, and they know the importance of winning that game. In essence he told me even if you are playing a weak sister for some reason, or percieved weak sister, you are going to get their A Game and on the other side of the coin, we are going to give them ours. He said there was very little difference between a Monday Night Football and a Playoff game in terms of focus and preparation. That shocked me but the haze lifted in terms of why so many games are tight and even amazing on Monday Night Football. Sure there is the occasional blowout, but for the most part many of us watch well into the night to see if our teams covers in what was expected to be a whitewash by one team.
As we are all aware of, who handicap and wager this sport, many teams week in and week out are totally unpredicatble. It is Jekyl and Hyde week to week. That is why the NFL is a very frustarting sport. Look like a world champ one week, and chump the next. Teams on Monday Night Football bring their A Game, there are no surprises. Just like in the NFL Playoffs. No one is taking the day or night off. No one is not going to perform to their utmost capability, and everyone CARES about winning the game no matter what it takes. That narrows the gap amongst teams and the stats are more reliable and there is lots less of a surprise at games end. Just like the playoffs. The stats do not lie, the man to man matchups are true to form, and the battle in the trenches is epic.
One other thing he told me, is this" Remember we all are pro players getting paid. The difference between a division leader and a team at the bottom of the division is very little. We all had 300 pound guys, linebackers that spit nails, and WRs that could run 4.3 Fourty Yard Dash times and QB's that can throw it on a rope 30 to 40 yards downfield. It is really a game of inches and preparation, nothing more and nothing less".
That in a nutshell tells one who handicaps that the intangibles are more limited in games of this nature. While special teams, penalties, and turnovers still play a major part in the outcome of almost 100% of the games played, they are more limited due to the importance and focus headed into a Monday Night Game, and I for one have always taken that into strong consideration both on MNF and the Playoffs and have success in doing so, especially taking dogs in the right scenario.
Why take the Skins at Dallas with Grossman at the helm on the road, why take the pathetic Colts at red hot Tampa with an unproven QB? Read between the lines gents, some serious food for thought.