By Tony George
The Fall Season is fast approaching, and so is the anticipation of thousands of sports bettors who cannot wait to start unloading bankrolls on the King of all wagering sports, Football. A word of caution from a professional handicapper of 13 years, and defending #1 NFL Capper and overall #1 in the NFL / NCAA combined at National Sports Monitor in 2003, investor beware!
I have some tips and trends to help guide you through the land mines involved in the NFL Pre-season, as I picked ONLY 6 Games in 2003 and went 4-2 overall. I strongly urge all who read this to take note of the following point, it is better to build your bankroll for the upcoming football season with Baseball, versus the NFL Pre-season. When whittling down rosters in the NFL, many teams and coaches do not care about wins and losses, and the games are highly suspect to have numerous intangible items attached to them that are impossible to predict, let alone handicap. Many handicappers will tell you it is the best time of the year to bet football, they are selling you plays, not helping you INVEST your money wisely against the Las Vegas line. I do see some opportunity in the NFL Pre-season, but see 99% of the possibilities when the regular season begins, and also with many marquee pre-season NCAA games such as the Pigskin Classic and others having less spread winning opportunities than the regular season. Remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint and we have plenty of time to crush the books in both the NFL and NCAA in the regular season, so with that said here are a few takes and trends that I look for.
Teams that open up the NFL Pre-season with 2 straight losses are a 60% ATS bet to win and cover in their 3rd game, and this number is posted from the last 18 years of the NFL Pre-season. Sooner or later, a coach wants a win under his teams belt, especially with weaker teams who need to instill at some point a winning attitude and a moral boost for their team. The third game of the season in many coaches mind is a formal walk through for regular season action, and most teams will play their starters through 3 quarters in order to get in game mode for the upcoming season, so you have a more accurate model to handicap from as the pre-season winds down. The other issue is effort and less mistakes, since most players still on the roster are giving their best effort in order to make a NFL team or are fighting for a starting position.
Another point to look at is the quarterback position, especially with teams like Dallas and Miami this year, who both have a QB fight on their hands to name a starter, same thing with the Giants. You will see a good QB working with 2nd and 3rd stringers late in the game trying to make big plays and taking chances with lesser talent on the field, which means turnovers and points for the other team. Study closely the line in these types of games, you will finds some opportunity in the right scenario.
I stay away for the most part in the final games of the NFL Pre-season, since rarely do the starters play more than 1, possibly 2 series in those games to avoid injuries that could put them on the sidelines. It is a dress rehearsal for the backup’s in most cases, and you will find little value in betting these games in my opinion. Knowing the QB rotations and starting player rotations is CRUCIAL to success in the NFL Pre-Season so do your homework, or make sure your Sports Service does theirs!
These few fine points should help you eliminate playing “drunken sailor” with your football bankroll. I like to single out one game that I fell the stars line up with, and not spread a ton of money around in the NFL Pre-season. It would be advisable to play only 1/2 unit plays in the pre-season. There is plenty of tickets to cash in the regular season, be patient.