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| Handicapping NFL Preseason| K eep Your Records Straight! |Breaking Even Should Make You a Winner! | Quantity Vs. Quality | Exotic Wagering | More Exotic Wagering | Words For The Wise | The Kelly Criterion Part I | The Kelly Criterion Part II | % Of Bankroll & Money Management | Flat Betting | Double Up Proceed With Caution! | Give Yourself The Best Of It! | You Don't Have To Be A Winner Every Week! | Breaking Even Should Make You A Winner! | Underdogs are a smart bet in the NFL | Overlooked Handicapping Tools | Handicapping Guidelines | Buying Points | Bye Week Strategy | Betting Home Underdogs | Playing Surface Advantage | Teaser Bet Myths | Yards per Point


HANDICAPPING THE NFL PRESEASON

Most professional handicappers know NFL preseason games can be quite rewarding. But bettors also know they must be selective. NFL exhibitions are, after all, just glorified practice games for the billion-dollar league. The key is betting on the teams that “want” a game more than the other side, or betting on the side that will use the far better personnel that day.

THE FORMULA

No, not a handicapping formula. But a coaches’ “preseason progression formula” has emerged in the 1990s-00s. It’s something like this. Use the starters for the first couple of series or the first quarter in Game One, then the backups for a quarter-plus, then the reserves. In Game Two, starters go 1-2 quarters, then the backups one-plus quarters, then the reserves. Game Three is really the dress rehearsal for the regular season, with starters usually going into the third quarter, often trying some of the new stuff they’ve added in training camp; backups might go the rest of the way. Most of the time in the Final Game, the starters play only briefly (unless they need the work), or not at all, with backups and reserves going most of the way, with special focus on players who are “on the bubble” to make the roster.

THE COACHES’ AGREEMENT

There is a general “Gentlemen’s Agreement” among coaches in the NFL preseason, kind of like this: “I will play my starters only against your starters, my backups vs. your backups, reserves vs. your reserves, and I’ll limit blitzes and kick blocks to obvious situations in the first two games.” Fortunately for handicappers, not all the coaches agree to this agreement all the time. Many coaches get “steamed” after a bad performance, or two straight losses. Some coaches (such as Bill Cowher or Tom Coughlin) like to blitz any time they feel like it. A few will sometimes re-insert starters late in a game in order to lock up a win!

SOME EDGES

Biggest Edge of All. The use of better personnel in that game, either due to injuries, competition, or quality depth, especially at QB. Most first-time NFL QBs will struggle late in games when working with reserve personnel, often producing more points for the opposition than for their own team.

Teams with a Game under Their Belt. Such teams did well last year when facing teams playing their first exhibition, going 7-2 vs. the spread. However, “belted teams” are only 13-14 vs. the spread the L6Ys; 24-23 the L8Ys.

Teams off to an 0-2 Start. Coaches get very antsy when their teams are 0-2, partly because the last game of the preseason is often a “throwaway,” with coaches focused primarily on the upcoming reg.-season opener. 0-2 teams (when not facing another 0-2 team) were 4-1 vs. the spread last year, 8-6 the L2Ys, 23-15 the L6Ys, and 60% the L17Ys.

Jets vs. Giants. They won’t say so, but this is not “just another exhibition” when these two meet, at least to the Jets, who have covered the last 10 meetings! (Wow!)

TOTALS

Do the “Unders” Rule in Early Exhibitions? Sometimes, such as in 2001, when there were only 5 “overs” vs. 13 “unders” in the combined prelim week and full Week One of the preseason schedule (and only 7 “overs” vs. 26 “unders” the first 2+ weeks, by the way). However, the “overs” still lead the “unders” 69-61 in the first 1+ weeks over the L7Ys.


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BREAKING EVEN SHOULD MAKE YOU A WINNER!

The few experienced and successful sportsmen we knew firmly believe that if you break even in 100 predictions you should wind up a winner. That's not because 50-50 is considered spectacular. Rather, considering the streaks that are inevitably involved in each season, a sensible wagerer will press a winning streak (without getting out of control) and back off from a losing trend.
We realize this strategy is much easier said than done, and if you're not a serious follower of a sport, you might as well forget it. The uneducated wagerer is at a tremendous disadvantage here. The reason? Successful streak following is a matter of feel and intuition. A thorough knowledge of yourself as a wagerer and of the teams is essential. When you are going good, step up the pace. It does take a certain amount of courage to press your normal wager or number of plays, but a winning streak must be exploited. If your luck begins to run bad, retreat and use caution. If you don't have a good flow going, there's no reason to push it.
When can you spot a streak coming on? It probably shouldn't be a set number of consecutive wins or losses that triggers you into action. Even if you're a sound handicapper, if your top selections are accompanied by lingering doubt, don't force it. On the other hand, if you've been doing fairly well and can almost visualize the final score in the next day's newspaper, the positive vibes have grabbed you and you should press forward. By using streaks to your advantage, you should be able to capitalize and make the most of your hot hand (and not get destroyed by a cold streak).

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KEEP YOUR RECORDS STRAIGHT!
Sports wagering is no different than business...you must keep accurate records to be successful. Most all of the notable sports bettors keep detailed, accurate records. These should include:
  1. . The $ amount of each wager;
  2. . Who was bet on (home favorite, home dog, etc.);
  3. . Type of wager (straight, parlay, etc.);
  4. . A chart of teams you went withþand against.


If you wish to go one step further, visual aids (graphs and charts) can prove even more enlightening.
You records should be quite revealing. They should uncover your most fertile wagering areas, as well as your most troublesome spots. After those trends are apparent, you'll be more inclined to focus your wagering activity in the profitable areas.
Also, it's a good idea to keep track of how your "last minute," "heat of battle," or "just watching" wagers have performed. Again, the key is to isolate your most profitable wagering areas.
Granted, all of this record keeping can be time consuming. If nothing else, however, you'll become a more intelligent wagerer. If you're already successful, it should make you even better!

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QUANTITY VS. QUALITY

When are 60% winners better than 70% winners? Not often.
When managing money, however, we want the most money to manage, and that will often mean wagering on numerous games.
There are two divergent schools of thought on the number of games to wager. Some believe in highly-selective wagering, playing as few as 3-5 games per week. Others believe in playing every game on the board, reasoning that if you know your stuff, why hold back?
In truth, the best range lies somewhere in between, though probably closer to the lower example. If one played every game, the exposure to luck (both good and bad) will probably have too much effect on the selections. Besides, the vigorish ("juice") will eat one alive. On the other hand, if someone rigidly holds to 3-5 games per week, and a card appears with 10-12 attractive plays, how is the list to be trimmed? Inevitably, after honing down a list, one will often discover that many winners were left off.
This isn't to say that you should play games you don't like. Rather, play the games you like based on the parameters you've set for yourself.
This is vitally important when considering quantity vs. quality. Your goal should be to attain the most positive units at season's end. Of course, picking 80% on all of the games would be sensational, but it's not realistic. A goal of 60-70% winners is difficult, but it's attainable (especially if using the Pro Football Handicapping Software Engine!), and it can be more profitable as well as more practical.
So, how can less be more? If you were selective and played five games per week for 16 weeks (80 games), and managed the near-impossible trick of 70% winners, it would calculate like this; 56 winners, minus the 24 losers, equals +32 units. With the "juice" calculated, that's roughly +30 units. On the other hand, if you played 15 games per week for 16 weeks (240 games), and connected on 60% of those wagers, you'd be +48 units (144 minus 96), and after the "juice" would be approximately +38 unitsþfar ahead of the previous scenario.
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EXOTIC WAGERING

Webster's defines exotic as "strikingly or excitingly different or unusual." And that's the reason most gamblers get involved with exotic wagersþexcitementþand the chance to make a "big score."
Exotic wagering includes betting cards, parlays, teasers, round robins, ad infinitum in the sports area. One might as well include bingo, keno, slot machines, and lotteries in this group, since the odds of winning are roughly the same. Simply put, most knowledgeable handicappers avoid those types of wagers. Even sports book administrators admit they aren't good wagers, but they'll gladly accept that money from the customer for the same reason.
The most commonly wagered exotic plays are teasers or parlays. A parlay is when one bets a multiple of teams (2 or more) at once and that all must win or the wager is lost. A teaser allows one to subtract between 5 and 7 points from the favorite or add the same number of points to the underdog. The odds payoff is lower as you subtract or add points. You must play at least two teams, usually three.
It's difficult enough to pick the pointspread winner of any game at a proficient level over the long run. So, knowing that the odds are not stacked in your favor at the outset with the exotic wagers, why on earth dig yourself into that ditch?
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MORE EXOTIC WAGERING
The chart below details the facts about parlays: the harder it is to pick winners, the less proportionate the payoff. Simply put, parlays don't offer payoffs at true odds.

     Winners        True Odds      Parlay Odds         Takeout

     2 for 2        3:1            2:1                 33%
     3 for 3        7:1            5:1                 28%
     4 for 4        15:1           10:1                33%
     6 for 6        63:1           19:1                69%
     8 for 8        255:1          149:1               42%


Parlay cards require that one plays the odds listed on the card. There's no advantage of being able to shop for numbers, as one might playing one game at a time. True, shrewd handicapping can reduce your odds to better than pure mathematical chance, but the parlay payoff cards are still too hard to consistently beat.
Do teasers look more appealing? Keep in mind that in the NFL, the pointspread normally affects between only 10-15% of the games played. So, if one can pick the winner of a game straight- up, the points won't usually matter one way or the other. The spread comes into play more often in college football, but the payoff odds are still a disadvantage.
Many books also mislead the bettors in their methods of stating the odds. For example, in a two-team parlay the odds might be stated at "3 for 1" on the card, leading some to believe that they're receiving 3:1. In truth, "3 for 1" translates into 2:1, because one only gets back 3 unitsþtwo of theirs, plus the unit wagered. That's a significant difference from 3:1, in which one gets back 4 total unitsþthree from the book, plus the one unit wagered.
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WORDS FOR THE WISE
There are three key components of sports wagering:


As in most endeavors, success in sports wagering requires dilligence, savvy, and discipline. At the beginning, be sure that your record-keeping techniques be utilized. Detailed, accurate records of your past activity can provide you with clues as to where your most profitable areas lie, and equally as important, where the most failure is encountered. Concentrating on more "fertile" areas should improve your chances for success.
It's also important to be flexible in the number of game syou play. Don't lock yourself into a set number of games per week. How often have you made up your mind to play only three games when eight or nine spots have looked attractive, only to end up losing the few you played? On the other hand, if you're set on playing ahigh number of games, you'll inevitable end up forcing plays you don't like and suffering the consequences. Don't be as concerned about picking a high % of winners, either; rather, llok for quality in your selections and strive to get ahead as many units as possible.

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THE KELLY CRITERION PART I

The Kelly Criterion is a complex math treatise first presented by a Bell Telephone engineer. Several years ago, it was adapted to sports wagering by a respected Las Vegas writer, computer analyst and handicapper, Huey Mahl. At that time, he was one of the chief advocates of using optimal betting methodsspecifically the Kelly Criterion in sports wagering.
This method presents a formula to determine what proportion of your bankroll to wager (risk) on each game in order to realize the maximum possible profit with the smallest probability of loss. This formula holds regardless of the order or sequence of wins and losses (with certain limitations). The Kelly Criterion is a method to help you compound a greater amount of interest on your bankroll than the "simple" interest gained by using a flat bet method.
In using this method to determine a proper wagering amount, you must first have the confidence that you can beat the pointspread at a reasonable winning percentage. If this reasonable winning percentage is 60% winners (tough, but achievable), the Kelly Criterion is calculated thusly:
60% (winners) minus 1.1 x 40, or 60 minus 44=16.
The number gives us the "Kelly Advantage," or optimum betting amount for maximizing return. You apply this betting % to your bankroll to determine the amount of your wager; if your bankroll is $3,000, your wager would be .16 x $3000, which equals $480 (this includes the vigorish, so your actual expected return on a winning wager would be .91 x $480, or $436.80).
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THE KELLY CRITERION PART II

Let's refresh your mind and again provide the formula for the "Kelly Advantage," a formula used to derive the optimal interest from your bankroll.
60% (projected winners) minus 1.1 x 40, or 60 minus 44=16.
Apply that betting pct. (16%) to your bankroll to determine the amount of your wager. If your bankroll is $3000, your wager would be .16 x $3000, or $480.
Keep in mind that to make the "Kelly Advantage" work, it requires that you project a reasonable % of winners. Please, be realistic projecting anything above 60% winners and calculating it into your "Kelly Advantage" is inviting disaster. With the Kelly Method, you're able to take advantage of winning streaks by betting more. When you're on a losing streak (as everybody will be on occasion), following the Kelly System automatically reduces the $ amount of your wager.
True, there are negative aspects of the Kelly Criterion. Since all of your wagers are based on a set % of your bankroll, you are, in effect, always losing your biggest wager and winning your smallest. Many handicappers are not enthralled with the time involved in calculating the "Kelly Advantage." If you're on a hot streak and play an inordinate number of games on one days, you're risking a large % of your bankroll at one time. A higher winning % is required to break even.
There are, however, benefits to be derived from this system. By hitting your estimated or higher winning %, your bankroll will grow geometrically as opposed to arithmetically in straight flat betting. This "compound interest" will manifest itself in a relatively short period of time. Also, it automatically sizes your bet when trying to catch up and reduces the wagers when ahead.

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% OF BANKROLL & MONEY MANAGEMENT

Respected sportsman and handicapper Lem Banker has said, "Never bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose." This is essential to remember when determining the size of your bankroll and the amounts of your bets. Whatever method or system of money management you have chosen for yourself (flat betting, Kelly Criterion, etc.), it's a must that you set aside a specific amount that you can comfortably afford to lose and stick by it. You should never wager any amount that would change your lifestyleþwin or lose.
After determining the amount you'll have to wager, your next step should be dividing it up into segments or parts that you believe will provide the best chance of staying in action when you hit that inevitable losing streak. You may want to put more emphasis on a part of the seasonþperhaps the first month or the last monthþin which you have traditionally had the most success. Don't risk too big a % of your bankroll at one timeþyou might go broke and be out of action altogether. The risk is too great, considering the mental and physical strains you would encounter when vainly trying to catch up.
Once you have determined the dollar amount that you'll use as a bankroll, a good rule of thumb is never to risk more than 25% of that amount on any one day or session. If you find that there is an abnormal number of games to be bet so that your regular wagers would result in going over your allotted % of bankroll, it may be a good idea to reduce the size of your bet on each game so as to not exceed the total amount allocated. The concept is simple: 1) Define your bankroll before the season starts.  2) bet a set percentage of your bankroll on each base play you make.  3) Bump your play up only slightly, 1-2%,  when you feel you have a game you are particularly confident about (A Plays).  A Grinder has no expectations of hitting remotely close to 100% of his picks every week. Neither will he make a recklessly large play (over 10% of bankroll) on any given game to “catch up” or “play a sure-thing”. A grinder is looking to hit a simple majority over the long haul--along the lines of 54 - 66% winners (though we do strive for perfection). He will place only between 3-5 percent of his bankroll on any given wager. Play a specific percentage of your overall bankroll consistently on each play week in and week out. For example: Whether your bankroll is $1,000 or $10,000 dollars you would place 4% of your overall football betting bankroll ($40 for a 1K bankroll, $400 for a 10K bankroll) on each and every play you make. Your "bankroll" is defined as the total amount you have socked away in a shoebox, that you can afford to lose and not change or adjust your living style. Most people don't have this amount "set aside";  Another definition of bankroll is the amount of money you could get your hands on in a pinch without borrowing from your mother.  If a bettor with a $10,000 dollar bankroll made 200 plays during the season, and hit 58% winners, he would finish the season by nearly doubling his stake, being ahead +9,440 units. A 94% return in about 5 months, that’s damn good. The reality is that we strive for perfection, but settle for a realistic winning percentage, somewhere between 54 - 60%.  

Sound financial discipline will keep you in the game if and when  you hit those inevitable rough times. No matter how much a play appeals to us we rarely double up on a play, in fact we rarely place more than 5% of a bankroll on a single play.  There is no such thing as a "lock" (many a square has gotten in trouble because of playing a lock).  It is also folly to make a bet solely to have "action" on a game.  If you feel compelled to do this (an example is if you're going to watch the game on TV) limit your action to 1% of your bankroll. Know the difference between "entertainment action", and a calculated and researched investment wager.

Your base wager should be an amount you are "comfortable losing". Play within your comfort zone. If you've been a dollar player for years and are thinking about stepping up, a large step up in action could impact your judgment. The glitz, the action, the prospect of losing, the allure of hitting a big return, could make for unstable decision making. Remember that even the sharpies lose 40-46% of the time!  I've found that having a predefined bankroll is the best way to maintain emotional and mental clarity over the course of the roller coaster ride of the betting season. Money management prowess is fundamental to being a winning player - just as the ability to stop the run is fundamental to a winning football program.

Parlay tickets: The math says most of them are a losing proposition. The professionals limit their income action to straight up wagers (or two team parlay tickets). Before you play tickets, learn about them. Understand the math, the payouts ratios, the subtle differences between good tickets, and sucker tickets. Addendum on two-team parlay tickets: The math says that with a typical winning percentage (54-60%) playing two-teamers is  a winning strategy over the long haul. They can be especially profitable when playing the Money Line on a two-team ticket. This is also a solid strategy to reduce your exposure to risk; simply put approximately 1.5 to 2% of your bankroll on each ticket. Two-teamers are parlay tickets that statistically a bettor can consistently profit playing over the long haul.


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FLAT BETTING

The term "flat betting" describes a very simple money management systemþyour amount wagered on each game is the same, depending on the % of bankroll you're wagering at a particular time.
There are distinct advantages to this system. Flat betting eliminates the need to assess a rating system on each wager. In truth, many who rate games by assigning them numerical values or probabilities are doing so arbitrarily and without real logical reason. Some merely assign differing values to the games based on past history or feelings they have. The degree of emphasis they put on a particular event can hardly be measured other than by their arbitrary assignment of a chance of winning. In reality, what are the real chances of that single event winning? Is a "lock" game 100% sure of winning? If it were, we'd never need to make another play in our entire lives. Of course, no game can be a "lock," and the basis of flat betting insures the player that he won't be conned into going broke on any of these picks.
Another problem that flat betting eliminates is that of the psychological aftereffects that often come when preferring one game over another. For example, if you bet three games and win two, you're at 67% and plus one game if flat betting. On the other hand, if you bet the same three games but double the wager on of the contests, you could still pick 67% but end us a loser if the double-up game ends as a loser. Such a situation can be devastating to your psyche, as a good job of handicapping is negated by poor money management.
Flat betting makes it easier to stick to specific rules you may have set up for yourself, such as avoiding road favorites or bucking certain systems you believe are strong. Also, you won't find a play that looks good enough to play more than a single unitþall of your wagers will be the same. In the long run, you'll probably end up betting the same amount of games, but letting your winning % grind out a nice profit.
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DOUBLING UP PROCEED WITH CAUTION!

There are some in the wagering community who advocate the practice of "doubling up" on bets to catch up when behind, reasoning that one isn't likely to lose two games in a row. Some even believe in continuing to double up until you've recouped your losses. Some believe this approach similar to a coach that takes to the passing game when behind allows one to "catch up" the quickest.
There are, however, numerous problems with this style of betting. First of all, when you're losing and begin to push yourself for more plays to "double up" and catch up, your psychological state isn't conducive to intelligent handicapping. Forcing bets just to catch up can be an easy way to play yourself out of a season. Second, when doubling up it takes only three consecutive losses to fall seven units behind. To then catch up, you'd have to risk 7 units 8 to go up one unit and that's not worth the risk. Not doubling up would have created a more manageable deficit. Cold streaks can spell disaster when doubling up. It's much healthier for you and your bankroll to wager the same amount on each game ("flat betting") and let your winning % grind out a profit. Unfortunately, greed dooms most gamblers and their bankrolls somewhere along the line..
There are also those who advocate doubling up when ahead in order to take advantage of hot streaks. Again, this could be a quick way to turn a celebration into a wake you're putting more emphasis on a game or set of games than you normally might, for no other reason than avarice. Sure, it's a good idea to step up your wagers when ahead, since you're evidently handicapping the games well or riding a hot streak. But doubling up could lead to ruin just as fast when winning as losing, since you only need to lose half as many games to wipe out your earnings. And this again will lead to problems with your psyche and ability to handicap games with a clear mind.
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GIVE YOURSELF THE BEST OF IT!

It is fundamental in this business never to get the worst of the line. The shrewd gambler always shops for the best available price. Value! The difference between a half-point here and a point there may be an important one. Games are handicapped so accurately that the player who grabs every possible pointspread advantage can end up winning 10 to 20 games more a season than the player who accepts the worst of the numbers. Winning the close ones will more than likely determine the bottom line of your profit-and-loss statement.
Winning players must shop carefully to avoid getting the worst of any price or line on a game. If you're serious about this, you owe it to yourself to get the best of the line. While the pointspread may make the difference in no more than 15% of the NFL games, shopping for value in the numbers makes common sense. Each football weekend, several college and NFL pointspread decisions may be decided by 1-point or less from the consensus Las Vegas line. That's why a shrewd pointspread shopper has a distinct advantage, especially with so many close games being played.
Let's also not forget that the smart wagerer manages his (or her) money in a sensible manner, so as to capitalize on a hot hand. Self-discipline is the secret. Without it you can pick 65% winners and end up in the hole. With it you can bat /500 and never get hurt!
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YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A WINNER EVERY WEEK!

We have always thought this quote, made years ago by the owner of a Las Vegas hotel, pretty much summed up the plight of most wagerers: "The typical gambler will permit himself to lose far more than he will permit himself to win. This is the biggest edge the house owns." If you analyze the traits of most players, you'll probably find that most don't make a real attempt at winning big until they get behind! As many wagerers find out, this is usually a quick route to a busted bankroll, since you're forcing many more picks (and for larger amounts) than you normally might.
Self-discipline (or lack thereof) and unrealistic expectations can also contribute to this problem. What many don't realize is that there is no rule stating that you must be a winner every week. A few losing weeks shouldn't destroy a wagerer. One should have enough sense to realize that there are ebbs and flows in this exercise and that everybody who wagers will lose nearly as many as he winsþand that's only if he's a good wagerer! Don't place yourself in a position where lady luck can knock you out of business. To do this, keep cool and don't wager more than a designated bankroll on any given day. By staying in action continuously you up your chances for encountering success, but when the tide is against you stay calm so you'll be able to play another day when the fats turn in your favor. Never try to recoup all of your losses in one day!

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A GOOD "BYE"?

The conventional thinking on "bye teams" goes something like this. The in-season week off allows time for players to heal their bumps & bruises, and for coaches to get a little sleep, rejuvenate their creative "juices," and develop a few surprises for upcoming opponents. With healthier players with rested legs, armed with some new schemes, teams coming off their bye week figure to have some nice edges when facing a team that had to play the previous week.

Not so fast, mein freund.

Over the past three seasons (1999-'02), "bye teams" facing "non-bye teams" are only 30-46-1 vs. the spread (39.5%). And the worst offenders are the home favorites (8-24 vs. the number!). Home dogs were 6-6; road favorites and picks 7-6; and road dogs 9-10-1.

So far in the 2002 season, "bye teams" vs. "non-byes" are 5-3 vs. the spread (home favorites 3-12; home dogs 1-1).

My thinking on the previous non-success of the bye home favorites goes something like this. Most coaches give their players several days off during their bye week, with the players taking full advantage, taking mini-vacations, going hunting or fishing, visiting family/friends who they haven't seen since the start of training camp, and/or often showing up on the sidelines of their college teams to lend support and encouragement.

In taking this time off from the regular grind of the long season, the players not only rest their bodies, but they also rest their minds. It's no surprise they lose a bit of their hard-earned "edge," and also no surprise they have trouble regaining their previous rhythm once the "bullets start flying" again on their next game day. Meanwhile, their non-bye opponent is usually in its regular practice routine, with many teams eager to rebound from a loss the previous week.

The numbers of the past three years show that a word to the wise should be sufficient. Generally speaking, pointspread-wise it's better for an NFL team to have its regular rhythm than the extra rest.


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UNDERDOGS ARE A GOOD BET IN THE NFL

1. NFL Parity

The NFL has made great strides to achieve rough equality among teams. It has succeeded. Just look at these SuperBowl teams from the past several years: St. Louis in 2000, Baltimore in 2001, New England in 2002, Tampa Bay in 2003, and Carolina last year. None of these teams were supposed to make it that far but they all did and many won, despite losing records the year before. Unlike the college game, any given team can win on Sunday in the NFL. Why not get some points to boot?

 

2. A Win is a Win

Again, unlike in College, there is no need to blow-out a team. Favorites that get up early don't typically run up the score in the NFL. It doesn't serve a purpose and in most cases, coaches would rather not embarrass their opponent and/or risk injury to their stars. In the NFL, big leads often dwindle, with underdogs covering late in the game.

 

3. The Rodney Dangerfield Effect

Underdogs don't get any respect! They don't get it from the public, sometimes leading to higher than deserved spreads. More importantly, they don't get it from their opposition. Good teams can sometimes take bad teams lightly (especially if players and coaches minds are on other things, like next week's tougher opponent). Research and an understanding of historical trends can reveal great situations in which underdogs are poised for an upset.

 

4. The Public Can't Help Itself

The average bettor loves the popular teams (favorites), oftentimes pushing lines unreasonably high. We saw it during the 90's with Dallas and San Francisco . In fact, almost every week, with the right research, you can spot teams that should be favorites but are getting points against a popular team that has been installed as a favorite due to the public "bandwagon effect." For example, last year Kansas City visited Cincinnati in week 10. The Chiefs had won nine straight and seemed invincible. In hindsight, Cincinnati was the easy underdog pick. Kansas City 's defense was ranked 25 th in the league at the time. Cincinnati was on a roll having won 3 of their last four games and Rudi Johnson was coming into his own. Cincinnati had the emotional edge and nothing to lose by taking a shot at an undefeated team they knew they could beat. However, the public couldn't get over Kansas City 's success and spot this situation.

 

5. Got Courage?

Most bettors don't have the courage to go with certain underdogs. They see a (perceived) good team versus a (perceived) bad team and assume it won't be a contest. They have formed an opinion about how horrible some teams are based on a recent blowout or past personal gambling loss. Again, with the right combination of statistical and situational research, some undervalued dogs can be spotted each week. There are also certain situations in which bad teams have historically and reliably outperformed their average. Match that with a historically-proven situation in which favorites under-perform and you have yourself a reliable upset scenario.

 

6. The Point-spread Matters Less than You Think

Historically, the point-spread matters in the NFL only about 16% of the time. In other words, 84% of the time, the team that covers the spread also wins. With this knowledge, if you have underdogs that you really like (based on the right research, not a hunch), you can take them to win straight-up (money line), collecting anywhere from 1.2 to 4 times your original bet. Usually a three-point dog will pay around 140 for 100 for a straight-up win versus 100 for 110 wagered on a regular spread-based pick. Seven point underdogs pay around 250 for 100 for a straight-up win.

 

What It All Means

Obviously just playing all underdogs is not the answer (that would yield you approximately 50% wins and a negative account balance). However, with the right research, you can spot some very high-value underdog winners each week.

Overlooked Handicapping Tools

There's a lot of information to process when trying to form an opinion on which team to bet on. In doing so, many important handicapping tools could go overlooked. Some of these can be as follows:

Weather

You wake up on Sunday morning. Its sunny and 60 degrees outside. Your overjoyed that Sunday football is here, you sit down, fire up the computer, place your bets, grab your beverage and chips and move over to the bigscreen to turn the game on. Your all excited to see lots of points scored as you've just gotten down on the over 37.5 in the Vikings/Bears game at Soldier field and then horror strikes. Its snowing at Soldier Field! Oh no! How can this be? You forgot to check the weather report! Just because you live in California or Florida doesn't mean Chicago's nasty weather is going to be "over" friendly.

Don't let this happen to you. Sitting through 3 hours of run and a cloud of dust (or snowflakes in this case) is depressing as hell and could be prevented had you gone to weather.com to check the cities forecast. It never fails either, the time your on an over and forget to check the weather the game will be scoreless at the half with a final score of 7-3. We've been there!

Line Movement

Another "must do" each week is to check out what the opening line is compared to the current line. Has the side or total changed during the week? If so, figure out why. There's surely a reason. It's either taken on a ton of public money, sharp action or there's a key injury that you need to find out about. (Hint: If the starting center is out on a team, this is huge as the team's timing will be off with a backup hiking the ball!)

Use www.wagertracker.com and view the public consensus. See what percentage of the picks are being made on each side to help you determine if it's public or wise guy action. If a game has 85% on one side and the line is going up, that's public action. If the game has a high percentage on one side and the line is moving the other way, that's sharp action and probably something you don't want to go against unless your absolutely sure that your play is rock solid. Injuries can be determined by checking out any NFL injury report found on numerous sites on the web. Go to google and type in NFL Injury Report and you'll find more options than you can shake a stick at.


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Handicapping Guidelines


1. Understand Your Opponent - You're the underdog. You're the one who's laying 11 to 10 to your friendly bookmaker. This initially gives you a negative expectancy of 5%. It's a substantial challenge. The vigorish, or juice, can indeed be overcome, but it is not to be taken lightly.

2. Knowledge - Study and understand the game, don't just watch it. This will provide a necessary basis for insights into determining trends and developments in a team's performance level.

3. Preparation - Long-term success can be attributed to hard work and working smart. There is no way you can neglect the preseason preparation and season long update. The lure of "easy money" should be recognized as a mirage. If you think it's easy, you really don't know enough about it. Read all the pertinent information about football; know each team's personnel, strengths and weaknesses. This involves reading newspapers, periodicals and online information on a regular basis.

4. Be Objective - When you're watching a game, look at what's happening-not what you want to see. Being objective will add to your overall knowledge.

5. Money Management - A very critical part of sports betting is money management. Any successful money management method requires that you bet more when you're hot and less when you're not. Do not double up when you are losing. In essence, do not send good money after bad money. Be patient because no one wins every day or week. Accept the fact that good or bad days are part of the game and that winning and losing streaks happen in cycles. If you are utilizing good handicapping methods and are on the right side, you will undoubtedly come out ahead at the end of the season.

Be Confident - Have confidence in your selections. If you have an uneasy feeling or negative thoughts after making your selections than I suggest you back off. You should be confident and relaxed.

6. Utilize Discipline - This is probably one of the hardest guidelines for the average gambler to accomplish. You must be selective man. It's impossible to win if you bet every game on the board or a game just because it is televised. There always seems to be a nucleus of teams with high rankings and TV exposure. Thus the trap is set to catch the unsuspecting football bettor betting on the big name teams, which are overrated because of their reputation. The bookmakers realize these and set exorbitant prices on those big names. It may be more profitable to look for the underdogs anxious to prove that they can be competitive with anyone and this appearance is their "12th man on the field".

7. Don't Bet in the Dark - Check for injuries, weather conditions and the effect the substitute may have on the team. The public puts too much emphasis in injuries in pro sports and bookmakers are aware of that when they make the line.

8. Evaluate Home vs. Away Performance - Remember that a team may have an entirely different personality on the road than at home. You must be able to recognize the difference in home vs. away performance. Over a given period of time a team will form a pattern. Trends in college football seem to keep right on rolling along even though the characters change, so keep an eye on these throughout the year.

9. Shop Around - Use as many bookmakers/sportsbooks as you can. Their lines will vary some and you might as well take advantage of a point or two differences in your favor. You might even catch a middle, a situation in which you're risking $1 to make $20 or you may side the play and get $10 for your risk of $1. It's amazing how many games fall near the number, so this definitely warrants a shot. With the introduction of offshore books, the opportunities of middle situations increased and I love it. An offshore book is an excellent place to shop and with the convenience of home. Hey, dynamic line movements from offshore books often open middle opportunities. This will make a substantial difference in your bottom line. Be careful, I have heard many horror stories. You have the same concerns with a Sportsbook as you do with a Sports Service.

10. After some investigative analysis, get yourself ready and secure with a few offshore sportsbooks. I tell my customers that the sports book explosion is the best thing that could have happened for the smart bettor. I personally use offshore books in addition to other outlets and go where the price is right. Hey, middling can be a big boost to your season ending bankroll.

 


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BUYING POINTS

You’ve probably seen an option to buy a half-point or more in exchange for slightly altered odds on a point-spread bet. For instance, if you were betting on a game where the spread was -5 at -110 odds, you might have the option of taking -4.5 at -120, or -4 at -130. This allows you to tweak lines with only a seemingly small price to pay. But is this a good deal?

It’s important to remember that if we want to win at sports betting, we have to be very conscious about the odds we’re giving and receiving at all times. What feels like a small change can actually be quite significant, especially when we’re talking about bets with close to even odds (like spread bets). For instance, we only need to win a -110 bet 52.4% of the time to break even. But change that to -130, and we now need to win 56.5% to stay out of the red.

That might not seem like a big change, and it’s not – if the point we bought is enough to get us those few extra wins we need. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. Very few games will swing from wins to losses on the change of a point (even fewer on a half-point), which means that buying a point will usually cost us money in the long run.

However, there are exceptions. The biggest one comes when we can buy a half-point to move a line off of -7.5, -7, -3.5, -3, +2.5, +3, +6.5 and +7. Why are these numbers so significant? The most common winning margins in NFL football games are three and seven, so turning those numbers into a push or a win can mean a big edge for us. The numbers bear out that these are the most profitable spots at which to take a half-point. The numbers around three are the best of all; moving a half-point here is usually worth much more than we have to pay for it! These half-points tend to become even more valuable in games we expect to be low scoring, since points will be at a premium and the margins of victory will tend to be smaller. And as with many football bets, it’s important to keep in mind that buying points works better in the pros than in the more unpredictable college game.

Unfortunately, the sportsbooks know that these are the key points too, and they’re not usually willing to give them up so easily. Some books won’t let you take half-points at certain spots, while others purposely set lines to make it unprofitable to do so. Other bookmakers might let you take that half-point, but charge you enough to make it unprofitable. If you do find a book willing to give you cheap half-points no matter what the line is, stick with them – you’ll find plenty of spots where buying points becomes profitable.

For the most part, buying points in modern sports betting isn’t a profitable enterprise. In most cases, the points you get aren’t worth the odds you have to give up to get them. And in the rare cases where it is worthwhile, the sportsbooks usually know better than to let us have them cheaply. But if you do find that rare book that will give you a key half-point for the right price on a game you like, don’t hesitate to take it.


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BYE WEEK BETTING STRATEGY

One thing that makes pro football different than most major sports is how uniform the schedule is for each team. Everyone plays once a week, and the vast majority of games are on Sundays, meaning that figuring out which teams are well-rested or coming off a difficult road trip isn’t really necessary. Of course, there’s one major exception to this rule. This comes from the fact that each team receives a single bye week on their schedule. This gives each team a single week off during the regular season. For gamblers, it’s perhaps more important to realize that this gives each team one game each season in which they’ve had two weeks to prepare and rest injured players.

It might seem like a great idea, then, to bet on teams that are coming off a bye week. However, such a simple gambling strategy just won’t work, especially if you’re betting against the spread. There are a couple obvious problems with such a strategy. First, the bookmakers are going to factor the advantage that the bye team has into their lines; this isn’t something subtle you’ve found that your online sportsbook won’t have thought of. Secondly, you shouldn’t assume that the bye week will affect all teams equally; some teams might use that week to get a critical injured player back in the lineup, while others might have that bye come at a bad time, interrupting a winning streak and cooling off a previously red hot team.

The numbers bear this out as well. Of course, each season changes the numbers as new results come in, but the percentage of teams coming off of a bye week who cover the spread definitely trends right around 50%. The bookmakers definitely have a handle on what effect – if any – the bye week should have on the spread. However, there are other bye week-related strategies that you can consider using. One that has shown some success has been to bet on a winless team coming off a bye week. These teams – assuming they’re coming into the game as an underdog – have shown an overwhelming advantage against the spread. While this situation isn’t common (very few teams are winless after the bye weeks begin), it makes sense. These teams are not only very hungry for a win, they’ve also had plenty of time to make extensive adjustments to their offense and defense that are likely to prepare them well for their next game, and might very well catch their opponents by surprise.

Another similar system that has done well is to bet undefeated favorites coming off of a bye week. This system, which has produced good results over the years, may seem to be the polar opposite of the first system. However, the logic is actually quite similar. A great team coming off a bye week will be reenergized, ready to continue proving that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Any nagging injuries that were building up – but clearly, weren’t enough to stop them from winning games – are likely healed, making them better than ever. Plus, with a week out of the spotlight thanks to the bye, it’s quite possible that they’re not favored by as much as they should be.

As always, be cautious – you shouldn’t follow any system without putting in the work to make sure the bets you’re making are good ones. However, these betting strategies together with iBetFootball PRO can help you find games you otherwise may not have considered, adding more good plays to your schedule during the season.
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BETTING HOME UNDERDOGS

Many people who bet on sports insist that betting on home underdogs is a winning play. The logic behind such a position is pretty sound: home teams tend to be more likely to play over their heads in front of a big home crowd, making upsets (or close calls) more common for teams that should normally have little chance against their opponents. If a team is getting points at home, these close games (not to mention the upsets they sometimes pull off) are wins for you. Of course, there’s an obvious counterargument to this sports betting strategy. If everyone knows this, don’t the sports books know it too? They must adjust their lines to counteract this effect, making the strategy futile.

But studies seem to show that even the bookmakers don’t adjust football odds quite enough to make up for home field advantage, at least when it comes to home dogs. A study of NFL games from 1983-2007 found that underdogs did significantly better against the spread than favorites – and home underdogs even more so. In fact, home underdogs won against the spread 52.48% of the time over that time period, enough to turn a profit if you had bet every single NFL game during that period! Against a -105 line, home dogs would have shown a 2.38% profit, and against a -110 line, players would have squeaked out a 0.18% edge.

Along with iBetFootball PRO you should use this information to your advantage by realizing that even highly sophisticated sports books may have some small biases in their lines. In this example, we know that sports books would never give bettors a long run edge, even one this small, on purpose. It appears that what’s actually going on is that the public tends to bet against home underdogs enough that it makes it worthwhile for the bookmakers to move lines slightly too much in their favor. Even though home dogs might be getting slightly too many points on average, the bookies come out ahead.

What’s the best way to take advantage of this? By doing nothing out of the ordinary at all! The public and the sports books have already done the work for you by setting inefficient lines. If you properly handicap the games using iBetFootball PRO and other tools and methods you use you should find yourself betting a lot of home dogs who have significant value and avoiding those that aren’t worth your time. You don’t need to pick every single home underdog to take advantage of this effect, and in fact, that would be a mistake. Yes, you might come out slightly ahead if you did that, but if you use a more complete sports betting strategy, you’ll do even better. The best sports gamblers don’t use rules of thumb to win: they take advantage of the root causes behind those rules to gain an even bigger edge.
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PLAYING SURFACE ADVANTAGE

There can be a slight betting edge gained when comparing the home playing surfaces of each team involved in a particular game. First, review the schedule for the week and identify the underdogs playing at home. For the underdog team playing at home, take note of the team they are playing against. Then compare the stadium surface of the team playing at home against the stadium surface that the visiting team plays on.

If the underdog home team plays on a different type of surface than the visiting team's home stadium, then bet for the home underdog team using the line spread to win. Always bet using the point spread, not the money line.

For example, if the Cleveland Browns are playing at home versus the New England Patriots and the Browns are the underdogs, then you will place a bet on the Cleveland Browns in this game as the Browns stadium has a grass surface, while the Patriots home stadium has a turf surface. The Patriots are more accustomed to the turf surface that they play on at home, therefore their chances of winning lessens when they are playing on a stadium that has a grass surface.

Pro Teams and Home Surface Conditions
Arizona Cardinals - Grass
Atlanta Falcons - Turf
Baltimore Ravens - Turf
Buffalo Bills - Turf
Carolina Panthers - Grass
Chicago Bears - Grass
Cincinnati Bengals - Turf
Cleveland Browns - Grass
Dallas Cowboys - Turf
Denver Broncos - Grass
Detroit Lions - Turf
Green Bay Packers - Grass
Houston Texans - Grass
Indianapolis Colts - Turf
Jacksonville Jaguars - Grass
Kansas City Chiefs - Grass
Miami Dolphins - Grass
Minnesota Vikings - Turf
New England Patriots - Turf
New Orleans Saints - Turf
NY Giants - Turf
NY Jets - Turf
Oakland Raiders - Grass
Philadelphia Eagles - Grass
Pittsburgh Steelers - Grass
St. Louis Rams - Turf
San Diego Chargers - Grass
San Francisco 49ers - Grass
Seattle Seahawks - Turf
Tampa Bay Bucs - Grass
Tennessee Titans - Grass
Washington Redskins -Grass

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TEASER BET MYTHS

A teaser bet is commonly a two team parlay where your chosen team gets six extra points added in your favor to its spread. So if Dallas was +2 and Pittsburgh was -7.5, your teaser wager would be a parlay on Dallas +8 and Pittsburgh -1.5. If you are betting at -110 (betting $110 to win $100), you need to win at least 52.4% of your teasers to break even. This is the same win percentage needed for to break even on normal sides bets when you lay -110 at a traditional sports book.

Since both of your selections need to win so that you can cash your ticket, each individual teaser team needs to cover 72.5% for you to break even (72.5% X 72.5% = 52.6%). So in exchange for those six extra points in your favor, when you buy a teaser you are raising your breakeven point from 52.4% to 72.5% on that one team. If you don't win that individual leg at least 20% more with those six points, don't bother teasing - you are buying something you don't need. A common thread seen on many gaming forums concerns the subject of teasers. One of the generally held misconceptions is that they are sucker bets to be avoided at all costs. Anyone actively involved in bookmaking over any significant period of time will have seen players make thousands of dollars in teaser plays when reaaly it is just luck and they don't know what they’re buying.

A common mistake with teasers is teasing a total. There is no total in the Pro or College games that when teased six points, raises your win rate 20%. In general, teasing any total is a bad play. Fortunately one of the best ways to play a teaser is to play a spread that when teased, moves through the key numbers of 3 and 7. Teasing Dallas from +2 to +8 or Pittsburgh from -7.5 to -1.5 are two examples.


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YARDS PER POINT

Yards per Point is an often overlooked but very useful statistical metric which is part of the iBetFootball PRO formula. Yards per point is a direct correlation to the number of yards gained from the line of scrimmage compared to the number of points scored. What is intriguing about this stat is what elements are included, the quiet aspects of football if you will. YPP is a culmination of a variety of important factors that go into winning football games, notably the field position generated by a team's defense and special teams, the ability to both convert and keep opponents from converting third downs, and simply enough, making the most of every scoring opportunity.

For example if a team racks upo 400 yards of offense and scores 28 points they would have a value of 14.2 YPP. If another team had 300 yards total offense and tallied 17 points they would have a less productive figure of 17.6 YPP. Like in golf, the lower number is better. Defensive YPP figures are calculated in the same manner, except that yards allowed and points allowed are used. New England allowed 288.3 yards and 17.1 points per game, so their defensive YPP would be 16.86. Kansas City allowed 319.4 yards per game and surrendered 20.9 points per game and would have a defensive YPP rating of 15.28.

The strengths of Yards-Per-Point are as follows:

  • Clear and indisputable connection to the reality of what happens on the field.
  • Clear delineations between quality and a lack of quality.
  • An ability to reflect on offense and defense at the same time.
  • Not much vulnerability to relatively random points that are scored by special teams or the defense.
  • An inherent consistency over time that lines up with the reality as we know it. Sometimes scores can be very misleading. A team may score a bunch of points because of lucky breaks, however it’s hard to “luck” your way into good or bad YPP numbers.
  • Ease of understanding and use.

Without a doubt, Yards per point is a most relevant handicapping stat. Because this stat doesn't separate the offensive, defensive and special teams points, all facets of the game are reflected in this number. If the team has a poor kicking game, turnover ratio, rushing attack, passing attack or other inadequacy, it will be factored in this number.

The top 10 teams in yards per point differential finished with a combined record of 112-48 for a winning percentage of 70%.
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The Football Forecaster Software analyzes the most important statistical factors that affect a game's outcome and zeroes in on the games that show the greatest differential between the point spread and your predicted outcome. These are the games to bet on!

Please consider purchasing Football Forecaster for the upcoming season. I know you will find it money well spent.

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