Most professional handicappers believe NFL preseason games can be quite profitable. But you must be selective. NFL exhibitions are, after all, just games for television and advertising money. The key is betting on the side that will use the better players for that game.
THE PROGRESSION PRESEASON PLAN
Most NFL teams use the starters for the first couple of series or the first quarter in preseason game one, then the backups for a quarter-plus, then the reserves. In game two, starters go one or two quarters, then the backups play one-plus quarters, then the reserves and so on. Game three is really the dress rehearsal for the regular season, with the starters usually going into the third quarter. Backups go the rest of the way. In the final game, the starters play only briefly, if at all, with the backups and reserves going the rest of the way for those players on the bubble.
THE COACHES UNWRITTEN AGREEMENT
There is a gentleman’s agreement among the coaches in the NFL preseason and it goes like this: “I will play my starters only against your starters, my backups against your backups, my reserves against your reserves and so on.” Plus, I will limit blitzes to obvious situations in the first two games. The good news is that not all the coaches agree to this all the time. Many coaches get pissed after a bad performance or two straight losses. Some coaches like Jack Del Rio and like to blitz any time they feel like it. And a few like to put in starters late to ensure a win.
ANGLES TO LOOK FOR
The use of better personnel is the biggest difference: either due to injury, competition, or quality depth, especially at quarterback. Most first time quarterbacks will struggle late in games giving more points to the opponent then themselves. Teams with one game under their belt fare better than ones playing for the first time. Teams starting off at 0-2 want the next one bad, because the last game is a throwaway before the season starts.
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Baseball differs from basketball and football in that it is a natural part of the regular season to play the same team multiple times in a row. Two teams will play each other on back to backs in the NBA on rare occasions but they rarely schedule them in the same city. It is usually a home game then a road game or vice versa. In football, it never happens.
Handicappers like us created a term called “revenge” because we identified the importance of analyzing how teams fared against their opponents earlier in the season. “Revenge” does not exactly work in baseball because the sport is so dependant on momentum. Teams off a win are more likely to win their following game plain and simple.
We wanted a leg up on the bookies and ask ourselves a question that certainly is not being factored into the spreads. “What is the correlation between winning a game and the likelihood that team wins its next game as it pertains to the series.” Anything we find can almost certainly be used in our betting arsenal because the Vegas bookies have no incentive to adjust spreads accordingly based on the series game number, right?
We needed to get some background information before we started. Teams (overall) off a win are victorious in their following game 8707-8262 (51.3%) of the time. Keep in mind that we are going to disregard the odds of the game because the sample sizes are large enough such that we deem it irrelevant.
If their following game is:
Game 1 of another series: 2821-2597 (52.1%)
First, we found that in the fourth game of a series, this team was actually more likely to lose. If that does not make sense to you, let me explain. If two teams are playing in the fourth game of a series then chances are they are division rivals and play with a high level of intensity. And if a team lost game 3, it is likely to be down 3-0 or 2-1 in the series and will look to get the final game in its pocket.
Second, we found that teams playing in the first game of a series were more likely to win. We have been harping about this a lot in our betting systems when we are betting in the first game of a series. Something even more intriguing is the fact that the 52.1% contains a large number of intersections. Meaning, two teams can each come into game 1 of a series off a win. For my purposes, the angle would be considered 1-1 because it is evaluating each of their performances separately. Now if we use exclusion to limit ourselves to teams coming into a series off a win versus teams off a loss, this is what we find.
A 1484-1260 (54.0%) record +80 units with only 1 losing season over the past 7 seasons.
The losing season back in 1999 was when the angle went for a combined -1.0 units. A losing season by the slimmest of margins! I still would not blindly bet it but combining this knowledge with other key baseball factors such as:
The public loves betting favorites because they win. They win at about a 58% clip in baseball. The problem is that the money line odds for them are against you because you are betting with the public. Blindly betting you would much rather bet on the underdogs instead of favorites because of the value inherent in betting them.
Regardless, there are some favorites in baseball to avoid betting. I always avoid betting on favorites that play on the road against division rivals. Home dogs are the best thing since sliced bread so I try to avoid betting against them. Thus, avoid the road favorites in the game.
Another type of favorite to avoid is one that is in a slump. For example, betting against favorites that have less than 4 wins L10 has had profitable seasons in 4 of the past 5 years. During that span, blindly betting against these favorites have been +36 units.
Favorites that I commonly avoid are the ones in the American League. The American League is stacked with many great offenses and the pitching advantage is not as strong in the AL because of the DH. Therefore I try to avoid American League favorites. In fact, betting against American League favorites playing division rivals would have won you +63 units over the past 3 seasons. Remember all those games the Devil Rays burned the Yankees in the 2005 MLB Season?
The King of Google Maps just zooms in on this every day around 8:30 PM.
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