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Don't Over-react to Early Season Blowouts

   by Scott Spreitzer - 09/17/2007

Last season, there were some early scoreboard blowouts that led people
to believe we were going to have another "year of the favorite" in pro
football. And, even if they weren't prone to take every favorite, they
believed that certain teams were going to be dominant on a regular basis.

Despite a reputation of parity in the NFL, we suddenly saw Indianapolis
laying a whopping 18 points to Tennessee in Week Five of last season.
The Colts had covered a 13-point spread in a 43-24 rout of Houston in
Week Two (gaining over 500 yards in the process), and the wagering
public was sure they'd toy with rookie Vince Young and Tennessee. When
it was all said and done, Indianapolis was lucky to escape with a 14-13
victory.

They would subsequently be laying 7 points on the road at Tennessee in
early December. Tennessee won that game 20-17.

Just because top notch teams win blowouts in September doesn’t mean
they’re going to keep doing that all season. In fact, the reverse is
true. Even the very best teams have found it better to coast a bit
during the mid part of the season in hopes of peaking at the right time.

Indianapolis would ultimately go on to win the Super Bowl last season.
Yet, they were only 3-7-1 ATS as favorites in the regular season after
that early blowout of Houston. The perception that Indy would roll over
inferior opposition cost Las Vegas bettors a lot of money.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Oakland Raiders put together a
team in 2006 that may have been one of the worst in the modern era.
Well, the defense was great. But, everything else about the team reeked.
The offense was an absolute embarrassment. After an 0-4 start straight
up and against the spread to the season, the wagering public completely
gave up on the Raiders. They loaded up on opponents regardless of the
number.

Oakland would cover six if its next seven games, even though five of
those games came against eventual playoff teams, and a sixth came
against the defending Super Bowl champion.

As weird as it might seem, you have to use September NFL results as
“inverseâ€쳌 indicators for many teams. Whoever starts out well is likely
to become overpriced by oddsmakers and the wagering public. Whoever
starts out slowly could become a value team because nobody gives them
any respect.

I can already tell from overhearing chatter in the sportsbooks that the
public is about to do the wrong thing once again! Early blowouts are
causing too much excitement about some teams, too much scorn for others.
We found out how much when the dogs went nuts in week-two!

Remember that the following factors influence top notch teams:

*They want to start the season well to send a message to the league and
to get an early leg up in their divisional races.

*They can’t play at a peak level for 16 games though. It’s physically
impossible. This kind of team tends to have a strong first month, tread
water for two months, then try to peak late. There’s no prize for being
the best team in October. Peaking in November leads to a wasted season.

*As a result, their early victories drive Las Vegas pointspreads up just
as the team is about to hit cruise control for awhile. The value is in
going AGAINST these teams at high prices once they take their foot off
the gas.

The following influence bottom of the barrel teams:

*They don’t have the pieces in place to start the season effectively,
and often get steamrolled by good teams who do.

*They make adjustments that help fix many of the early problems just as
the better teams are getting ready to plateau.

*They look so bad in the game films that upcoming opponents don’t take
them seriously.

*As a result, they start lifting their level of play at a time when they
can catch better teams napping. The public is still betting on old
perceptions. These live dogs jump up and bite them.

As we watch games on TV in September, we should be mapping out
strategy for October and November. In the past, many have done
the exact opposite of how it should be done. The uninformed public looked for
“takeâ€쳌 teams and “go againstâ€쳌 teams based on scoreboard results. This
time around, try using the early scores as an “inverse indicatorâ€쳌 for
the rest of the season. It takes a little courage to pull the trigger
with this approach. History makes it very clear that you’ll have success
doing so.

The stars of September are going to be the overpriced favorites of
October and November. The duds of September will be value teams offering
great value.

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