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Wipe the NFL Slate Clean

   by Scott Spreitzer - 10/15/2007

We’ve reached the point in the NFL season where pointspread records for
the season start to become misleading. In the first month-and-a-half,
the records actually do a pretty good job of explaining the season.
Struggling teams have poor ATS records. Hot teams have good ATS records.
That’s about to change!

*Teams that started hot are about to cool off a bit, but the general
public will still expect high lines in their games. If you try to bet on
the top pointspread teams from this point forward, the hurdles will just
be too high. You’ll win some. You’ll lose more than you win.

*Teams that started poorly are making adjustments that will lead to
improvements in play. The public will be betting against these teams
hand over fist because the results have been so ugly so far. Going
against poor ATS teams with your own money will be a losing proposition.
Sure, one or two of the struggling teams will just be bad all year. Most
will start covering their spreads though. The hurdles are very low for
them to do that.

This combination of dynamics helps explain why the general public does
so poorly year after year. They lose in September and early October
because they’re betting on last year’s perceptions rather than this
year’s rosters. As soon as they talk themselves into betting based on
this year’s results, teams start regressing to the mean!

I think you’ll be better served drawing a big fat "X" threw the ATS
records you have right now for the 2007 season. Just start over. Put
everybody at 0-0 against the spread. Then, let what happens the next few
weeks guide your thinking.

*Some off the radar teams are about to go on nice cover streaks that
could last the full season. Nobody will take them seriously because of
the poor ATS mark in September. And, even if they cover a few in a row,
they’ll just look like a 50/50 team in the full season numbers. Once the
public gives up on a team, it takes a lot to get them back in the fold.

*Some media favorites are about to go ice cold against the spread. They
may keep winning straight up, but they won’t win by enough to make
their backers any money. By starting over now, you’ll see how 0-1 turns
into 0-2, and 1-3, and 2-5 ATS the rest of the season. If you don’t do
that, a big name team might go 0-4 ATS the next month and just be 50/50
for the year. That 0-4 is going to have better predictive value in the
second half of the season than the 50/50 will because the lines always
stay stacked against hot starters. Based on what I was hearing in the
sportsbooks last week, the public has already decided who’s going to be
playing in the Super Bowl!

Start over now, and let these new ATS records influence your selection
process the rest of the way. History suggests you’ll be very happy with
the results.

My only caveats would be these:

*If a lesser team has been struggling because of injuries, wait until
they get healthy to start betting them. You don’t want to throw good
money at a team that just doesn’t have the horses to compete when
shorthanded. A team like this should stay in the go-against category
until they get healthy.

*If a hot team is one that the public just won’t believe in regardless,
you can consider backing them until the line catches up. Last year the
New York Jets covered three of their first four games. The public
couldn’t ever buy them as a real contender, so the Jets kept right on
covering. New York finished 11-5 ATS, meaning they were 8-4 ATS after
that hot start. I think you probably know which teams the public is in
love with already this year. You can go against those teams. See if you
can sidestep a pothole with whoever this year’s version of the NY Jets
turns out to be.

You know that I believe the best value in the NFL over the long haul
involves betting on underdogs. This particular approach will give you
plenty of dog action. You’ll be betting against overpriced favorites as
they come back to earth after hot starts. You’ll be betting on bounce
back underdogs at great prices because the public has given up on them.

So erase those ATS records and get ready to win!

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