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NFL Edges To Ponder

   by Scott Spreitzer - 09/01/2008

If there was ever a time where the general public should lack confidence in their selections, IT'S WEEK ONE!

*Many teams have made significant roster changes since the prior season. The public has only paid casual attention to that.

*Most teams have just gone through the motions during the Exhibition season. Many public bettors have latched on to "hot" or "cold" streaks in their mind that are completely meaningless.

*The public typically bets most heavily on the teams that made the playoffs the prior season. Historically, many of those teams have ended up playing flat because it's so hard to get up for a generic September game when your last memory was a huge January game.

None of that matters to the public. These are football bettors, and they haven't lost a football bet in months! They've rebuilt their bankrolls by working for a living, and now it's time to let some money fly at the NFL board.

Let me ask you this. Do you remember what happened last year in Week One? Off the top of your head, could you even give me a result from any game played that week? I'm sure if I listed some they'd come back to you. But, without clues, can you run through those first week results for me?

Was it a dog week or a favorite week?

Were the games high scoring or low scoring?

Did the 2006 playoff teams start well or poorly?

How did the best and worst Preseason teams perform once the games started for real?

Did certain styles of play have an edge over others?

Football handicapping is complicated. And, I'm not suggesting that one week out of one season is enough of a sample size to draw any conclusions. But the questions I just listed are those we should be evaluating from games played the last several seasons. The evidence you uncover will give you a much betters shot at picking NFL winners this weekend.

Let's take them in order:

*Whether it's a dog or favorite week doesn't reflect so much on the teams as it does the betting market. Does the first weekend see prices go too high because the public loves to bet favorites? Or, are the lines too low because good teams are much better suited to start the season faster than lesser teams are?

*If defenses have an edge over offenses because they're less complicated to put together, then you should be betting Unders this week. If offenses have an edge because they can spread out their weaponry and attack for 60 full minutes, then you should be betting Overs. Who has the edge in Week One? Is there a 55-60% advantage that you've been missing?

*You've probably heard about the trend that says you're supposed to go against Super Bowl winners. It often works very well. It didn't last year when Indianapolis crushed New Orleans in a Thursday Night game. What about all playoff teams? Are they generally flat and overpriced, or sharper than most because of coaching and talent?

*Does Preseason football have any predictive value at all? Should you bet on teams that went 3-1 or better, and go against teams who went 1-3 or worse? Have you ever even studied that? What about Preseason stats? If a quarterback had bad stats in exhibition games, is he doomed to failure in Week One of the regular season?

*Many pro teams now run the "West Coast" offense or variations of it. Does this approach start the season well? Or does it take a few weeks at full speed for everyone to get their timing down? What about teams who prefer to focus on the running game? Do they move the ball with less risk, or are defenses so fresh that the running game can't go anywhere until later in the season?

I have asked and answered those questions to my own satisfaction. As a result, I'm very optimistic about getting off to a fast start this season. I strongly encourage you to do some digging yourself so you can be best prepared for the coming week.

I'll leave you with these Week One notes from 2007 that shed light on how soft the lines can be in the debut games:

*Half the card saw a team side cover by double digits.

*10 of 16 games saw the total miss by double digits.

*Eight teams won their games by two touchdowns or more, even though nobody was favored by more than eight points.

*The biggest favorite on the day lost outright (Jacksonville -7.5 lost to Tennessee 13-10).

There are edges to exploit. Let's do it!

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