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The Good, Bad and Ugly Side of Football Teams

   by Al McMordie - 08/06/2011

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So what teams should a handicapper look to when analyzing odds: The good, the bad or the ugly ones? Well, you should examine all teams and lines in various situations, of course. However, let me say a few words about how bad and very ugly teams can look wonderful in the eyes of the professional handicapper.

Bad teams can fly under the radar far more easily than good ones. Remember that lines are set in part with public perception in mind. High profile NFL teams that have been to the Super Bowl over the last ten years, like the Packers, Patriots, Colts and Steelers, are known as “public teams.” Oddsmakers take extra care not to make bad numbers with these teams as they are guaranteed to attract more money on a regular basis than, say, the Bills or Seahawks. It's the same in college, too, with big-name programs like Florida, Oklahoma and LSU.

Before the season starts teams can look great on paper, but things don't always play out that way. Well coached teams and winning ones are also more likely to show up and play hard every week. However, small schools and consistently bad teams do not attract as much interest from the betting public.

The Arizona Cardinals hope to bounce back after a train wreck season, dealing for QB Kevin Kolb to (hopefully) straighten out their offensive problems. Despite winning the NFC three years ago, note that this organization had a decade of incompetent play and very bad teams. From 1998-2002 the Cardinals were 37-59-2 against the spread as an underdog! Last season they fell back to those old ways going 5-11 ATS.

Will the Bengals ever get better? Last season they started 3-9 against the spread amid infighting and unhappiness. Marvin Lewis appeared to turn things around for a while, but notice that the Bengals were 21-42 against the number as a dog from 1998-2002 (2-14 s/u, 4-12 ATS in 2002 overall). Real bad organizations can be consistently bad against the number. No wonder Ocho Cinco wanted out and Carson Palmer wants to retire!

There are several factors to keep in mind when analyzing bad college and pro teams that can help you as a bettor. Ugly teams can offer go-against opportunities and here are some things to keep in mind about bad teams as you analyze the card each week.



1. Lethargy: Bad teams can develop a sense of complacency and lethargy both in practice and on game day. The Chicago Bears had high hopes two years ago after trading for QB Jay Cutler, but a lot of things fell apart. After a 3-1 start, things went sour in a hurry and the Bears didn't seem to care too often, going 3-9 against the spread to end the season. Last season the Houston Texans were supposed to take a big step forward, but they went the other way after a 2-0 start, finishing 4-10 SU, 4-9-1 ATS. With a great offense (No. 4 in yards) and a terrible defense (dead last), note that Houston was 11-5 over the total.



2. Disenchantment: Athletes are human and can get frustrated and not show up to play hard if they're not happy. It will be worth watching the current situation at Ohio State, with a new coach, the offseason suspension of several starters and the early exit of their QB. They were a Top 5 pick before all that mess. It’s similar to USC last year, with a new coach in Lane Kiffin and

the stench of NCAA sanctions that took away scholarships. For the record, USC was a money-burner last year at 5-8 ATS (starting 0-3 against the number).

In baseball, the Dodgers have had a frustrating season on and off the field, currently marred in fifth place in the NL West and going nowhere. How happy can the players be during rebuilding or train wreck seasons?



3. Player Revolt: Pro and college teams can quit on their coach, making for terrific go-against spots. Two years ago, the Denver Broncos appeared to quit on first-year coach Josh McDaniels, during a 0-4 SU/1-3 ATS finish, then did quit on him during last year’s 4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS disaster. The 49ers, too, were a disaster, fighting on the sidelines during a miserable 6-10 SU/ATS season, despite some predicting a division title.

A few years ago this happened to the Arizona Wildcats as the players tuned out Coach John Mackovich. For betting purposes, this is often evident when the team is supposed to lose: Arizona was 1-10 straight up and 4-7 against the spread last season as an underdog. If an unhappy team knows it's going to lose, why play hard? When situations pop up like this, a good handicapper needs to look beyond stats and angles.



Well coached teams are far less likely to suffer from these maladies, of course. This is less likely for pro football teams such as the Steelers, Patriots or Eagles. It won't happen for well coached college programs, either, such as the current coaches at Boise State, Penn State, Florida or Alabama. But for handicapping purposes, it can be just as profitable to look to go against bad teams with numerous problems, rather than to search for good teams to wager on. Because ugly teams can look oh so beautiful when you're cashing tickets at the betting window!

Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.



Al's Article FINISHED.txt

Article, Sunday, August 7, 2011
The Good, Bad and Ugly Side of Football Teams
by Big Al McMordie

So what teams should a handicapper look to when analyzing odds: The good, the bad or the ugly ones? Well, you should examine all teams and lines in various situations, of course. However, let me say a few words about how bad and very ugly teams can look wonderful in the eyes of the professional handicapper.
Bad teams can fly under the radar far more easily than good ones. Remember that lines are set in part with public perception in mind. High profile NFL teams that have been to the Super Bowl over the last ten years, like the Packers, Patriots, Colts and Steelers, are known as “public teams.” Oddsmakers take extra care not to make bad numbers with these teams as they are guaranteed to attract more money on a regular basis than, say, the Bills or Seahawks. It's the same in college, too, with big-name programs like Florida, Oklahoma and LSU.
Before the season starts teams can look great on paper, but things don't always play out that way. Well coached teams and winning ones are also more likely to show up and play hard every week. However, small schools and consistently bad teams do not attract as much interest from the betting public.
The Arizona Cardinals hope to bounce back after a train wreck season, dealing for QB Kevin Kolb to (hopefully) straighten out their offensive problems. Despite winning the NFC three years ago, note that this organization had a decade of incompetent play and very bad teams. From 1998-2002 the Cardinals were 37-59-2 against the spread as an underdog! Last season they fell back to those old ways going 5-11 ATS.
Will the Bengals ever get better? Last season they started 3-9 against the spread amid infighting and unhappiness. Marvin Lewis appeared to turn things around for a while, but notice that the Bengals were 21-42 against the number as a dog from 1998-2002 (2-14 s/u, 4-12 ATS in 2002 overall). Real bad organizations can be consistently bad against the number. No wonder Ocho Cinco wanted out and Carson Palmer wants to retire!
There are several factors to keep in mind when analyzing bad college and pro teams that can help you as a bettor. Ugly teams can offer go-against opportunities and here are some things to keep in mind about bad teams as you analyze the card each week.

1. Lethargy: Bad teams can develop a sense of complacency and lethargy both in practice and on game day. The Chicago Bears had high hopes two years ago after trading for QB Jay Cutler, but a lot of things fell apart. After a 3-1 start, things went sour in a hurry and the Bears didn't seem to care too often, going 3-9 against the spread to end the season. Last season the Houston Texans were supposed to take a big step forward, but they went the other way after a 2-0 start, finishing 4-10 SU, 4-9-1 ATS. With a great offense (No. 4 in yards) and a terrible defense (dead last), note that Houston was 11-5 over the total.

2. Disenchantment: Athletes are human and can get frustrated and not show up to play hard if they're not happy. It will be worth watching the current situation at Ohio State, with a new coach, the offseason suspension of several starters and the early exit of their QB. They were a Top 5 pick before all that mess. It’s similar to USC last year, with a new coach in Lane Kiffin and
the stench of NCAA sanctions that took away scholarships. For the record, USC was a money-burner last year at 5-8 ATS (starting 0-3 against the number).
In baseball, the Dodgers have had a frustrating season on and off the field, currently marred in fifth place in the NL West and going nowhere. How happy can the players be during rebuilding or train wreck seasons?

3. Player Revolt: Pro and college teams can quit on their coach, making for terrific go-against spots. Two years ago, the Denver Broncos appeared to quit on first-year coach Josh McDaniels, during a 0-4 SU/1-3 ATS finish, then did quit on him during last year’s 4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS disaster. The 49ers, too, were a disaster, fighting on the sidelines during a miserable 6-10 SU/ATS season, despite some predicting a division title.
A few years ago this happened to the Arizona Wildcats as the players tuned out Coach John Mackovich. For betting purposes, this is often evident when the team is supposed to lose: Arizona was 1-10 straight up and 4-7 against the spread last season as an underdog. If an unhappy team knows it's going to lose, why play hard? When situations pop up like this, a good handicapper needs to look beyond stats and angles.

Well coached teams are far less likely to suffer from these maladies, of course. This is less likely for pro football teams such as the Steelers, Patriots or Eagles. It won't happen for well coached college programs, either, such as the current coaches at Boise State, Penn State, Florida or Alabama. But for handicapping purposes, it can be just as profitable to look to go against bad teams with numerous problems, rather than to search for good teams to wager on. Because ugly teams can look oh so beautiful when you're cashing tickets at the betting window! Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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