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Hot Baseball Teams/New NFL Coaches

   by Bryan Leonard - 08/11/2006

One thing that stood out from Sunday’s NFL preseason opener was that the new coach won and covered again. After a dominating opening drive by the Eagles’ first stringers, the Raiders controlled the tempo much of the rest of the way, getting the win as a +3 dog. Philly is coached by Andy Reid, a successful coach who has taken the Eagles to four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. Reid has nothing to prove in preseason (in fact, he is now 10-18 in preseason games). Oakland is coached by Art Shell, who was coaching his first game since 1994.

Teams can often come out and play hard for a new coach, even though it is exhibition season. Last year, the Browns hired Romeo Crennel and he went 3-1 straight up and 4-0 against the spread in August. The Rams go into action Thursday against the Colts. St. Louis has a first-year head coach in Scott Linehan, something to keep in mind. The Lions also open play this weekend for new coach Rod Marinelli, as do the Bills (Dick Jauron), Chiefs (Herm Edwards), Texans (Gary Kubiak), Saints (Sean Payton), Packers (Mike McCarthy) and Vikings (Brad Childress). New coaches are already 1-0 SU/ATS in 2006!

The baseball pennant races are in full swing, and there’s an old Las Vegas slogan, “Never bet against a hot roller.â€쳌 It can apply to sports betting, as well. Teams that are hot often stay hot, while teams that are cold are better to look at as a go-against than as a play-on. The Twins and Yankees are two AL teams that have been on a roll the last month.

The old betting adage is even more important when hot baseball teams are fighting for their playoff lives or for division titles. The Twins are certainly making an impressive move to overtake the White Sox for the Wild Card spot, while the Dodgers have gotten hot and have made the wacky NL West even more competitive, winning 9 in a row. Teams that are hot often have different reasons to be motivated.

For instance, late last season the Oakland Athletics went on an incredible tear the last two months. Novice bettors can think, “Well, the A’s can’t keep winning. I’m going to start betting against them.â€쳌 This would have been a big mistake, too, as the A’s just keep right on rolling. When teams are hot there is a combination of confidence and a lack of pressure on the players. This helps them to hit, field and play their best ball. A team can easily shake off an error in the middle of a game, for example, and not let it both them. Players do feel pressure.

I recall last season when I bet the Baltimore Orioles in consecutive games. I did it for several reasons, the biggest being that the Orioles fired their manager. Historically, teams that make managerial changes in mid-season usually respond right away and play better. Baltimore rewarded me, as well, with a pair of wins. After one of the games, the new O’s manager said, "I saw some real signs of life that I hadn't seen in quite a while. We ran the bases real aggressively, and that's one of the things I like to see." The same thing had happened earlier that season, too, when the Royals let Tony Pena go, and they responded for the new manager with an impressive win streak, which included a sweep of the Yankees as big dogs each time.

Conversely, teams on losing streaks can bring all kinds of pressure on themselves, even to winning teams. It has happened this season twice with the Cardinals, a FIRST place team! Pitchers and hitters were trying too hard to stop the streak, and playing worse as a result. Barring a major shake up, such as a manager being fired, it’s better to bet against slumping teams and play on hot teams than to try and outsmart yourself and try and anticipate when the streaks might end.

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