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The Value of Coach-Specific Preseason Trends

   by Hollywood Sports - 09/01/2010

Handicapping preseason football presents a unique challenge to bettors. While we hope that we have a good understanding of the relative strengths of each team's first unit offense and defense, the impact of rookies, free agent acquisitions and the fluidity of the ever-changing depth charts poses difficulty in then assessing how these new intangibles will effect the outcome of these games. But there are still some constants from game-to-game. Head coaching historical trends for preseason action deserve more attention. Last Thursday night offered another successful example of this intangible as Green Bay's incredible 59-24 thrashing of the Colts made the Over 15-4 in all the preseason games that Mike McCarthy has coached for the Packers. Is this a statistical aberration -- or is something going on regarding how McCarthy manages his preseason games?

While most of the time I find coach-specific ATS trends to be inconsequential, these metrics do make more sense in preseason football. Different coaches treat the preseason differently regarding playing time, the implementation of schemes and the need to promote a culture of winning. For example, while some coaches pay little attention to game-planning against their opponent, Tony Sparano is now 7-0 ATS in all the preseason games he has coached for the Dolphins with at least six days to prepare after Miami's 27-26 win over Jacksonville in week two of the preseason. Coincidence? And speaking of the Jaguars, their week one 28-27 loss as a 3-point underdog to Philly made Jack Del Rio 11-3 ATS on the road over his entire preseason career as a head coach. While Del Rio is notorious for a light training camp, he may balance that by making sure his team takes road preseason games very seriously. After starting the preseason 0-2, coach Gary Kubiak was frustrated with the overall effort of his Texans' club and made it clear he wanted his team to come out with regular season intensity in his teams first home preseason game of the season against their in-state rival, Dallas Cowboys. Houston responded with a decisive 23-7 preseason win. While Kubiak may not always take his preseason games as seriously as that one, it is interesting to note that Dallas coach Wade Phillips later complained that Kubiak and his coaches had the nerve to game plan against specific Dallas' schemes. Besides the humor in witnessing Phillips complain about teams actually preparing against his team, it is telling how seriously -- or not -- Phillips takes preseason preparations. Duly noted -- and if he is coaching in Dallas next season, this anecdote will be remembered. More importantly, an argument can be made that how a coach treats his team's preseason games may be the most important intangible in successfully handicap the preseason. Identifying metrics that expose head coaching trends in specific situations may illuminate some very nice opportunities to pounce on. Best of luck for us -- Frank.

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