Well the 2013 preseason has finished up. With another losing week for the underdogs going 5-11 in week 4, the underdogs have a final preseason record of a dismal 24 -33 equating to a very disappointing 42% winning percentage. Not at all what I would have suspected. Now of course this one season study doesn’t offer a huge sample size to make any statistical conclusions, but the trend for my underdog theory is not promising based on this past preseason’s results. A look into in to the stats a little deeper offers little hope for the underdogs at least to date.Trying to pull something positive out of the pure underdog picks proves to be a daunting task. I looked at it a few ways trying to see if there may be anyway we may have pulled out a win this preseason with these dogs, not a chance.
Underdogs getting +3 points or more went 10 – 17 for a 37% winning percentage
Underdogs getting +2.5 points or less went 9 – 11 for a 45% winning percentage
Outright underdog winners, meaning not including the given points, went 16 – 21 for a 43% winning percentage. (11 of those wins came from week 1)
Week 1 proved to be the only positive week for the underdogs. But even as it being a rather successful week for them with an 11-6 record for a 64.7% winning percentage, based on what I have observed, it appears at this moment to be just a a lucky bounce of the ball so to speak. None of the week 1 underdog winners needed their points to win, as well as there wasn’t a point spread above 3.5 so their seemed yet to be any significant edge either way. If there is any underdog edge to be had in preseason though I may suspect it may lie in the first week. There really is no real or current statistical basis to rate or rank teams at that point. So possibly taking teams with points may make sense, but it has yet to be proven to me.
So to me, so far this underdog betting theory has been shown to be a negative proposition. At best it’s still inconclusive due to the small amount of data that can be gathered in just 1 preseason, but just trying to handicap these games based without on field performance may prove inefficient. The games are not as neutral as I would have hoped or expected. Although starters do not play full games, many teams do leave some out longer than others, as well as some backups (especially in the quarterback position) are sometimes just as good as starters on other teams. Even just a few more minutes of quality play over inferior players can change the outcome. This is why possibly week 1 of preseason may still hold hope of being a positive play. Not only do most starters play very sparingly, but even they are not at the top of their game yet as it’s the first time of the year they play at full game speed. It’s after this first week that it seems the talent kicks in to play slightly more. For now it’s just an observation, we’ll see what pans out in the future.
There was however a very possible positive that came out of examining these preseason games. The over totals hit 30 out 47 games with 1 push for a 63.8% winning percentage. Now that’s a positive that we can work with. Most impressive were the home team favorites hitting the over total an astounding 78.5% of the time! As I have stated over and over so many times, these results are but a tip of the iceberg so these findings are not conclusive. But given the fact that the over total mark was hit so consistently, regardless if you look at underdogs or favorites it did lead me to a very possible trend.
As I have mentioned in a previous article I do believe it’s easier for the offenses to be ahead of the defenses in preseason due to its harder to react to a game plan than it is to execute one, especially when the rust of the off season is just starting to shake off. But more to the point there is a new set of rules being implemented that is really helping offenses and hindering defenses, as least until they can get used to them. Defensive players can no longer “launch” themselves during a tackle and cannot hit with the crown of their helmet, nor make contact with the helmet of those being tackled. Furthermore the referees are being far more strict with contact to the quarterback. While many of these rules have been in place for a while, they are now being strictly enforced due to head injuries and a massive lawsuit just recently settled against the NFL from 4,500 players for $765,000,000. These rules now being enforced has brought on far more penalties that have greatly enhanced the offensive side of the ball, as well as slowed down the defenses as they learn how to adjust. I believe this is accounted for more in the regular season totals, but preseason totals were far lower and easily exploitable it seemed.
So basically, what I thought was there going into this preseason thought process, may not be, while something even more viable may have raised up instead. Tough to say for sure with just 1 preseason to look at, but one thing is for sure, it has opened my eyes to future possibilities. Preseason NFL football has brought me far more interest than ever before, and in turn I believe has opened up more insight for the upcoming regular season.
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