Don’t let the summer heat fool you, the new NFL season is upon us already! The teams are now all in their respective training camps, rookies are trying to make the cuts, veterans are trying to get season ready, and the pads are popping at daily practices. This is an exciting time as we get our first glance at how the teams will be built for the season. Its still very early of course and the final rosters won’t be set for another month, but its nice to see how the new draft picks are working out, and fun to see the in team competition for starting spots.
As many may or may not know, the season starts off with 4 preseason exhibition games to help round the teams up to playing speed. It’s a way to theoretically get teams back into the game after the off season, and get a look at some of the new players in a somewhat real game atmosphere, as opposed to just a practice field. It’s a farce really as most regulars rarely play so game quality is usually sub par, and tickets are sold at normal season prices to fans coming out to the stadium looking to get there NFL fix that they have been missing for the past 6 months. Its really a money grab for the team owners. What I always found funny about these preseason games is, they get handicapped and wagered on just as if they were regular season games. I always thought it very unwise to ever wager on exhibition games, especially when many of the players playing in them aren’t even going to be on the team in a few weeks, and most of the stars and starters sit out so not to risk injury for the upcoming season. So when trying to rate a team and player performance it is a nightmare to do it in the conventional sense…..but maybe there is something else.
When setting lines for the games the books are really trying to sway bettors in a direction based on the money coming in. When guys like me handicap games I try to eliminate the money bias and just look for the actual match up advantage. During the regular season that’s where you can find the best direction for wagering, as well as how far off the money has pushed the actual true play advantage will give a good strength of wager determination. Preseason games are a different animal. There is a none to minimal advantage in one team over the other on the playing field. The talent that separates the good from bad teams is rarely on the field more than just a few minutes. The rest of the game is played by what amounts to evenly matched second, third, and even fourth, string players. Basically only the name of the team is the same as what they will field come regular season.
So with this being said I have become curious about a possible trend that actually may lead to possible wagering on preseason games with some degree of success. Let me first stress that I still in no way feel I have all the data available to reliably put my money where my mouth is so to speak, but it has intrigued me enough for at least discussion. This trend I speak of is taking the underdog teams that are getting points in their favor and basically wagering on them. The point of this being that just about all of the preseason games are just about neutral with non starters and even eventual non roster players playing each other. As I said before, the talent that puts one team above another really has little to no factor in these exhibition games as they will play one maybe two series for 3 out of the four games. The lines get set based solely on reputation of what the potential of the starting team will be which allows the squares, (bettors who bet with little inside knowledge, and usually take the favorites) to drive up a totally bogus point spread based on their money.
This preseason I am going to track this trend to see if what I have noticed has any merit. There’s a few aspects of this theory I want to examine such as the strength of home underdogs, and various size spreads and their consistency with team popularity and market size. I plan on doing no on field team talent analysis, this is all about my theory on exploiting the money driven lines. Technically that’s what all handicapping is about even during the regular season, but this is different. This is all about the line and nothing about the talent of the team. The only caveat to this system exists in the 3rd game of the preseason. In this game the team’s starters play significantly more and will definitely factor into the betting line. We will ignore this week for this study. Games 1, 2, and 4 of the preseason will be the only ones we pay attention to for data gathering material.
So to be clear, I will not give wagering tips during this preseason study. Its really just me gathering some data on a theory that has me curious. I do not want anyone who follows my weekly wagering tips to think I am giving them anything to wager their bankroll on, I am not. But, who knows, sometime down the line we may find there is credence in the theory. For now its just for fun, and we can even compare this years results to past historical data and see if any of this is at all relevant, or just the musings of a man impatiently waiting for week 1 of the true regular NFL season. Check back before and after each weeks preseason games (aside from preseason game 3) to see whats happening, I will post each weeks underdog picks as well as the results along with my comments. Please feel free to add your own as well. I hope this proves as interesting as I think it will
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.