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'Capping the Preseason

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Editor’s Note: Paul Bovi notched an eye-opening 61% documented record in the NFL last year, including a 10-3 preseason mark. In the last three years, Paul owns an unprecedented 24-5 (83%) record in the preseason. Check the records for yourself and then get all of his early picks for free in his discounted season package!

Sunday nights’ Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio officially launches the NFL season, in this, the 19th campaign since the league was incepted back in 1920. Oh baby!

Squares and sharps are easily marked right about now by way of their attitude towards football betting during the preseason.

Novices will shy away from placing even a single preseason football bet, their theory being that the teams are in a state of flux, and the best players may or may not see action.

Sophisticated football handicappers understand that these abnormalities transcend into wagering opportunities if they can properly identify the coaching strategies that will dictate how the game will play out, which includes the emphasis placed on winning versus just evaluating talent.

It is evident that the bookmakers agree with the sharps since preseason NFL wagering limits tend to be skimpy at best while betting lines are known to move upwards of 5 to 6 points from the opening number to kick off. .

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As a general rule, there is an inverse relationship between the betting limit and the amount of risk that the house has determined it is willing to take on. When the house takes on that added risk they tend to move their lines quicker to dissuade one-sided action which effectively minimizes their exposure. In other words, the books realize that sound football handicapping can eliminate their edge in the preseason

Travel is always a factor, but it tends to have a limited effect during the preseason. Players are obviously fresher, and maintain that freshness by absorbing fewer bumps and bruises by as a result of the expanded rosters which translates into reduced playing time.

During the preseason, the rigors of the NFL schedule have yet to take its toll, while cross-country trips are a rarity. There are only two such games this preseason as the Cardinals travel to Heinz Field in the opening week for a Super Bowl rematch with the Steelers, while the Chargers take on the Falcons in Atlanta in the third preseason game, which is recognized by most coaches as the most critical contest in terms of starter preparation and evaluating talent in advance of slicing the roster to the 53-man limit.

From a results standpoint, coaching tendencies are the single most critical factor in determining the success or failure of an NFL team during the preseason. Obviously, the coach dictates who plays, for how long, and must decide whether to tip the scales towards winning or just evaluating personnel. Successful football handicapping involves in-depth analysis of a coach’s projected game plan.

Those coaches who are established and with a history of success tend to care less about chalking up what are essentially meaningless victories as they are generally beyond having to prove anything to ownership or the fan base. Jeff Fisher, Mike Tomlin, Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin, John Fox, and Bill Belichik fall into this category, though the latter three have historically treated sports bettors favorably during the preseason.

By contrast, those coaches on the hot seat tend to step it up during this time as a means to reasserting a winning attitude and creating some added job insurance for themselves. Notable coaches that fall into this category are Marvin Lewis, Dick Jauron, Wade Phillips Gary Kubiak, and Jack Del Rio. It should be noted that the latter two have combined to go 23-10 ATS (69.6%) during their preseason coaching tenures with their respective clubs.

New coaches are always worth consideration as they are very likely to try to instill a winning attitude from the outset, even at the expense of playing their regulars added minutes. Ego factors in as they want to show friends, family, fans, and management that they are a worthy choice while quickly building a foundation for success. Nine new coaches populate the NFL this year so there will be abundant opportunities from which to choose.

Beware the coaches that bring in new schemes or alignments as there is usually a period of adjustment that will likely occur. While the philosophy of taking two steps back to go three forward makes sense in the long run, it may create wagering opportunities once the learning process gets underway. There are at least a few NFL teams that will be shifting to a 3–4 defense this season, something NFL handicappers should be on the look out for.

It stands to reason that one must consider the quarterbacking position from an entirely different prospective during the preseason. The seasoned starter is given as much playing time as is needed to sharpen his game and little more if anything. Thus, analyzing the QB depth chart and rotation are critical in determining how much productivity will be generated from the signal caller position. Teams that carry third string and forth string QB s with solid NFL experience rate a distinct advantage over those teams that will be showcasing rookies who will be seeing an NFL defense for the first time.

The Raiders, Chargers and Texans fall into that category and accordingly should enjoy a decided advantage in the latter stages of their contests.

Remember that gamers like Brady, Manning and Brees will gut it out in November but will give way to upstarts named O’Connell, Sorgi and Brunell during August. It’s all about the rotation. Do your homework!

  
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