Certainly, there have been better songs written than Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately”. But perhaps not many have ever spoken truer lyrics, especially when describing the often-unforgiving judgment of the veteran NFL sports bettor.
We have only reached early in Week Two of the Covid-19 tinged NFL season and already many have pledged a complete lack of confidence in teams they were singing the praises of only a handful of days earlier. In our new wagering obsessed environment here in the US, far too many are rushing to award judgment based on only one four-quarter game. Make that one “against the point spread “performance.
It is nothing new for fans to voice frustration for their hometown or favorite team. But when money is involved or in our case sports wagering, the perspective and reasoning is taken out of context about ten times faster. Add on the media attention that sports wagering is now receiving with lightning speed due to spreading legalization, it is getting out of control.
Jockeying with the remote control any evening and especially on weekends and we are likely to find telecasts that not only mention sports wagering but are dedicating full programming to the subject.
ESPN’s new show “The Daily Wager” is receiving increased ratings and more viewers each day. Filled with handicappers promising “locks and guarantees” by seasoned handicappers with “insider knowledge” to help you score. Unfortunately, many of those unfulfilled promises are often forgotten after one week. Many with angles how certain teams are better plays based on their history in Game Two of past NFL seasons. But overall, all it takes is one good (or bad) performance starting the season to provide a complete 180 spin on their previous opinion and have an influence on the audience as well. If you’re feeling lucky, sign-up to our NFL Pick’em Contest and get a chance to win a $200 Amazon voucher.
With the increasing spread of sports wagering throughout the US, it has become possible to trend the flow of overall wagering dollar support for specific teams. It is NOT a guarantee of positive results to wager upon, however in the NFL specifically, it is the best barometer for all “point spread” popular sports to gauge a potential edge.
This was not possible in previous years prior to 2018, when all legal sports wagering was restricted to Nevada and virtually all wagering for the US was either conducted through offshore bookmakers or private bookmaking sources.
It is also important to keep updated on the public’s preferences as the lines change. Like horse racing, often the closer a game gets to kickoff can be an important flag of where the “sharps” or expert bettors see the best opportunity.
For example, last week the money on the Kansas City Chiefs could not stop coming in. What began at its earliest as the Chiefs favored at -8.5 ended closing -10 at most sportsbooks. They eventually covered 34-20 and cost the books dearly, who reported receiving approximately 75% wagering on Kansas City.
However, potentially overconfident, and premature loyal bettors may pay the price in only NFL Week Two. This Sunday the Chiefs go on the road for the first time to play the Chargers in Los Angeles. The current line is KC -8.5 and is likely to go higher by kickoff time. Last week the Chargers eked out a win against last year’s doormat Cincinnati Bengals, which resulted in “a push” (tie) versus the point spread.
Conversely, all it took was one shocking bad performance on opening day turning off the public to the Philadelphia Eagles and provide the point spread makers the proof they needed to make a drastic change.
Although they had some legit injury excuses when the Eagles lost 27-17 to the Washington “nameless football team” last Sunday it immediately soured confidence in a majority who had backed them as a solid -6 favorite. Wagering sources provided the Eagles received 70% of the public’s wagering attention. Bettors were counting the money as they rolled to a 17-0 lead. They were in shock not only losing to the spread but several bettors losing huge to a -250 number straight up to win the game.
Result. This week the Eagles play their first game at home at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia as quite a surprising +1.5 underdog to the Los Angeles Rams. A team that inspired many by beating the nation’s darling Dallas Cowboys at their new $5 billion dollar stadium last week. A game that could have easily gone the other way but for a very controversial non pass interference call late in the game.
The “big if” here is that IF the Eagles would have simply found a way to salvage a win last week against Washington and IF the Cowboys would have gotten the call to win, the line this week would likely have been a solid Eagles-3. The one-week judgment has already taken effect as the game opened at Philadelphia -1.5 but has since gone over to Los Angeles Rams a -1.5-current favorite.
The point here is it is sheer suicide to make any conclusive judgment on whether to back or not back one specific NFL team for the length of the entire NFL season after simply one week. Especially this season when there has been no preseason and reduced time to practice due to Covid-19. Many teams will simply adjust better due to the advantage they have with several players remaining onboard from last year.
The best example of that occurred last week with the New Orleans Saints having a relatively easy time handling the Tampa Bay Bucs 34-23, rewarding bettors as a -4 favorite. The “Tom-pa Bay” Bucs were receiving all the headlines with GOAT QB Tom Brady’s debut for a new team loaded with offensive superstars. But it was the longer-tenured Saints at home, led by their own likely NFL Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees that prevailed as the better bet.
From a historical perspective, in a 16 game NFL schedule it almost impossible to be better than 12-4 overall ATS (against the spread), with possibly one or two teams reaching that threshold. On the other side, maybe a few teams fall to an NFL worst 5-11 ATS at season’s end. The large majority fall within a 10-6 to 6-10 mark.
Here is a call to all NFL bettors both seasoned and novice to not abandon ship nor make any swift wagering judgments after only one week on the gridiron. By the time games begin this Sunday, we will all have forgotten what happened or what was supposed to happen last Sunday.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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