With the Super Bowl parade come and gone and the last of the red and blue confetti swept from the streets of New England, it officially becomes the NFL offseason, the half a year or so of ‘dead time’ before the 2019-20 football season kicks off again in September.
And the perfect time for smart gamblers to prepare for their next betting season.
Here is a (hopefully helpful) checklist of what gamblers can do to make sure that by the time the first NFL kickoff of the season happens – right now it’s tentatively scheduled for September 5, 2019 and hosted by Super Bowl LIII Champion New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium – they’re as prepared to bet as the players are to play.
For risktakers of all levels…
For many football fans, gambling on the NFL is something they do in the moment to make watching the game a bit more interesting, but that shouldn’t stop them from wanting to have a better chance of winning the bet.
And for those a bit more serious about how they spend their gambling allowance, being prepared means being knowledgeable about who they’re betting on and what kinds of bets are available.
Regardless of the type of bettor you are, there are some important steps you can take before you begin the season and we list them here for you.
NFL gamblers' 2019-20 Offseason Check-List
1. Evaluate all your 2018-19 bets
If you haven’t been keeping track of the bets you have been making, this would be the time to start doing that.
For now on, keep a simple spreadsheet on your laptop or a little notebook in your briefcase or fanny pack and jot down whatever football bets you happen to make.
That way during the offseason, you can look through them as a whole and begin to categorize them and study the patterns.
What type of bets were more successful for you?
Obviously, that is what you are trying to identify – the bets that you win most consistently are the ones that you should be studying and repeating.
Did you win more when you bet in the beginning of the week or closer to game time?
Did you win more betting on a particular team or conference or division?
Use past info to determine future gambling strategy
If find you are more successful making certain bets over others, use that information to guide your future betting strategy.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on making the bets that weren’t as successful, especially if you enjoyed making them.
It just means that to get better at those bets, you should be gathering a lot more background information to help guide your wager better, which is something the offseason break is perfect for doing.
The next three items on the checklist will help keep you better informed, which in turn will help you bet more successfully.
2. Evaluate teams’ potential rosters
Every NFL team will refill their 53-man roster during the offseason, and it’s not a given that the same players will return every year.
Keeping track of how a team is (or more importantly, isn’t) building up and improving on their current roster is vital to making an informed bet.
Here are seven aspects to examine in order to better evaluate a team’s evolving roster:
- Trades – Examine the trades the team made during last previous season – some were one-year deals that will have to be re-signed and there may not be enough salary cap to do that; keep track of upcoming trades, because those players will affect what holes the team will still need to fill by using the draft and free agency.
- Free Agency – Keep your ears open to which players become unrestricted free agents and which teams are interested in them because again those players will affect what holes the team will still need to fill by using trades and the draft.
- NFL Combine – Now there is television coverage of the NFL Combine, the event from February 26 – March 4 in Indianapolis where college athletes get timed and tested, pinched and prodded before the NFL draft, so it’s easy to use the combine as a tool for evaluating potential talent that could affect your betting.
- 2019 NFL Draft – You don’t have to watch the entire draft if that’s not fun for you, but at least watch the first round, because it’s those 32 rookies who will make the biggest impact on their teams next season, and that affects how you may bet on them.
- Coaching changes – When a team gets a new head coach (there were eight head coach changes in the NFL this offseason), the system changes and that takes time to adjust to, and that affects a team’s ability to win or their likelihood of losing.
- Major injuries – Injured players can’t play football, and injured stars can’t help their team win, so it pays for gamblers to keep track of who’s going to be ready for the 2019-20 season and who’s going be on the bench and for how long.
- Suspensions – Suspended players can’t play football either, so it’s best for gamblers to figure out which players were using PEDs and whose off-the-field behavior is going to keep them from suiting up (and for how many games?) next season.
3. Keep an eye on teams’ offseason workouts
A betting man or woman can benefit from seeing how willing a team is to come together during the offseason and work out as a unit.
There are three main ways that NFL teams workout in the offseason, so it’s best to keep an eye on all of them:
- Private training – NFL players are mostly millionaires, so paying for private, offseason training is affordable and done often, and it says a lot about how hard a particular player is willing to work on his skills and physical condition, good information if you’re betting on them to cover a spread.
- OTAs – Organized Team Activities, or OTAs, happen starting in April and are used to develop young players, giving fans (and gamblers) their first peek at a team’s evolving roster.
- Training camp – Every team has a training camp towards the end of July where they begin to learn the system and narrow down the roster, the perfect chance for bettors to start eyeballing their favored teams.
4. Study team schedules
The 2019 NFL schedule will be released in mid-April on ESPN and NFL Network, and it provides dates, times, matchups and TV channels for each football game.
Smart gamblers will study all seventeen weeks of the schedule looking for at least three specific things:
- The obvious wins – there are certain matchups that seem like easy pickings (like Patriots vs. Raiders or Jets in Week 1), same as with west coast teams playing east coast games in the winter or on a short week or off a bye, so mark them all down as potential bets.
- Look for Trends – do certain teams do better on certain days (or nights) or against teams in their own division? Mark it all down, every trend, because it could give you an edge in a close bet.
- Identify favorable matchups – do certain teams do better against certain other teams? For example, the Houston Texans have never beaten the Minnesota Vikings or the Philadelphia Eagles, but they've never lost to the Chicago Bears.
There are all types of information on line like that to help you figure out who has trouble beating whom – so mark those down as potential winners.
5. Expand your gambling game
The final way to use the NFL offseason to improve your gambling skills is to broaden your betting horizons.
Here are three easy ways to expand and diversify your approach to betting:
- Learn new bets – use the offseason to shake up however you typically bet by exploring other options, like parlays, teasers and moneylines.
- Learn new stats – are you someone who follows offensive statistics? Start paying attention to the defensive stats, study the post-game stats sheets from last season and begin to focus on the areas of the game that you typically ignore and look for an edge.
- Find new places to place bets – the biggest mistake a gambler can make is to limit where they place bets, which limits the odds that they’re being offered;
By doing some offseason research, you may be able to find more online sportsbooks and take advantage of the different odds and wagers available.
Every offseason, NFL teams and players do their best to improve their skills and strategies in order to give themselves a competitive advantage when the football season begins.
There’s no reason why gamblers shouldn’t do the same and use the NFL offseason to increase their knowledge and expand their strategies while looking for an edge or two that may go unnoticed by those far less prepared.
Never gamble what you don’t have, but when you do dip into your betting kitty, the more knowledge you have the better your chances will be of coming out a winner.