How To Bet On The NFL In Season 2012
Musings on Backing, Laying, Trading, Punting, In-Running and more on the Betting Exchanges and related items of interest in the wide world of sports investing
How should you bet on the NFL this season? With the new season just hours away, today on the blog Cassini gives us some valuable pointers for how to succeed betting the NFL in 2012.
After four weeks of meaningless pre-season ‘exhibition’ matches, the NFL Season gets underway for real on Wednesday, September 5th when reigning champions New York Giants begin the defence of their title at home to the Dallas Cowboys.
The National Football League is comprised of two Conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each of the two conferences has 16 teams, divided into four divisions of four teams, North, South, East and West.
Never mind that the Dallas Cowboys play in the East despite being further west than teams from the ‘West’ , or that the Indianapolis Colts play in the South, despite…. well, you get the idea.
The Regular Season lasts for seventeen weeks, with each team playing 16 games with one bye week. At the end of the Regular Season, six teams from each Conference advance to the play-offs, including at least one team from each of the eight divisions.
These twelve teams play a single elimination knock-out tournament to produce two Conference champions who meet in the much anticipated, and well watched season climax, the Super Bowl.
This season’s game is SuperBowl XLVII and is scheduled to be played in New Orleans on February 3rd,2013. The game is always referred to by Roman numerals rather than by year,since it was thought that referring to the game as Super Bowl 2013 would be confusing, since it is for the 2012 season, and additionally it was suggested that Roman numerals added some ‘gravitas’ to the game.
The Super Bowl winner is then touted across the United States as being the ‘World’ champions – which, given that all 32 teams are US based (although two play at least one game outside the US), seems a little ridiculous.
Be that as it may, the NFL is a sport with a relatively short season, mostly competitive teams, and games that are broadcast in the UK are highly liquid if trading is your preference. For punters, there are a number of web sites all offering statistics in several categories and details on changes in price.
Once set, the line for NFL games tends not to move dramatically, mostly by one point or less, but when a significant movement does occur, it’s worth looking at why.
Two main reasons are that the line-setting Las Vegas casinos initially erred in their opinion of what the public would think, and have seen the majority of money coming in on one team and have had to adjust the price to even up the flow of money, or there may be injury updates during the week to key players. Insiders may get this information ahead of the odds makers, but unless you have friends on the medical staff of teams, your chances of gaining an edge here are slim.
Andrew, from this site, wrote an excellent piece last July on what pre-game line movements can mean for bettors, and his research on where the value lies is well worth a read.
Trading On The NFL
My personal preference for this sport is for trading. Every season, there are several 1.01s turned over, as the game has a way of turning a ‘certain’ winner into a stunned last-second loser.
In common with many sports, the basic idea of the game is relatively simple, but the NFL rule book is long and often complex, and with ‘instant replay' reviews and coaches challenges, a seemingly advantageous play can be turned on its head and the advantage swing back to the other side.
Laying low is a low risk strategy that seems ideally suited to the NFL, where one play can have a dramatic effect on the price.
Key Game Changers
Possession is a very important part of the game, and so an interception by the opponent will see a significant movement in price, but it is not that rare to see the interception be disallowed due to an infraction by a player who may well have been several yards away from the action. Keep an eye out for a yellow flag flying in from off-camera, signifying an official has seen an infringement.
Another play to be wary of is the long pass downfield, which is dropped by the intended receiver often under pressure from a defender. It’s a subjective call as to whether the defender was making a fair play, or was fouling, (defensive pass interference), and the penalty for a called foul is severe – usually the game resumes at the spot of the foul.
Personal fouls are also punished severely. These are fouls related to causing danger to a player, for example grabbing a player’s face mask, or the ‘horse-collar’ tackle, and carry 15yard penalties.
Roughing the kicker is another game changing foul to watch out for. When a team has failed to advance the ball in three plays, they usually elect to punt. The kicker gets the ball away, but is hit after the fact, and the penalty is 15 yards and a first down for the punting team.
Third downs are key too,and a converted third and long play can change the odds significantly.
In summary, watch for situations where the price has been driven too low. The market will react to the ‘apparent’ play, but what you see and what you get are many times not the same. Expect the unexpected. A field goal attempt to win a game with seconds left on the clock might appear to have won the game, with 1.01 matched, but a few seasons ago, coaches would call a time-out just before the kick was taken,and the kick would have to be re-taken.
The NFL is also a sport where you need to be following the game situation. Teams will adopt a different strategy early on in a game, to how they play late in a half. ‘Fourth down territory’ means that a team will not punt on a fourth down, but will use that down in an attempt to gain a new set of downs. If a team is down by four with time running out, a field goal or a punt is of no use to them, and they will not kick the field goal just to cover the spread!
Time-outs are also an important part of the game, since they can be used late in games to stop the clock and aid the chances of regaining possession. A team out of time-outs late in a game is at a disadvantage.
Deputy Officials 2012
One thing to note for the new season is that replacement officials have been assigned the opening round of matches, as the regular NFL officials are involved in a labor dispute. While I wouldn’t expect to notice too much difference, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the replacements are less experienced and that there may be a dubious decision or two made somewhere.
Laying The Scoring Team
There’s also a strategy I use which is to lay the team that has just scored a touchdown. The theory is that greed drives the price too low, and if you can lay at, or close to, the low, you can usually back it at a couple of ticks higher, even before the ensuing kick-off. It’s as if the market has buyer’s remorse, collectively reconsiders,and then decides that discretion is the better part of valour, and trades out. If you have confidence in the conceding team’s ability to make a first down or more, then you can lock in even more ticks.
Finally, here is an opening round statistical oddity that may be of interest to some readers. Of the last12 Super Bowl losers, none have covered the spread in their opening game of the following season.
Last season’s losers were the New England Patriots, who open at the Tennessee Titans on 9th September,and are favoured by 6.5. The Titans have an inexperienced quarterback and are missing a key receiver due to suspension, so the experienced Patriots, joint favourites to win it all in February (with the Green Bay Packers), will fancy their chances of ending this particular streak.
You can follow Cassini on Twitter @calciocassini
And visit Cassini's blog : GreenAllOver.blogspot
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