2005 NFL Playoffs Betting ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
|Handicapping the NFL Post Season
By Tony George of www.sportsaudioshows.com
The NFL Playoffs are a different animal to handicap,not too far off from the College Bowl Games actually, as the 3big intangibles are; special teams, turnovers and field position.One has to take a look at season long indicators with both teamsinvolved in a game to see what the ratio’s are in terms of theseintangible items. While you can never predict an intangible item,you can look at tendencies of a team over a season to somewhatget a handle on what you are dealing with when looking at a gamefor pointspread opportunity. Penalties in the game that affectmomentum are also a huge factor in the NFL, both in the regularseason and post season. That is a tangible item that can be researched.
It simply boils down to man to man match-upsin the trenches and at WR and DB match-ups. Almost every teamwithout exception, has a good running back and good QB who reachesthis point in the season. The AFC looks to be the stronger conferenceby far, and provides much more parity in terms of match-ups thisyear. One also must remember that ANY team in the NFL Playoffs,regardless of how they managed to get in, is a good football team.
I also have to look at the health of a team ingeneral. Many players are dealing with the effects of a seasonlong torture test of endurance, and there are those select fewplayers that have been around the block that will play throughthose bumps and bruises, and there are others that will not. Ican assure you that no one player in the NFL is 100% right now,and the teams with an extra week that have first round byes, areat a clear advantage in terms of preparation and health, and thatfact is strongly considered a huge plus when looking at games.As you might imagine, teams who struggle in a 4 quarter war inround 1 of the playoffs, that have to travel and play a well restedteam are clearly at a huge disadvantage as well in terms of health,morale and overall condition. Although one must take note thatI have seen Vegas oddsmakers over the years over compensate withlines in this scenario, it boils down to good teams beating badteams based on a few simplistic items of fundamental handicapping.
I am not a big trend player in the NFL Playoffs,although some seem to hold some water, but the bottom line isthat most teams play to their potential and these playoff gameshave to be looked at on a situational basis. You can look at seasonlong stats all you want, but I look at the last 3 games played,throwing out Week 16, as many teams played reserves like the Colts,Eagles, Steelers and Patriots for example, so their last 3 gamestats are skewed to a degree, so I throw out Week 16 in thosescenario’s. Teams like the Rams, Vikings, Jets and a few othersplayed to their potential (sad as that sounds since 2 of theseexample teams lost SU), so you have to adjust and bring in Week16 numbers to look at when handicapping games they are involvedin.
Finally I would be remised if I left out coachingand experience. Coaching is a KEY in the playoffs, especiallywith guys that have been down this road before as either a headcoach or a head coordinator. I consider this a 3 point advantagein most games and anyone worth their salt will tell you a headcoach making big time calls with the game on the line counts bigtime! I look at the roster of coaches and find that Mike Martzfor the Rams is a very dangerous guy to bank on. Some call hima River Boat gambler, I call him the worst head coach in the Playoffsby far, and he has proven time and time again that he is goodfor one colossal blunder to cost him team the game or shift momentumagainst him with bonehead calls and special teams risks he doesnot need to take, and I am not so sure how hard his guys playfor him during the course of the game when he does this. Thatis just one example. Experience of players in playoff games isalso worth leveraging into your handicapping. Pittsburgh is agood example, as their phenom QB has yet to ever taste a playofflevel game, and although he has led his team to a 15-1 record,beat the Pats and Eagles, it is a whole new ballgame when everyplay you make or throw away will cost you the Super Bowl, it ispressure that many young guys have never felt and it will factorin certain scenario’s with young teams, versus teams with numerousplayoff veterans.
As you can see, it is never an easy road to havesuccess handicapping the NFL Playoffs, but I have managed a 68%ATS win rate since 1996 with a 55-25 record against the Las VegasLine using many of the techniques I have laid out in this article.The NFC Playoff race is anybody’s ballgame, as you may want toconsider the fact that Philly went 0-2 to end the season and theirstarters have seen little action, so they are not a shoe-in likemany think. Home field in the AFC will be a key for the Steelers,but once again, do not think for a minute that they will not haveWorld War III on their hands with the teams that they will face,even at home It may very well be the best football of the NFLseason, which was to say the least unconventional this year, inthe next 2 weeks, and I assure the NFC and AFC Championship Gameswill be the best games played all year in the NFL, and most notablybetter than the Super Bowl, as last year’s Super Bowl Game willbe hard to top for the foreseeable future.