Beat the Bookies

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BEAT THE NFL BOOKIES

by Jay Beezee

(PRWEB) August 10, 2004 — Take a breather. Thedog days of summer have come and gone.

Thermometers might disagree, but sports bettorsshould be notified that the best action of the summer is fastapproaching.

Bettors typically grow tired of Major League Baseball’sregular season monotony by the end of July. Then, like a coolsea breeze, the NFL blesses bored bettors with a breath of freshair.

NFL training camps opened for the season on July27. Over the following two weeks, teams begin a grueling scheduleof curfews, diets, and two-a-days to get in shape for the upcomingseason. In the following month, all 32 NFL teams will work towardmaking the playoffs.

The NFL begins its pre-season this week. Thistime of year is without question the best kept secret in sportsbookwagering.

Most NFL fans know that very little can be learnedfrom pre-season games. The main purpose for the scrimmage-stylecontests is for coaches to make starting lineup evaluations. Lastyear’s starters are only on the field for a few plays, mainlyto avoid getting rusty for the pending season. While they seetheir only bench time of the season, reserve players and rookiesget the majority of snaps, hoping that their performance willearn them a roster spot.

For the first (and only) time of the NFL season,line makers have no advantage. They are creating lines blindly,forced to set the spread as if the games are regular-season contests.

The reason they are in this situation is simple.No consideration can be made on their part for how reserve playersand rookies play. How can bookies create an accurate line whenplayers they haven’t seen play are taking the snaps?

Example. When the St. Louis Rams play the KansasCity Chiefs on August 23, the spread and over/under will be setassuming that KC’s defense (one of the five WORST in 2003)is lining up for each snap against St. Louis’ high flyingpassing attack, which ranked third in 2003.

The spread for this contest could favor St. Louis(for this example, we’ll say it does). The Rams’ three-headedoffensive monster (quarterback Marc Bulger; receivers Isaac Bruceand Torry Holt) likely will not play past halftime. Also, KC’sone-man offensive machine, running back Priest Holmes, shouldsee more bench than turf. These two events make the game wideopen. Your guess about the outcome is as good as the bookies.

The second half should see the field full of unprovenplayers. Who knows where the game will go from there? Will itbe a low-scoring contest, or a barnburner? No one can be totallysure. This comes as great news for bettors, and bad news for bookies.

“The NFL pre-season is easily the most unpredictabletime for offshore sportsbooks,” said Anthony Wayne, marketingdirector for EWINNER.com (http://www.ewinner.com). “Veryoften, the field is full of players who have similar skills. Withoutbig game playmakers on the field, how are line makers supposedto know who the favorite will be?”

Following below are several pre-season contestswhich could prove to be very beneficial to the sports bettor.Strike while the iron is hot. (All spread statistics courtesyof Gold Sheet):

New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, 8/19, 8pmon FOX: New York finished a dismal 4-12 last year, and failedto cover the spread in their final eight games However, they havereloaded by acquiring quarterback Kurt Warner as a mentor to rookiequarterback Eli Manning, and have a new coach, former Jaguarsleader Tom Coughlin. Coughlin is a pre-season safe bet, with a16-8-1 exhibition record against the spread.

With the exception of their offensive line, Carolina has maintainedmost of the lineup which won the NFC championship last season.The Panthers have covered the spread in their last five pre-seasoncontests, but four of them were as the underdog. During the 2003regular season, they went 3-9 when favored.

Bet on: Coughlin and his G-men, especially if Carolina is favored.

Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens, 8/12, 8pmon ESPN: After an off-season of drastic changes, Atlanta has nothingto do but improve after finishing 2003 with the league’sworst defense. New coach Jim Mora, Jr. is going to put some youthin their booth, and with Michael Vick healthy, 2004’s Falconsshould play more like 2002’s playoff team. During Vick’sfirst two seasons, Atlanta was 7-1 during exhibition season; lastseason, they went 0-4 (Vick broke his leg in Atlanta’s secondpre-season game).

Baltimore should be the beast of the AFC North this year, as wellas a contender for the Super Bowl from week one. Quarterback KyleBoller will be a year learned, and their top rushing offense (thanksto marathon HB Jamal Lewis), will be complimented by newly acquiredwideout Kevin Johnson. This team should improve on last season’s10-6 record, as their storied defense remains one of the NFL’sfiercest. Head Coach Brian Billick is 11-4 career in exhibitiongames against the spread, and is 6-2 as the underdog. Last year,the Ravens only went 1-3.

Bet on: Atlanta if Vick is healthy. Keep an eye on Baltimore,especially if they are the underdog.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles, 8/26,8pm on ESPN: Pittsburgh has a lot to recover from after last season;mainly injuries. Their offense was only imposing on paper, thanksto injuries on the offensive line and a lack of carries for “TheBus” (Jerome Bettis), who only averaged 3.3 yards per touch.Head coach Bill Cowher has turned into a perennial pre-seasonchoke artist. Last year, his team was 0-4 heading into the regularseason, and they have had trouble covering the spread in pastseasons as well (0-4 the last two seasons at home versus the spread).

Philadelphia is once again the favorite to go to the Super Bowlin the NFC. They addressed their two most pending needs in theoff-season, adding wideout Terrell Owens and defensive end JevonKearse. The Eagles also have a tendency to choke. Unfortunately,the pre-season is no different. For his career, coach Andy Reidis 2-7 in exhibitions when favored at home.

Bet on: Philly. These games don’t count. They’re lesslikely to blow it.

Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys, 8/30, 8pmon ABC: The Titans cut a lot of salary (and talent) in the off-season,but they will still find a way to compete for the playoffs thanksto ironman QB Steve McNair. Tennessee’s 13 draft picks willsee a ton of snaps before the season starts, as this team attemptsto gel into a solid unit. A virtual lock in exhibitions, the Titanscovered all four games last pre-season against the spread, andover the last four schedules are 7-1 in away exhibitions. As anunderdog, they are more of a sure bet, a perfect 6-0.

Eddie George, a Titan as late as July, now runs for Dallas. Georgeshould carry a large chip on his shoulder after being one of Tennessee’ssalary cap casualties. The 2004 Cowboys will also feature wideoutKeyshawn Johnson, and rookie QB/retired minor league baseballplayer Drew Henson. Henson is going to see quite a lot of snapsin exhibitions to get rid of his diamond rust. Dallas was 10-6last season, which is Bill Parcell’s best first season recordas a head coach. However, quality opponents (teams with a winningrecord) went 4-2 against them last season, 3-1 against the spread.

Bet on: Titans. With their record in the pre-season, and Dallas’tendency to lose to good teams, this should be a sure win.

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