The first two weeks of the college football season offer the avid bettor a great opportunity to beat the bookies. Sportsbook managers have openly stated their concern about getting beaten badly in the first couple of weeks of college football. Some offer lower limits in college football to start the season and even restrict different types of wagers. The reason why is that they don’t have any statistics they can plug into their computer systems that produces the sharp lines we are all used to.
Therefore, if you do your homework by out studying the bookies, there are profits to be made in weeks one and two of the college football season.
Since the sportsbooks have to put up numbers for over 50 games each week, they are bound to make mistakes when there is no statistical data to rely on. You as a bettor don’t have to spend hours researching every game. You can pick your spots and focus on what teams and conferences you know best. I’ve heard sports book managers say that some of the lines they put up at the beginning of the season are mere guesses. That gives the gambler an advantage if we spend our time wisely studying a few games instead of the entire board. We can harness our focus on teams that we know better than the books. Some people are betting experts in certain conferences and know the teams inside and out. By becoming an expert on a handful of teams, you can really use that knowledge to beat the book.
If you find a discrepancy in a line that you think is off, do your homework by utilizing as much pre-season material and statistics from last year as you can. Read local newspapers on the internet to find out how a team has looked in fall camp, examine injury reports, and make your own projections on what a line should be. When you find that you have an advantage over the book on a particular line, exploit it. The biggest thing is that we can spend hours on a handful of games to make our wagers but the books have to put out a number on every game. If we focus on just the games that look to have a bad line, we give ourselves an advantage over the sportsbooks because they don’t have the time either to research every game for hours on end. The major point to remember is that early season college football wagering can be profitable if you study the games and teams properly to find value.
See Week 1 College Football Expert Picks
Archives for August 2009
Two teams expected not to have a prayer at making the playoffs in the NFC are the Detroit Lions and the St. Louis Rams. However, the numbers listed are so heavy in juice that they are not enticing me to lay down a huge bet. The Lions by far are the team least likely to make the playoffs in the eyes of the odds makers as they have been listed as lofty favorites to miss the post season at a whopping -1200. St. Louis is second in the running for least likely to make the playoffs, however the line is just -600.
These two teams are complete disasters. The Lions drafted Matthew Stafford but in no way is he going to be able to turn the Lions from an 0-16 team to a playoff contender in his first year. The Lions do have some dynamic skill position players in Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith has showed signs of being a solid NFL running back. However, the offensive line is not very good which will make it difficult for a rookie QB to be successful. On the other side of the ball, the defense isn’t very good either. All in all, there is no way this team is going to the post season.
St. Louis has lacked consistency out of Marc Bulger and he will have to play better for this team to be any good at all. They lost Torry Holt to free agency and Steven Jackson will be the focus of the offense. Steve Spagnolo is a great coach and he should improve this team on the defensive side of the ball as they drafted some nice defensive players that could help right away. However, they are also a long ways away from going to the playoffs.
There are some solid NFL prop bets out there with much lower juice than the two aforementioned teams above. I think Seattle -175 is a solid bet as I don’t think they are ready to make a quantum leap into the playoffs. They will be better but Arizona is no doubt going to win that division and Seattle is simply not good enough to compete for the wild card. The 49ers at -200 are another solid bet at a reduced price. This team improved as the year went along but still have huge question marks at the quarterback position with no solidified number one starter.
Another team listed at -250 that I think won’t make the playoffs is the Washington Redskins. The Redskins will have six games against very good teams in the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants. Jason Campbell has yet to prove himself as a quality quarterback and Clinton Portis, the focal point of the offense is getting up there in age. Finally, no way will the Tampa Bay Bucs make a push in the NFC South toward the playoffs. They too have huge quarterback issues. The addition of running back Derrick Ward should help but they simply don’t have enough talent to make a run especially in a tough division. The Bucs have been listed at -450.
Michigan State: Over 8 Wins +130 , Under 8 Wins -170
– Michigan State is listed at +10000 to win the BCS Championship. That means a $100 bet pays out $10,000!
Mark Dantonio is entering his third year as head coach at Michigan State and he may just have his best team yet. The Spartans return fifteen starters, seven on offense and 8 on defense. After finishing 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, this team has to feel confident with the experience coming back. The bad news however is the Spartans did lose their stud running back Javon Ringer and they enter fall camp with two guys fighting over the quarterback position. The losses at the running back and quarterback position could make it difficult for the Spartans to contend for the Big Ten title.
Defensively four of the front seven is back and I expect this team to be much better against the run this season. The linebackers have a ton of athleticism and speed and will make plays from sideline to sideline. In the secondary, Michigan State lost All-Conference safety Otis Wiley but EIGHT players return with starting experience. With all that experience coming back, they should be better against the pass as well. This should be a good team but I don’t expect them to be great. They have a tough road game at Notre Dame who should be improved but are lucky to get Iowa and Penn State at home. I’m torn on my decision to go over or under on this Michigan State team as I have them projected to win at least 8 games. It will come down to whether or not they can beat Illinois on the road for them to get to 9 wins. I expect the Illini to be much better than a year ago so I will call for a push on the Spartans and project them to go 8-4 in the regular season.
BetUs.com has released odds on who will miss the playoffs in the AFC for 2009. The heavy favorite to not make the post season is the Oakland Raiders listed at -700. You can’t really argue with the odds makers’ decision to post this particular number as the Raiders are a complete mess. They don’t have a quarterback for one thing. JaMarcus Russell has been god awful since being the number one overall pick a few years back and Jeff Garcia isn’t the answer either as his best years are behind him. The offensive line is also a major weakness which will make it difficult for Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas to run the ball effectively and the defense isn’t great either. The Oakland Raiders are a lock to not make the playoffs, that’s for certain.
The other teams rounding out the bottom of the list are the Cleveland Browns (-600), Cincinnati Bengals (-450), and the Kansas City Chiefs (-450). The Cleveland Browns much like the Raiders aren’t sold on their quarterback situation as well. As the old adage goes if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one. Derek Anderson’s production dropped dramatically from his 2007 numbers and Brady Quinn hasn’t proved he can cut it at the pro level. Jamal Lewis is showing major signs of slowing down so points will be hard to come by for the Browns. When you factor in the division they play in that includes Pittsburgh and Baltimore, I can’t see this team being any threat to make the playoffs.
The one bottom team I would stay away from is the Kansas City Chiefs. I know they have been very poor in recent years but they have made some key moves in the off-season with their roster and Scott Pioli is a genius. Matt Cassell will immediately improve this team and Dwayne Bowe is a very good receiving threat for the new Chiefs QB. They also improved their defense through the draft. I do not think this is a playoff team but I would not risk the juice of -450 on this team to miss the playoffs as we all know anything could happen in the NFL.
One value pick that I would consider making is betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars to miss the playoffs at -225. David Garrard struggled mightily last year and needs to improve immensely for this team to be any sort of threat in the AFC South. They did make some improvements in the off-season and Maurice Jones Drew is an absolute stud but given the fact that they are in the same division as the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans, I don’t see them making a run at the post-season.
BetUs.com has posted some interesting NFL prop bets for who will make the playoffs in both the AFC and NFC. The odds makers seem pretty dead on with their projections as the top teams in the AFC are clearly head and shoulders above the rest. I think there are seven teams in the AFC who have a legitimate chance at grabbing the six playoff spots and the odds makers agree with my projections.
The New England Patriots are the heavy favorite to make the playoffs and seem to be a lock to make it to the post-season. They have been listed at -700 which doesn’t offer the bettor much value. With a healthy Tom Brady, I don’t see anyone out of the AFC East really challenging the Patriots. The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills are simply not talented enough to beat out this Patriot squad. I actually believe this one of the weakest divisions in the NFL so you can be assured, the Patriots will win the division and grab a post season berth.
The Pittsburgh Steelers has been listed at -400 to make it to the playoffs, which is a better value bet than New England. The Steelers return all but two starters from the same team that won it all a year ago. Baltimore is the only real threat in their division but I believe they will be able to oust the Ravens and take home the division. The defense is nasty and Big Ben is a flat out winner. I can’t see this team not making the playoffs.
Another team that seems to be assured of a playoff spot is the San Diego Chargers who are listed at -600. They are far and away the best team in their division which contains the lowly Raiders, Chiefs, and a Bronco team who will sorely miss Jay Cutler. The final three spots are up for grabs but I have targeted four teams that have a solid chance at making the playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans will battle it out for the AFC South Division title so you can be rest assured that one of them will make the playoffs, if not both.
I also like the Baltimore Ravens to grasp one of the wild card spots. Joe Flacco is only going to get better and the defense should still be solid. One other team to keep an eye on that offers good value is the Houston Texans who are listed at +135. They are loaded at the skill positions with Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson. If the defense improves and Matt Schaub can show consistency, this could be a surprise team in the AFC.
Rot# Odds To Reach NFL Playoffs:
5001 Pittsburgh Steelers -400
5002 New England Patriots -700
5003 Dallas Cowboys -120
5004 New York Giants -175
5005 Indianapolis Colts -190
5006 San Diego Chargers -600
5007 Baltimore Ravens -150
5008 Philadelphia Eagles -175
5009 New Orleans Saints Ev
5010 Minnesota Vikings -165
5011 Carolina Panthers +110
5012 Tennessee Titans -120
5013 Atlanta Falcons +110
5014 Green Bay Packers +110
5015 Denver Broncos +250
5016 Jacksonville Jaguars +160
5017 Arizona Cardinals -120
5018 New York Jets +250
5019 Miami Dolphins +275
5020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +300
5021 Buffalo Bills +275
5022 Chicago Bears -120
5023 Washington Redskins +175
5024 Seattle Seahawks +125
5025 Houston Texans +135
5026 San Francisco 49ers +150
5027 Cleveland Browns +350
5028 Oakland Raiders +400
5029 Cincinnati Bengals +300
5030 St Louis Rams +350
5031 Detroit Lions +600
5032 Kansas City Chiefs +300