Last week I talked about maintaining balance within power ratings, and not over reacting by making rash adjustments that are not warranted. While this is something important to keep in mind throughout the season, it is becoming equally important to being paying attention to where things started, and where they are likely to end up.
The best way to illustrate the ideal mindset bettors need to begin developing at this time in the season is to compare weeks three, four and five of the NFL season to running into an open water lake and trying to swim to the other side. At first, there is a ton of excitement running down the beach and diving into the water. That initial excitement leads into a quick and frantic start until it wears off further and further into the water. Soon after beginning swimming, the shore behind disappears and there is a wait for the shore in-front to appear over the horizon. This is often followed by fatigue and a need to get to shore, fast. Often it seems like the last few breaths one can muster get spent trying to make it to a spot where one foot can finally be put down to touch the ground.
The beginning of the NFL season is like running on the beach and crashing into the water. There is a deep understanding of where each teams started and a rash of confidence from bettors was sent into the betting markets with the security of the starting point near. Week three, four and five of the NFL season is when the shore behind disappears and bettors are forced to become increasingly independent. As bettors get further and further away from the shore that was the beginning of the season they are forced to make quick decisions on the spot with no safety net to fall back on. The common beginning of the season handicapping situations (1-0 vs 0-1, teams avoiding 0-2, home openers etc.) are all used up. If strong power ratings are not established, bettors can quickly get lost and disorientated and begin making poor impulse betting decisions which take them off course. The bettors who will stay afloat financially are those who can maintain their pace, don’t panic in rough tides and take the most efficient route from start to finish with the big picture in mind.
Being submerged mentally in the body of water that is the NFL season can cause many bettors not just to make rash adjustments (as we saw last week) but can also cause bettors to get swept into waves of misconception in general. With so much focus and media coverage on each and every game, it can become difficult for bettors to keep their heads above the water and avoid drowning in the perception.
After four quarters of praise from Jon Gruden and the ESPN team on Monday Night, many bettors are now crowning Carson Wentz as the best young quarterback in the league. Nevermind that his success has come against the Browns and an injury riddled Bears defence. The quarterback dilemma which plagued the Broncos throughout the preseason is no longer a worry for most bettors and the defending Superbowl Champs are rated extremely high by most. The fact that both wins were unimpressive despite having a large home field advantage does not factor in.
Bettors swimming in the waters of the NFL season are also very quick to accept anything along the way to keep them afloat temporarily and often refuse to let go despite whatever the fact that whatever they are holding on to may be weighing them down.
There is no example better of this than the Oakland Raiders. Bettors were in love with Oakland at the beginning of the season and continue to back them an extremely high rate (more than $7 of every $10 bet this week is on Oakland at Tennessee). The fact that they have given up 500+ yards in their opening two games of a season is not enough to make bettors let go. Those hanging on long enough may soon sink to the bottom. The same can be said for Andrew Luck and the Colts. The constant unwarranted praise of Luck from sports media continues to cause bettors drifting through the season to swim off course and attempt to grab what appears to be a safety buoy floating in the distance.
All analogies aside, what I am trying to say is, everyone reading this knows where teams started two weeks ago, and everyone has a very good idea of where each team is going to finish at the end of the season. As the season continues, it is important to keep everything in line with the path the teams were set on and not divert their course based on perception. With each week that passes, it becomes easier and easier to become short sighted. Each week that goes by, the markets become stronger and bookmakers become more accurate. This can be used to the bettors advantage. Prices are rarely set based on what a team has done, especially over just a one or two-week sample. Prices almost always get set on what a team is worth. It is better to adjust ratings closer to the markets to keep them accurate, then to move them away to search for a reason to make a bet.
If bettors do not think and act this way, they do not have a chance to make it to the other side. If extra attention gets put into where a team started, and where they are supposed to finish, it is easy to connect the dots in between to keep power ratings accurate and make smart rational betting decisions.
Don’t get caught treading water in during the season grasping for anything within reach.
My ratings went 10-5-1 ATS in week one and 8-6-1 ATS in week two. Advantages greater than 3 points went 3-2 ATS in week one and 3-1 in week two. That leaves my ratings 18-11-2 ATS overall and advantages of more than 3 points 6-3 ATS entering Week 3. This week there are six teams with greater than a field goal advantage (New England, Minnesota, NY Giants, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Kansas City).