When it comes to handicapping football special teams certainly don’t get the same amount of attention from most bettors that offense or defense do. There’s a simple explanation for that – special teams just aren’t sexy. The best players don’t play special teams, and most fans just don’t really care about them – unless someone is breaking a big return for a touchdown. Smart sports bettors know, though, that spending some time looking at special teams can turn into profits down the line. When you are considering how you are going to work special teams into your football handicapping here are six things for you to consider:
Compare special teams to ATS performance – Your goal with any sports handicapping is to find situations that are profitable over the long term. it only makes sense, then, to compare different aspects of special teams performance to historical performance of teams against the spread. Do teams that kick more field goals cover more spreads? Is field goal percentage or the number of field goals attempted matter more? How important is net punting average to ATS performance? The more creative you can be and the more you can test the more effective you are ultimately going to be when it comes to handicapping special teams.
Special teams are more important when the lines are smaller – This one is an important point to keep in mind. Special teams most regularly contribute three points to the total thanks to field goals. Field goals are more significant in the outcome of games when the spread is only 2.5 points than it would be if the spread was 12.5 points. The more significant a few points will be to the outcome of the football game the more effort you should put into analyzing the comparative effectiveness of the special teams.
Special teams are more important when the total is lower – When the total is lower than the teams are obviously expected to score fewer points. That means that each point is more significant, so there is a much better chance that a single field goal could have a big impact on the outcome than there is if the total is high and the game is likely to be a shootout or a lopsided high scoring contest. That doesn’t mean that special teams aren’t significant when the total is huge – it just isn’t as important.
Offensive efficiency is key – When it comes to evaluating the significance of the strength of a teams punting you need to really think about how effectively the opposing offense can move the ball. Look at it this way – the more effectively and efficiently an offense can move the football the more confidence you will have in them and the less concerned you will be about where they start their drive. Put another way, the less consistent and effective – or explosive – and offense is, the more you have to be concerned about starting field position.
Some teams kick field goals, others don’t – Some football coaches like to kick field goals often. Others coaches kick them often because they have to. Some coaches just don’t kick them unless they absolutely have to – because they don’t trust their kicker, or because they like to be aggressive. The less a coach tends to rely on field goals, the less you need to be concerned about what their field goal percentage is, what the effective range of the kickers are, and whether they are affected by the weather.
Think net, not gross – A lot of casual bettors will get seduced by punters with huge legs – the guys who send each punt into orbit and seemingly measure their hang time in minutes. the truth is, tough, that by itself that means absolutely nothing. A huge punter is wasted if his team is incapable of stopping the return, while a short punt can work just fine if the kick coverage is strong. Instead of looking at the gross punting distance – which is what commentators will often dwell on when you watch games – when handicapping football games spend your time looking at net punting performance. It’s like golf – it doesn’t matter if a guy can drive it a mile if he can’t chip or putt.