I like adrenaline as much as the next guy – a good rush is almost always a good thing. If I’m in need of an adrenaline fix, though, I’d rather going skiing or watch a scary movie or something. What I don’t want to do is to get a boost of adrenaline from sweating out the close final seconds of a NFL or college football game that I have bet on to see if I am going to get the win or not. As far as I am concerned I would love to bet only blowouts – games that are basically over by the half. I’ll leave the close games to the ones I am watching for fun. Blowouts aren’t always very predictable. They certainly aren’t as predictable as the betting public thinks they are when a very good team meets a pretty bad one. If you put some work into it, though, you can be on the right side of more than your share of blowouts. Here are five things for football handicappers to keep in mind to help you out in your search for the blessed blowout:
Coaches new to the team – Football coaches in their first or second year with teams have traditionally been involved in a disproportionate number of blowouts – both as the team being blown out or the team doing the blowing out. In round numbers, about 40 percent of coaches are in their first two years with a team, but nearly 60 percent of blowouts games involve at least one such coach. To understand why you just have to think about why a team makes a coaching change. Most often it’s because the football team is a mess. The new coach brings in new systems and approaches and often has to deal with less than ideal talent. The transition usually isn’t smooth, and a blowout loss is a distinct possibility. In fewer cases a new coach is brought in because a team is very good but the old coach wasn’t getting the most out of them. In those cases the new face can often make small tweaks that deliver big results, and blowout wins can be the result. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you should assume that any game with a new coach is going to end in a blowout. What it does mean, though, is that if you are already feeling like a game might not be close then the presence of some new blood could be extra incentive to bet the football game.
Teams not afraid of being blown out – It seems counter-intuitive, but a team that doesn’t fear getting blown out is more likely to be blown out than one that is paranoid about being humiliated. If a football team is a heavy underdog who seems to be in rough shape heading into a game then there is a lot they can do to keep the game closer – play a more passive form of offense that limits big gains, or keep the ball on the ground to keep it out of the hands of the opposing QB, for example. A team which is heavily favored and seems headed for a big game is also not going to be as hungry and motivated as they might otherwise be because they know that they can probably win even if they perform at far less than full effort.
True motivation – Public bettors spend a lot of time talking about motivation in games and the impact it could have on the outcome of the game. While motivation can be a big factor, it’s often not nearly as significant as the public thinks it is. For example, the public will often think that a team is going to be fired up playing a weaker rival. That’s not always true – players don’t care about geographical rivals nearly as much as fans do, so it’s not always a big motivation factor. On the other hand, football teams are going to be truly motivated if a game can allow them to clinch a playoff spot, or secure home field, or something tangible and important like that. A blowout is far more likely to happen if a good team is truly motivated, so analyzing the true motivation is time well spent by the handicapper.
Team tendencies – Over the course of a football season it’s not uncommon to see some teams being involved in several blowouts. The factors that can contribute to blowouts aren’t ones that quickly disappear, so a team that has been involved in blowouts a couple of times in a season already are more likely to be involved in more than one that has consistently played close games.
Turnover disparity – In order for a team to win in a blowout they need to have a lot of opportunities to score, and they need to limit the opportunities their opponents have. The best way to do that is turnovers. The more turnovers a team has in a game the more chances their offense has to score, and the fewer chances the opponent has to put points on the board. If a football game seems to be set up to have a solid disparity in turnovers then there is a better chance that the game will end up in a blowout than in a typical game. If you think this will happen after you do your handicapping take advantage of it.