Betting on the Pro Bowl isn’t the most popular thing in the NFL. There are lots of people that do it though. Lots of those people make big mistakes when they do it, and those mistakes limit their chances of making a long term profit on the game. Here are six of the biggest mistakes that people gambling on football make when betting on the Pro Bowl:
Dwelling too much on starters – The Pro Bowl starters get the most attention in the game because they got the most votes and probably had the best seasons – or at least the most popular and celebrated ones. The reality, though, is that it really doesn’t matter who the starters are. All of the players will play, and most of the backups will play as much or more as the starters. The only significance of the designation of starters from a betting perspective is that you know that they will all be playing at the start of the game. That means that the first quarter or so is the only time you can realistically look at matchups without having to make a whole lot of assumptions and guesses. Beyond that, though, starters mean dramatically less here than they do in every other football game that is played.
Ignoring the coaching staff – The coaching staff has the biggest impact on how the game is played and how the team is prepared. Some coaches really care bout this game and give it a full, intense effort. That carries over to the team and shows up on the field. Others treat it as merely an exhibition game and don’t ratchet up the intensity like they would in the regular season. Here are some questions for Pro Bowl bettors to ask. Has the coaching staff been in the game before? What happened then? Are they working with a lot of players they know? Will they easily command respect from their players? How did their own season end?
Not paying attention to roster changes – The roster that is announced when the Pro Bowl list is first announced bears very little resemblance to the final roster that takes the field on game day. The players that make the Super Bowl are out for starters. Then there are all the veterans who will claim they are injured to avoid giving up a week of vacation. There are the players who are legitimately hurt, too. You can’t handicap this game without looking at the final roster and really thinking about who is there, who will be excited about being there, and who is missing. You’ll also really want to watch the injury reports during the week, too. NFL coaches and players aren’t willing to risk any injury at all, so if a player is even remotely banged up he won’t see much action – if any at all.
Caring too much about the regular season strength of the conferences – It really doesn’t matter if the AFC was totally dominant this year or if the NFC had a rough year. That has no impact on what will happen when you take the best players from NFL teams and put them on the field in a totally meaningless game. The more you are blinded by anything that happened in the regular season, the less likely you are to make a good Pro Bowl bet.
Over-complicating your analysis – In the regular football season and the NFL playoffs you really have to work hard to find an edge, study the lines and make value-packed bets. That means that you need to really work hard to analyze the games in ways that are significant and meaningful. In the Pro Bowl that’s just not the case. You could analyze the game all you want, but so much of that analysis will be meaningful. Motivation is a huge factor in the Pro Bowl game. Players are playing for unfamiliar coaches with teammates they don’t know in schemes that aren’t their own. The crowd isn’t always very big or very vocal. Any significant analysis based on statistics from the regular season is likely to have all sorts of issues with it. Betting on the Pro Bowl is definitely a time when simpler is better.
Overextending yourself – Let’s be frank – the Pro Bowl is by far the worst football game played all year. The talent level is huge, but none of those players truly care about the game, and they aren’t playing in the system that made them successful. Pretty much every other game played all year potentially offers better betting opportunities than the Pro Bowl. I’m by no means suggesting you shouldn’t bet on the game if you want to – the reasons are your own. I’m just saying that as a serious football handicapper you probably shouldn’t bet on this in the same way and with the same amount as you would another game, and you certainly shouldn’t bet dramatically more. If you think you have a big edge on the Pro Bowl you are probably wrong.