The week between the end of the NFL regular season and the start of the playoffs is an important one for bettors. Those who are serious about having a successful betting experience in the playoffs can do a few things during this time to give themselves a better chance at success. Here are five things football handicappers can do during this week to be ready:
Discard your biases – Inevitably during the regular NFL season you will have built up some biases about teams. You’ll respect teams that are really good, ad disrespect teams that are inconsistent or frustrating to you. Because of those biases you’ll likely have strong reactions to the matchups in the playoffs – a sense about how they will turn out before you even look closely at the game. As much as is possible you need to discard those biases heading into the playoffs – to empty your mind so you can start fresh. Time and again we have seen in the playoffs that the best teams don’t always go all the way, and that a surprising team can make an unexpected run if their timing is sound. In many of those cases the surprising performances weren’t so surprising if you had objectively looked at what the football team had to offer, but you’d be likely to overlook that evidence if you acted on your biases.
Don’t look beyond the current round – The NFL playoffs are a path to the Super Bowl, and the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event on the planet, so it’s no surprise that the big game has a magnetic pull on bettors and sports fans – it’s all anyone wants to think about. If you want to be successful in the playoffs, though, you need to follow the same advice that every coach gives their team – don’t look past the current game. The more football bettors focus on the games that are in the future, the less they will be focused on the game at hand, and the better the chances therefore that they will let something pass them by.
Reset your bankroll – The NFL playoffs are different from the regular season in many ways, so it only makes sense that you treat the two differently for your bankroll. After the regular season ends it’s a very good idea to start from. It’s a good time to take some profit out if you want to, and to re-assess our goals and the best bet size to reach those goals. Some people like to increase their bet size in the playoffs to compensate for the fewer games. That’s unquestionably more risk, but it could also be more reward, and the added risk can be balanced by the fact that we have had a lot of firsthand experience watching what these teams have to offer, and that we have a lot of time to handicap each of these playoffs games – more than normal – because there are so few games each weekend.
Remember to be choosy – There are no more than four playoff games in a week in the NFL – and obviously less than that in the last two weeks of the playoffs. During the regular season there are as many as 16 games in a week, so bettors are comfortable with the idea that you should only pick the best betting opportunities to bet on and leave the others alone. It takes a whole lot more self-discipline to pass on a game when there are only four to choose from than when there are 16, but it’s just as important – probably even more so – to be able to do so. If you bet on every playoff game then you will inevitably make bets that you aren’t entirely comfortable with, and you’ll be making bets that don’t give you an acceptable edge as a result. It could be that every game sets up well for you to bet them, but you shouldn’t be committed to making those bets unless they truly make sense.
Value matchups over all else – In the regular season there are so many factors that go into handicapping a football game. How well do teams travel? How do the coaches stack up? What’s the health of the rosters? Where is the momentum? Those things just aren’t as important in the playoffs. The stakes are as high as they can possibly be in the playoffs, so many of those factors just aren’t a significant factor in the playoffs. Aches and pains will be forgotten. Travel doesn’t feel nearly as grueling. Every team is just one loss from the end of their season, so momentum isn’t significant. What matters far and away more than anything else in the playoffs are the matchups – but the one on one matchups of players, and the unit-to-unit matchups between teams. If as a football handicapper you focused on nothing other than these matchups you would be in much better shape during the playoffs than you would during the regular season.