There are teams in the NFL that the public loves more than the rest. They may have a lot of history, considerable success, or star players that draw the attention and capture the imagination of the public. Those are called public teams, and the public will blindly support them at pretty much any price. Those teams will draw high expectations every year, and they will be expected to do well. Often times they do get off to a strong start – the public likes them because they are good, after all – but sometimes the teams can’t live up to the almost impossible hype and they get off to a really bad start, or at least one that is disappointing compared to the expectations.
When a public team gets off to such a bad start it can create a headache for bettors trying to make the most of NFL odds. You have to determine why they have struggled, whether they will continue, and if and where there is value in betting on their games. You have to do all that while dealing with the intense media coverage and public panic that will inevitably go with the situation. When trying to figure out what to do with these teams here are five factors to consider before placing your NFL football bets:
Are they bad, or just unlucky? – It’s very important to get an accurate sense of how the team is really playing – not how the public or the media is perceiving them. Have they been playing really bad overall football – poor execution and worse attitudes – or are they playing fairly well but just not having the luck or the breaks go their way? Have they been losing by a wide margin, or are they just barely falling short? Have they had particular problems on one side of the ball, or has their performance been reasonably consistent?
Who have they played? – The schedule means everything when looking at these teams. If they have opened against weak opponents and have struggled then there could be a real cause for concern. If they have played a tough schedule – playoff caliber teams and road games – then it might not be as much as a concern because the schedule will likely ease up sooner or later. A tough schedule can make a decent schedule look poor, while a weak schedule can make a poor team look decent.
Are there obvious excuses? – Sometimes there will be an obvious reason for the early struggles – or at least a reason that is obvious if you take the time to look past the hype and surface stories and look at what is going on on the field. Have they added new players in key positions that have not yet adapted? Has a key but not high profile player been missing because of injury or been playing hurt? Has a significant change in scheme or philosophy happened that has taken some time to work properly? If you can identify an obvious excuse for the struggles to date then you can have a better sense of whether those struggles are likely to continue. Once the excuses are no longer present you might reasonably expect the results to be different.
Why was the public so high on them? – Sometimes the public just doesn’t make the best decisions. They fall in love with teams because the star player sells nice shoes, or because the offense is explosive, or because the team is always good. They almost never do more involved, more perceptive analysis. Many times the public is right to be optimistic about a team, but that isn’t always the case. It’s important that you have a sense of why the public was so high on the team in the first place so you can evaluate if they should have been, and whether the love affair is likely to continue or end.
What is the public sentiment now? – Has the public remained loyal to the team despite their struggles, or have they turned against the team? Sometimes it only takes one or two bad teams for the public to go from the biggest fans of the team to bitter foes. The public can be especially fickle about a team if the star player has played very poorly early on. If the public has turned against a team then you might be able to find very attractive value if you think the squad isn’t destined to continue struggling like they have. If the public is still supporting the team despite the struggles, though, then you need to be really careful to be sure you aren’t betting on inflated lines.