For most NFL bettors football training camp just seems like something you have to patiently endure before the NFL season finally starts. For astute sports bettors, though, the training camp is a time to pick up all sorts of information and insights that can help you find a big edge with your NFL football picks early in the season. By paying attention to what is going on and how teams are operating sports bettors can get a good sense of how ready they will be when the games matter, and where they might be vulnerable. Here are seven questions to ask to help NFL handicappers get a sense of where the hidden betting opportunities might lie:
Who is quarterbacking with the first team? – In a lot of cases this won’t be interesting at all – obviously an established starter is going to play with the first team to get ready for the season. When there is more uncertainty surrounding a team, though, then this can be the best indicator there is of what a NFL team is thinking and who is likely to be starting under center when the season starts. Sometimes it will be obvious – one potential starter will get the majority of the snaps and will clearly be atop the depth chart. Where it is far more interesting – and potentially profitable – is when there is no clear leader and the public is left to speculate about what will happen. The ways snaps are shared can usually give a sense of what will happen before the public figures it out.
How are the star players carrying themselves? – There are very few NFL veterans who actually like training camp – especially those who have very secure jobs. They aren’t going to be bubbly and excited about the prospect of sweating in the hot sun as a result. Still, you can tell a lot about how a team looks and how they are feeling by how the star players are responding. Are they more talkative and loose than normal, or are they tense and absent? Do they seem like they are happy to be where they are, or does the environment of the team seem to be weighing them down? Do they seem to be on the same page as the coaching staff, or is there potentially going to be some problems? Do they seem hungry or complacent? The more you can play amateur psychologist and try to climb into the heads of the stars the better off you are going to be.
What is the media fixated on? – The media loves simple storylines, and once they find one for a team they will beat that storyline into submission. Sometimes those storylines are really important and significant, but more often they just sound a whole lot more important than they really are. Smart football bettors will look at the stories that have captured the attention of the bettors to see if they are really significant, if the public is likely to overreact to them, what effect the stories may have on the NFL odds – and to create value as a result.
Are there obvious distractions? – There are all sorts of reasons why a NFL team can be distracted heading into a season. A star player could be holding out for a better deal. A new draft pick could be missing camp because he hasn’t signed a deal. A coach could be on the hot seat. Discipline or legal issues could be hanging over a player like a cloud. A fierce battle for a starting spot could lead to tension and uncertainty. Smart bettors will identify what these distractions could be and then determine whether they are likely to be true distractions that really impact the teams, or if they are just the type of distractions that will seem more significant to the public than they are to the team.
How many new faces are there? How are they integrating? – Sports bettors need to keep an eye on the amount of turnover a roster has seen. How many starters from last year have been replaced? How many veteran free agents are taking their place? How many rookie or first time starters will there be? Are the new starters distinguishing themselves, or do they seem like just a default choice to start? Are the new starters in key positions, or are they in positions where they are less crucial from the start?
Are they banged up early? – Sometimes a football team will face horrible luck in the preseason – it will seem like every player is banged up or injured. Sometimes that is just bad luck. A large amount of injuries, though, can be an indication that the team’s offseason preparations were not all they could have been, and that could lead to further problems down the season.
Is the defense ahead of the offense? – The answer here – especially early in NFL training camp – should definitely be yes. Defense can rely on instincts far more than offense can, so the defense should be able to outshine the offense in early scrimmages – especially if the offense has any new personnel or is making any scheme changes. If the offense seems to be at the same level as the offense or even better early in training camp then it is time to take note. It could be that the offense is particularly good, but more likely it is a good sign that the defense is having some troubles and they have some serious work to do if they want to be competitive.