At any time in the NFL there are just a small handful of quarterbacks who are megastars – guys who are consistently excellent and who attract a whole lot of attention from the betting public every time they hit the football field. These are the four to six players in the league at any given time that are bigger than their teams, and are really the face of the NFL. It’s not hard to figure out who these players are, and if you aren’t sure if a guy qualifies then he doesn’t. These guys might seem like they are immortal, but from time to time their mortality becomes obvious and they are injured. Whenever that happens the betting public is going to panic like the world has ended. They are going to assume that the football team is doomed – especially if the player is out of action for a long time. Sometimes they are, but that’s not always true – the Patriots managed reasonably well when Tom Brady was lost for a season and Matt Cassel had to step in. If you can be reasonably confident that the team is going to be in better shape than the public thinks they will be then you could have some very nice value on your hands when making football bets. Here are five factors to consider when trying to determine and handicap the impact of an injury to a megastar quarterback:
How important is he to his team? – This might seem like it has an obvious answer, but it doesn’t always. The public will assume that the star quarterback is the heart and soul of the team and that the team is doomed without them. That isn’t always the case. Perhaps the quarterback isn’t performing as well now as his reputation suggests or as he used to. Or perhaps he has such a well designed offense around him that he looks good because of it and that system can can help another quarterback out as well. Sometimes the player just has a reputation that is inaccurate. Whatever the situation you need to be very sure of what the actual impact of a player is – not what the perceived impact is. The other factor to consider here is whether he is the leader of the team in the locker room as well. If he is the kingpin then his absence could be significant, but if he is just one of several strong leaders then the others can likely keep the team on track.
How viable is the backup? – Some football teams with megastar quarterbacks seem to get complacent and don’t invest resources in a backup quarterback because their starter is so good. It can be hard to draw a decent veteran because he knows he won’t likely get a chance to play, so they often are left with inexperienced and sometimes underwhelming players. The more issues the backup has the bigger the gap between the starter and the backup will be and the more challenged the team will be. On the other hand, if you think that the backup is a better, more prepared player than the general public is likely to then you could easily find nice value betting on him and his team.
How long will he be out? – If a megastar is only likely to be out for a game or two then it is a very different proposition than if he is going to miss the rest of the NFL season. If a player is only out for a short time then the players can easily adjust for his absence and the attitude of the team is likely to stay positive because they have a brighter future to look forward to. If he is out for a long time, though, then there is a far better chance that the football team can lose focus or confidence. There is also much more pressure on a backup stepping in for a whole season than one stepping in for a couple of weeks.
Has he missed time before? – The first time that a player of this magnitude is lost is absolutely terrifying to a NFL team – especially if he has gone a long time without being hurt. If he has been hurt before, though, then the team knows that they can survive without him, and they aren’t going to be as worried about it – especially if the backup is the same as before. By looking back at what happened last time you can also get a sense of what to expect and what is possible.
How will the public respond? – We’ve talked about this along the way, but I wanted to mention it as a separate point because it is really the most crucial thing here. You need to think about what is going to happen to the football team, but you have to do that within the context of how your perceptions relate to what the public thinks. If you have the same basic opinion that is being spread by the mainstream media then it might be hard to find value. If your opinion is far more – or far less – optimistic than the public, though, then you could be well positioned for betting success when playing the moneyline or the point spread.