It doesn’t necessarily happen every weekend in the NFL, but many times a year we’ll see a football team get out to a big halftime lead of at least two touchdowns and then collapse and throw it away in the second half. It’s almost as if they feel they have done their job to get that lead and that there is no way they could possibly lose that lead. The NFL team seems to either be thinking about their next game or the upcoming day off, and not about the game they are only halfway through.
Football teams that potentially could blow a lead at the half often leave clues to their potential struggles. NFL bettors who are able to spot these situations can be put in a very good position with their football gambling. They could profit nicely from second half bets, or they could save themselves some worry and stress if they bet on the team that is far behind.
When trying to evaluate whether a big halftime leader is secure or vulnerable here are five important questions for football handicappers to explore before making their NFL football picks:
What were your expectations coming in? – When you were handicapping the game before it started you likely had a sense of how you thought the game would play out. has it played out like that? If you are surprised by the first half blowout then it probably hasn’t. The key, then, is to look at how it has differed from expectations. Has the football team you expected to be better really been better, or have they struggled to exert themselves? Are the players who you thought would be able to shine able to do so, or are they struggling? The closer the way the game is being played matches your expectations the more likely it is that your expectations for the outcome of the game will come true. If nothing about the game is turning out like you expected then you need to look at why that is happening, whether it is likely to keep happening, and what it could mean for the second half.
Has the leader been closing strong? – There are some NFL teams that are very strong second half teams. Their coaching staff and players are able to identify issues at the half, find ways to address those issues, refocus on the task, and elevate their game down the stretch. They consistently build leads in the second half, and rarely lose ground to opponents. Other football teams just aren’t consistently able to maintain momentum into the second half. The better a team has shown themselves to be in the second half, the more faith you can have in them in this spot. It’s important when evaluating this that you don’t look at too long of a time frame. If significant portions of the personnel have changed for a team then the way they will deal with a lead will have changed as well. Ideally you would only look at games played during the same season, though early in the year you might be forced to look back to the previous year. I don’t see any reason to go deeper than that.
How does the trailing team close? – If you are going to look at the leaders it only makes sense to look at the team that is behind as well. How have they handled being behind in the past? Some teams can’t seem to perform at their best unless they are in a hole. It’s almost as if they need to get their adrenaline going. Other football teams panic when they get behind and can’t focus on their task at hand.
Has the leader been as strong as their point total? – Casual sports bettors will only look at the score and the most obvious headlines to judge what happened in the first half. By looking deeper you can, at times, give yourself a nice edge. What you want to look for is situations where the leading team isn’t nearly as strong as the score indicates. Simply put, some touchdowns show more strength than others. If a football team has scored their points by methodically marching down the field, dominating the defensive line with their offensive line, and creatively dominating their opponent then they could likely continue that effort into the second half. If they have scored in less dominating ways, though – big plays created out of lucky circumstances, scores on special teams, and so on – then it could be harder for them to maintain that momentum into the second half because it has relied more on circumstance than dominance.
Do the stats tell any hidden stories? – Sometimes the stats in a football game tell a very different story than the score does at the half. For example, at times you’ll find that the trailing team has been able to run the ball very well, but haven’t yet been able to turn that into points. In the second half, though, that domination could wear down the defensive line, control the pace of play, and turn into a big advantage for the trailing NFL team. When you can spot these stories that aren’t obvious but are significant you’ll often find that they provide a nice edge. Expert NFL picks are based on such an edge.