There is no better feeling when betting on the NFL than cashing a ticket on an underdog that pulls off a big upset. You feel like you can see the future and that you are, at that moment at least, smarter than everyone else. Any upset win by a big underdog brings on a serious headache the next week, though – you have to figure out how to deal with that football team when they hit the field again. Are they a good team that was just overlooked, or are they a lousy team that got lucky once? Here are five questions pro-football handicappers can ask that will help them figure out how to deal with an NFL underdog after an upset win:
How did they win last week? – This is by far the biggest factor to consider. There are countless ways a football team can win, and only some of them earn a team lasting credit. Did the team win in impressive fashion, or did they only barely win? Did their opponent play well, or did they have a particularly bad day? Were penalties are a particularly big factor in the game, or did the officials swallow their whistles? Did the opponent have a weakness that the team was able to exploit? Was the win a result of a player having a particularly good day that he isn’t likely to be able to replicate, or did the team just play well together? Was the weather a factor? How about the location? If you can determine that the underdog winner won because they are a good football team who is in top form then you may be very interested in betting on them again. If you can determine that they just had a good day that they aren’t likely to have a gain, though, then the smart thing to do may be to bet against them. The sports betting public likely won’t look beyond the score and the main storylines when evaluating a game, so the deeper you can look into the game and the reasons for the outcome the better.
Was the price last week legit? – Sometimes an underdog isn’t actually nearly as much of an underdog as they appear to be, so the upset isn’t nearly as significant as it seems to be. To determine how realistic an upset is you need to look at the sports odds for last week. If the underdog is an unpopular football team playing on the road against a very popular public team then the odds will almost certainly be inflated for the favorite, and the underdog won’t get nearly the respect they should have. Of course, public teams aren’t always great teams, and the public isn’t always the best judge of the relative quality of two teams.
What did it take out of them? – If the win was particularly difficult then it could take a lot out of them. If it was a particularly physical game then they could be sore and banged up for their next game and that could negatively impact their performance. If it was a particular tight game that went back and forth and wasn’t settled to the end then they could be emotionally spent and could have a hard time getting up for their next game – especially if their next football game is against a lesser opponent than the one they beat. If their win was particularly surprising and dominating then they could be a bit too impressed with themselves and could struggle to focus and prepare for the next game like they need to.
How are the matchups this week? – Ultimately you don’t want to spend too much time looking backwards when you are considering these situations. The past is important, but it is far more important to look at what they are facing this week. How do they match up to their opponent on offense and defense? Do they have opportunities that they can exploit, or are they outmatched. You need to spend a lot more time handicapping the next NFL game then worrying about the last game.
How is the public reacting? – Perhaps the biggest impact of an upset like this can be the reaction of the NFL betting public and the impact that has on the next odds. If the public is particularly impressed by the upset then they might bet more on the team next week, and that could rob them of any value they might have. If the upset is easy to dismiss on the surface, though, then the public still might not pay any attention to the football team, and you could enjoy real value if you still like the underdog. Be smart in using this information when handicapping the winning NFL underdog.