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Football Handicapping Methods
by Website Staff

If you talk to ten gamblers there is a good chance you will hear ten different ways to handicap football. Some suggestions might be valuable while others will cost you money.

Expert handicappers consider all variables including power ratings, trends and angles, situational and match up analysis.

Power Ratings

Power ratings are calculations that use statistics to rank teams. Handicappers compute power ratings to use as a starting point when analyzing sports matches.

Trend Analysis
Trends and angles are tendencies that repeat such as, NBA teams playing back to back road games have a losing record. Trends and angles that have a small sample size should not be given too much weight when handicapping. Consider trends that have a statistically significant sample size or team trends that you are intimately familiar.

Do not bet random angles but scrutinizes every idea to verify that they will produce a significant advantage on future wagers. This may lead to a concept being modified or totally discarded but a system is always thoroughly tested before real money is wagered. Back testing systems is an essential part of the process.

If you find a trend that has done well in the past than it must be tested against following years to prove it is valid. Ideally testing or practice betting should be done on live games. If the trend still holds water, you may decide to use it if you are confident that the sample size warrants faith in it. For handicappers the sample size is usually measured in games played. It may be necessary to review a statistical reference to determine if the sample size is sufficient.

Situational Analysis
Situational Analysis measures the impact of outside influences. This may include the weather, injuries or a mid-season coaching change.

John Madden mentioned on Monday Night Football that passing teams had the advantage over running teams on a slippery field. The reasoning is offensive lineman and running backs cannot get any traction in the mud. True or not weather should be considered when handicapping.

In the 2008 Capitol One Bowl the Florida Gators were a ten point favorite but took one on the chin from the University of Michigan. The Wolverines had enough fortitude to win their Head Coach's last game. Meanwhile the Gators experienced a classic letdown game having played in the BCS Championship game the year before.

Injuries are often over compensated for by handicappers. Exceptions are cumulative injuries at a specific position and season ending injuries to Pro Bowl or All-Star caliber players. Most winning teams can handle any player loss for a few games but a long-term injury to a team leader can result in a losing streak.

Match Up Analysis
Match up analysis compares a team's style of play with their opponents. Statistics can be used for match up analysis. For example comparing an NFL teams rushing yards versus their opponents rushing yards against.

A position by position analysis might be used. When analyzing match up's we are looking for specific strengths or weaknesses when comparing two teams. In the NFL, Head Coach Bill Belichick's Patriot teams are well known for exploiting the competition by taking advantage of player mis-matches.

It can be difficult to handicap games early in the season when so few games have been played and there is not enough statistical data to properly evaluate a team. During this time of the year it is important to include returning starters in the equation when handicapping College Football. Also consider NFL teams that performed better than expected the previous season often regress the following year due to having a tougher schedule.

Due to it's popularity in America college and professional football have become a year round pastime. With national signing day, spring games, free agent signings, the draft and training camp it never ends. The crowning of the Super Bowl Champion should signal the start of the next season for football handicappers. Now is the time to update your statistics database and start crunching numbers because next season is just around the corner.

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