Back in the day, I was known to wager on a game or two. It was a hobby of sorts. I’d keep statistics on all the major pro sports – NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB – charting individual and team developments over the course of a given season, comparing such variables as home and away records, streaks, performances on grass vs. turf, against certain teams, against lefties or righties, etc. I had notebooks crammed full of data that allowed me to formulate systems that, given the history, would produce winners. Theoretically anyway. In truth, despite significant effort, I didn’t really win anymore than I lost (except for baseball which is a statistician’s dream and does yield fruitful results if you’re willing to put in the time to crunch the numbers but, really, at the end of the day there‘s so little joy in following the MLB). The NFL was where it was at but, sadly, the league plays so few games in a given season that it’s near impossible to identify any sort of pattern in a team’s performance against the Vegas spread. And drawing from performances in previous seasons doesn’t make much sense because, say, the Chicago Bears of 2009 are a wildly different team than the Chicago Bears of 2008 – to say nothing of previous incarnations. No, team histories don’t offer much in the way of useful information. However, betting history does. If you’re looking for a winning system, look not to how individual teams fare against the spread but how teams in general have fared. Having said that, finding reliable patterns in general team histories vs. the spread is an incredibly daunting past. In my experience, only one system really worked – not every time, but certainly more times than it lost. So if you’re in Vegas this upcoming weekend, take advantage of this tried and usually true formula by putting some money down on the Buffalo Bills.
Here’s the formula: ALWAYS BET AGAINST A TEAM THAT HAS WON ITS LAST TWO GAMES, SCORING MORE THAN 75 POINTS IN THE PROCESS, IF IT IS A ROAD FAVORITE IN ITS NEXT GAME. Remember, when Vegas sets the line, they do so based NOT on what believe is a fair point differential but what the betting public believes to be a fair (often inflated) point differential. And the betting public likes a team on a roll. Especially one that has scored 75+ points in its last two games. A team like, say, the New Orleans Saints who put up 45 points in week #1, 48 points in week #3, and are 5 ½ point favorites in Buffalo this weekend.
Take the Bills at home, and the points. Then go celebrate by checking out the sharks at the Mandalay Bay.
Hey, one of the great things about the NFL is its ability to incite passion like no other pro sports. There are the teams you Love (with a capital L) and teams you Hate (with a capital H). Now you can tell a lot about a person based on team preferences. Now, rather than risk of offending anyone by offering up my incisive psychological evaluations detailing “What team you support says about you”, I’ll simply list my Top 5 Most Hated NFL Teams and my Top 5 Favorite NFL Teams.
THE TOP 5 TEAMS I ROOT AGAINST
5. The Kansas Chiefs: Mainly because they play in the AFC West, but also because, despite its vast history, the team has always lacked character. Sure there’ve been flashes here and there but for the most part they’re a thoroughly unmemorable franchise. If you’re sitting in the office Monday morning talking about that weekend’s games and find yourself unable to recall who it was a given team played, chances are it was probably the Chiefs.
4. The Indianapolis Colts: This is a team that has gradually made its way up my Hated List purely on the basis of Peyton Manning’s spasmodic audibling that makes it appear as though he is speaking in tongues, having been “gifted by an exceptionally animated spirit” every time he steps up to the line of scrimmage.
3. The Denver Broncos: Also because they play in the AFC West, and because their owner wears a fur coat (understand, it’s not so much the fact that it’s fur but the fact that he’s a grown man in fur), and because they’re my team’s arch-nemesis. Also, because Alex Levine loves ‘em.
2. The Philadelphia Eagles: Two months ago, in the grand sliding scale of team preferences, the Eagles would have been vacillating somewhere in the middle of the pack. Today, thanks to their acquisition of Michael Vick, they climb their way into the #2 spot. Congratulations.
1. The New England Patriots: You know that incredibly successful team that almost everybody seems to love? With that incredibly successful quarterback that everybody seems to love? That team that is the ice cream equivalent of vanilla, extremely popular and wholly inoffensive. Like the San Francisco 49ers of the 90’s. And today’s New England Patriots.
THE TOP 5 TEAMS I ROOT FOR
5. The Green Bay Packers: One of the most storied franchises in the league’s history, no team better captures the spirit of the NFL. While most teams are marked by their ownership or flashy players, the Packers are distinguished for their loyal fans and the bitterly frigid of Lambeau Field.
4. The Cincinnati Bengals: I’ve always been a fan of their vertical game, their colorful personalities, and those kooky helmets.
3. The Dallas Cowboys: One of the few teams that it’s almost impossible to be on the fence about. You either love ’em, or you hate ’em. And given that, like most kids with an interest in the sport, I grew up rooting for the Cowboys against their hated rival Steelers, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of that youthful passion and loyalty still remains.
2. The New Orleans Saints: The perennial sad sacks of the NFL, there was always something to be admired, or at the very least pitied, about this team. With their Bourbon Street culture, black and gold uniforms, and umbrella-toting/dancing owner, the Saints have always been the slow-witted cousin you desperately want to see succeed.
1. The Oakland Raiders: Yeah, not much to cheer about in ages, but I remember the days when the silver and black were to be feared, when Hayes and Haynes ran the corners and Commitment to Excellence actually meant something. They were the bad guys and I loved ’em for it. Unfortunately, nowadays, they’re just plain ol’ bad.