Are you a lifelong Browns fan? Have you been worn down by over two decades of “next year” talk? It’s tough continually subjecting yourself to an awful team with little chance of escaping the cycle. What do you even look forward to every season? It’s not like there’s any point in betting on Cleveland to win the Super Bowl; this isn’t European football after all.
But there is a way you can enjoy the upcoming season, though, if you just set your sights a little lower … ok a lot lower, say five wins. If you think Cleveland can hit that rather low bar, you can root for your beloved Browns and earn yourself a pretty penny at the same time. If you’re a more pessimistic fan, you could still profit of your team as you cheer for the first overall pick.
How? It’s all thanks to the magic of the NFL’s win total betting.
Sportsbooks all over have been releasing their win total numbers for the 2016 season, giving fans something to think about even as the NFL enters its least active time of the year. A perfect long-term bet to make, the win total gives you the option to take the OVER and root for a team’s success, or the UNDER and celebrate its failures.
Betting on win totals is a season-long commitment, but there are some advantages to betting the year as a whole. Football games often have crazy occurrences and unlikely outcomes. But betting how a team will do over the course of a year removes some of the randomness that can destroy week-by-week bets. As long as you have a good understanding of your team, betting on win totals is safer than betting on a single game, making things like Brown fandom far more bearable.
If you’re looking to strike out into the world of win total betting, here are some things to remember for the upcoming season.
It was easy to write off the Carolina Panthers ahead of last year after they lost their top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in training camp. But as is often the case in sports, other players stepped up. A cast of four solid – though not spectacular – receivers stretched defenses and helped Carolina have one of the top offenses in the league.
Green Bay’s offense didn’t cope with the loss of receiver Jordy Nelson nearly as well, but still fell just one win short of hitting their win total. And as big of a loss as Nelson was, the gains around Eddie Lacy’s belt line had a bigger impact. The “fat back” was underwhelming in his third season, and the Packers offense suffered for it.
Important players will get injured again this training camp; it’s a sad fact of football. But as long as a team has a good coaching staff in place, you shouldn’t see much of a drop in quality of play …
Every rule has an exception. This one rarely comes into play because quarterbacks don’t do anything in training camp that could put them in harm’s way. Unless they’re made of Bradford-brand glass, they’ll likely survive until at least Week 2 of the season: long enough to completely screw over your bet. And if a high-profile QB does go down over the summer, you likely won’t be able to capitalize unless you’re right in front of the betting window when the news breaks.
Another strategy that I’ve been guilty of in the past is looking at a team’s schedule and trying to forecast how they’ll fair in each game. It’s a futile effort. Forecasting how Week 1 will play out is difficult enough; trying to determine what a team will look like in Week 17 is an exercise in stupidity.
Just as an example, how many teams would’ve had the Washington Redskins or New York Jets circled as “easy wins” last year? Who would’ve pinpointed the Dallas Cowboys or Baltimore Ravens as a probable loss? There are surprises in every week, let alone every season. It’s best to take your high school teacher’s advice and keep your eyes on your own paper.
As much as players say they only focus on the game, there are a lot of factors that can sour a locker room outside of just bad play. Two years ago, there were rumblings that the San Francisco 49ers hated playing for Jim Harbaugh and that the coach wouldn’t be retained after the season (in which the Niners ultimately stumbled to a disappointing 8-8 record).
Chuck Pagano was in a similar position last year. Rumors were that he and GM Ryan Grigson didn’t see eye-to-eye and that his job was on the line. That didn’t help the Colts’ on-field performance, even before Andrew Luck got hurt. Indianapolis also fell short of expectations at 8-8.
It stretches beyond coaches and general managers, too. Three franchises (the Rams, Raiders, and Chargers) went into last season with the prospect of relocation hanging over their heads. Only one of them surpassed their win total: the Raiders, who had basement-level expectations at 5.5 wins.
Say you’re a hardcore Eagles fan. You watch every game, including the pre- and post-game analysis; and when you’re not watching them, you hate-watch the Giants and Cowboys in the hopes that they lose. This year, you’ve heard a ton of rumblings that the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to have a breakout season. You haven’t seen the Jags play since they came to town in 2014, but what the hay? You throw a couple hundred down on the OVER.
Every year, the media has these “consensus” teams that are ready to break through, and they rarely ever do. You should know that first-hand, hypothetical Eagles fan! You were a preseason media darling last year.
There’s nothing wrong with buying into hype, but don’t do it solely on the word of someone else. At least watch some Blake Bortles highlights beforehand, and understand that he’s thrown eight pick-sixes in the last two seasons!
Betting teams you actually know well allows you to have more confidence in your picks, and makes following them for a season that much more fun.
(Photo credit: Mike Lizzi (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/])
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