Saturday, June 22, 2024

Ways to Handicap the NFL

November 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Handicapping is a method of predicting the outcome of a sporting event by looking at all of the information presently available for the two teams involved. In this case, we are looking at the NFL matches in order to try and predict the match winner. Being able to properly handicap will give you an advantage when placing your bets, as you will have a more thorough knowledge of the teams involved. This does not, however, give a 100% accurate prediction. A prediction is an educated guess on what might happen during a match, and as we all know, NFL matches are very unpredictable.

There are several factors you should take into consideration when handicapping.


Analyzing the Statistics

Many handicapper’s use numbers in order to predict a future outcome, and the main weapon in their arsenal are statistics. There are tons of different statistics that can help during a match.

    1. Team Stats. Team stats are those general statistics that you can find relating to how well the team performed as a team. This means average scores, for and against, total yards, rushing yards, and passing yards. These stats will give you a very broad view of what each team’s strengths and weaknesses are, and you can use that to create a preliminary prediction by comparing the two teams overall stats against each other. Other team stats include:
      • 1st Downs / 3rd Downs
      • Offensive Plays and Average Yards
      • Field Goals
      • Touchdowns
      • Time of Possession
      • Turnover Ratio
    2. Player Stats. Player stats are the individual performance figures for each player on a team. For instance, for a quarterback you have stats that include total yards, pass completions vs. attempts, sacks, interceptions, and then their overall QB rating. You can look up the individual stats for any player on the team. These stats can help you determine which key players are necessary in the team’s offense or defense. You can even compare them against their opposing player, like a WR and the Cornerback.


    1. Turnover Ratio. This is part of the team statistics, but is actually an important number to always keep in mind. The reason is that the ratio gives you a good insight into whether the team has good ball possession or not, and whether they are able to maintain/regain possession of the ball. It is a rough way of looking at whether a team is prone to losing the ball, or if they do a good job of keeping the ball. The more times a team has possession, the more opportunities they have of scoring. You can compare this ratio to the number of times they actually score, or they keep their opponents from scoring to give you a better look at how they take advantage of the turnover ratio.


  1. Special Teams. Special teams usually don’t play that long or often in a match, but the small amount of time they are on the field, they must perform at their best or bad things could happen. Special teams include kick-off team, punts, and field goals. There are many times that a game is decided by a field goal, so don’t underestimate their importance on the field.


Tips to Successfully Handicap

Even though looking at the numbers is important, there is more to predicting and handicapping than just analyzing the numbers. Here a few tips to keep in mind as you place your NFL bets.

  • Watch the games! There is no better way to understand how a team plays than actually watching them play. This is why you should watch the NFL matches on a regular basis, even if you only watch the teams that you are more interested in. It is a good way to get information on how well the team plays together, whether there is chemistry between the QB and his WR’s, or if the defense has a good sense of their roles. Also, you get to enjoy all the competitiveness that makes football such a great sport.
  • Underdogs make great bets. When you visit your sportsbook, you will notice that there are obvious and sometimes not so obvious favorites. When there is a close match, you can actually see it in the odds. Placing a bet on an underdog during a close match is actually a good bet, as you could end up winning much more for the same bet. We all know that a football match in unpredictable, so that means even the underdogs have a chance of winning. Always make a good prediction, and if it points at the underdog, don’t hesitate!
  • Injuries. Many handicappers will argue whether injuries are important or not to take into consideration, I’ll leave the final decision up to you to use them or not. If a 2nd or 3rd string player gets injured, it doesn’t impact a team much or even at all. However, when one of those star players get an injury, it can weigh heavily on the team. Consider a team like Dallas Cowboys. Their running plays mostly revolve around DeMarco Murray, so what would happen to their running offense if he were to get injured. These are the type of questions looking at the injury reports can help with.
  • Weather reports. Weather is another factor that flies under the radar. The weather can actually have a great impact on the way a team performs. Windy or icy conditions can take its toll on the athletic performance of the players, and can even affect the ball and its handling.