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Added December 29th, 2009 by David Glisan

Handicapping final week NFL betting

We’ll have some picks on the final week of the NFL season, but I wanted to take some time and provide an overview on what to do–and what *not* to do–when handicapping the trickiest week of the regular season.  Week 17 of the NFL season is where you’ll find teams playing for different reasons.  Some are trying to make the playoffs.  Some are trying to keep other teams from making the playoffs.  Some are trying to just finish the season without injuries.  Some are playing for jobs, either theirs or their coaches.  And some teams flat out just don’t care anymore.  Here’s a few tips:

–Know Your Scenarios, Just Don’t Automatically Bet Them: It is a helpful starting point if you know all of the playoff scenarios, who needs to win to get in and so forth.  Know which coaches plan to rest starters and which ones don’t.  Keep these in mind, but don’t go out and automatically bet them.  The linesmaker knows them too, and has adjusted the lines on them accordingly.  For example, the New York Jets need to win on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals to make the playoffs.  The Bengals are already in, so the Jets are a -10 home favorite which has already been bet up from -9′ by every moron in the world that thinks this is a ‘sure thing’.

–Don’t Be Afraid To Be A Contrarian: Year in and year out, you’re not going to make money betting on the NFL if you follow the opinions of the general public.  The above example is a good case in point–I’d be a lot more likely to bet on the Bengals in this spot against the ‘must win’ Jets for a number of reasons.  The ‘public’ might not always be wrong, but even when they’re right you’re going to pay a premium to be on the same side as they are.  They’re not “right” enough of the time to negate the value that you get over the long haul by going against them.

–Just Because a Team ‘Rests Starters’ Doesn’t Mean They’ll Lose: A lot of playoff bound teams rest their starters in the final week of the season, but I’ll let you in on a big secret:  some of their backups are pretty good.  And all of them would like to *be* starters in the NFL at some point.  Just because a team isn’t going to play all of their starters doesn’t mean they’re going to throw in the towel and not be competitive.  There’s few things in the NFL as game changing as a talented player motivated by the opportunity to improve his stature in the eyes of his coach or the league.

–Look To Play On Teams Playing For Something Non-Tangible:  In other words, look for teams that are playing for pride.  One team that I’m very interested in playing on this week is San Francisco despite their status as a -7 road favorite at St. Louis.  The Niners have been a great ATS play all year (8-4-1 against the spread) because Mike Singletary has lit a fire under this team’s ass.   I like them to finish strong against a team that quit caring a long time ago.

We’ll be back later in the week with some NFL betting free picks, but these concepts are good things to add to your sports handicapping education notebook.  You *are* taking notes, aren’t you??

 
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