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How to Handicap the Remainder of the 2014 NFL and College Football Season

November 16, 2014

Forget about your past results. They don’t matter. What matters now is making money the rest of the 2014 NFL season (and playoffs). In order to have success the rest of the way, you need to be able to accurately handicap the teams and project future outcomes. You do that based on what you’ve learned about the teams thus far and the data you have available (i.e. ATS record, home/road splits, etc.).

What have we learned about the teams thus far? A lot! We’ve learned that the Seattle Seahawks and Florida State Seminoles are having a hard time defending their titles. That shouldn’t come as much surprise. After all, it’s rare that a team successfully defends a championship in the NFL or college game. From a betting standpoint, it’s usually best to bet against defending champions. Why? Because the general public gives them too much respect, which means they won’t cover the spread as often as you might think.

What’s this mean going forward?

In order to handicap the defending champs, we must take into consideration their performances thus far. They are under-performing but that doesn’t mean it will continue. Seattle is playing better lately so maybe they are starting to learn how to play with expectations. Florida State is continuing to struggle to blowout opponents that they should be able to handle easily.

These are two teams that are tough to project because they are both talented but under-performing. However, they have the potential to put it together and start dominating on a weekly basis – especially Florida State. Personally, I think Florida State will continue struggling to cover, but I expect better play going forward from Seattle. So take that into consideration when handicapping games.

Handicapping football games properly

We pretty much know the true abilities of most of the teams in the NFL. Expecting, say, St. Louis to turn it around and win their last 7 games is a bit of a stretch. The best way to project teams going forward ATS is to base your decisions partly on their ATS+/-. If you’re not familiar what ATS+/-, it is the average amount of points the team covers by.

In the NFL, ATS+/- at the midway point or beyond is a solid way of projecting how successful a team will be at covering the spread going forward. The Kansas City Chiefs are leading the NFL in ATS+/- at 8.6 points per game. The Chiefs got off to a slow start, but they are starting to play up to their capabilities and will likely continue covering the spread consistently. They are 7-2 ATS this year, but are getting better as the season progresses. This is the type of team you should consider riding. They’re improving and lead the league in ATS+/-.

When handicapping a game, take into consideration the following; ATS, ATS+/-, injuries, home/road splits, match-ups (rush offense versus rush defense, etc.), etc. Use all the data you have available, along with your own assessment of each team up to this point. We’re deep enough into the college and NFL season to know enough about the teams in order to make informed wagers.