At the end of the day it''s all about building units and bringing home the bread so here''s a quick breakdown why bettors should wager their money on pimple-faced college players over the seasoned ironmen of the NFL.
1. In the NFL, parity is king.
Against the spread, parity conquers all. The prime example of this rule is my woeful Detroit Lions (disclaimer: this blog will be discussing the Detroit Lions far more than they deserve or you wish to hear.) The 2008 Lions set an infamous record for futility by putting up a huge donut for the year yet managed to put up a respectable 7-9 record against the spread. Even the most casual NFL handicappers exercised severe caution when facing inflated double-digit Lion spreads: the kitties lost just under half of their games by one touchdown or less. The 2008 Lions point differential and offensive statistics suggest that despite their pathetic record they are miles away from being the worst team in league history. It''s tough to argue they are even among the bottom ten since the merger.
Of the 32 teams in the No Fun League, 23 were within two or less games from .500 against the spread for the season. If that''s not a huge red flag for you, all I can do is wish you good luck on your eleven-team parlays this season. You''re going to need it.
For those of you still brave enough to test the waters, the top NFL teams ATS in 2008 were the Titans (12-3-1) and Ravens (12-4). The Saints (10-5-1) and Eagles (10-6) fared well but there''s a significant drop off to mediocrity after these four teams. The worst teams ATS were the Jaguars (4-12) and Broncos (4-11-1). Don''t forget to factor in the high turnover on NFL squads during the current salary cap era has made worst to first division turnarounds possible (unless you''re the Lions).
2. Freedom of information.
The days of smoke and mirror shows locking bettors out from the inside scoop on their favorite teams are over. There is no lack of information nowadays; college powerhouse programs have paparazzi rivaled coverage; NFL teams welcome documentary film crews into their once sacred training camps. There''s one problem with the wealth of access we have to injury reports, depth charts, practice updates: the oddsmakers have more of it. The house has forged relationships with scouts, boosters, even disgruntled league employees (Tim Donaghy, anyone?)
If only this man had swallowed his whistle before the over hit...
Unless you''re Ace Rothstein, your sources end here. The slight edge for us is that it''s difficult for the house to have insider information on all 120 FBS Division I-A teams (not to mention the 200 programs who often stroll into town for off-season slaughter). It''s easier to cap your alma mater versus directional university state when you are familiar with obscure local conferences. Compare this to an interdivisional battle in the NFL: there''s no angle the house won''t have covered.
A 42-yard field goal in the NFL? Chalk up three points. But can anyone rely on Florida International''s freshmen kicker four months removed from prom to boot it through the uprights with the game on the line?
What about the fan-friendly overtime rules in college? A hard earned under can transform into an undeserving over in two quick possessions.
This is another example of the increased volatility in college football. There is an gargantuan talent disparity between high profile programs such as Oklahoma and USC compared to a Temple or Montana St. When you have 5-star studs going up against junior college walkons; you''re gonna find 50-point spreads.
Lock of the day: manboobs on the moneyline.
Volatility for us wannabe handicappers is good; across the board parity is not. We know we can''t rely on the unknown teenage kicker so we either fade or avoid him. 50-point spreads can be intimidating but if you know the Western Lutheran Community College is only coming into town for a quick paycheck and their starting QB didn''t even make his varsity high school team you can lay the points with real confidence.