When trouble or disaster strikes the first thing anyone tells another or likely tells themselves is "When am I going to learn?". No doubt the wise man (or woman) learns more from their mistakes than successes and no more so than in gambling where failures far outnumber victories. Just win about 65% of the time baby and if you manage your money right you're planning your retirement.
That being said, here's a review of five huge lessons learned circled in big red ink from the past NFL football season. Gaining from them won't guarantee automatic success in 2016, but just may offer some wisdom for better results once this Sunday's Super Bowl ends.
1. The NFL Pre-Season Means Less than Nothing
When I am elected NFL Commissioner my first act will be ordering the pre-season cut down to two games, starters only play the first half and all legal wagering abolished. Who are we trying to kid asking fans to pay full price to attend games in full priced parking lots when the results mean squat? The real object of the game is to pray nobody gets hurt. And only in pre-season Game 3 do first-teamers play three coherent quarters of game-ready action.
If you don't believe me ask Philadelphia Eagles or Detroit Lions fans. After crushing the Packers IN Green Bay 39-26, the Eagles were 5th choice to win the Super Bowl at insane 8-1 future odds at leading offshore sportsbooks like Diamond Sports, Bovada and BetOnline. This despite QB Aaron Rodgers was bowling that August evening and not in uniform along with about 15 other Packers starters. The Over/Under for Philadelphia Eagles wins was subsequently increased to 9.5 or 10 in Nevada and most preferred offshore sportsbooks.
As for the Lions, same story. Detroit was coming off consecutive wins over the Jaguars and Bills to complete a 3-1 pre-season with wild predictions of the NFL's "sleeper team". They were asleep alright and finished the year like the Eagles at 7-9. As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a traditional dead 0-4 pre-season resulted in almost making the AFC Championship game if not for a slew of injuries.
2. Always Risky Betting Against the New England Patriots
From July 1st it seemed like a wise-guy move to bet against Tom Brady and Patriots. The very first game of the regular season set the tone against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was thought that Brady would be suspended for "Deflategate" for 4 games and the line for almost 30 days was set at New England -1. I urged everyone to NOT bet against owner Robert Kraft's team of attorneys no matter what the outcome and game result. Patriots -1 at home with any QB starter was a steal. The air was let out of ball and the line jumped to Patriots -7 when Brady's appeal was upheld. Result 28-21 Patriots with a last minute Steelers TD to help some bettors at +7.5. But the early bird was an easy winner backing another tenacious Brady game effort. Fast forward to the season results was not too shabby either. Tommy Boy played through a patchwork of Patriot teammate injuries to the AFC Championship game. A 13-5 straight-up record, winning 9-6-3 against the spread.
3. The Line Tells You Something
Just can't repeat this often-used cliché' often enough. It simply means that if something looks "fishy" there is usually something to smell behind it. In gambling language, if say the Giants are -2.5 favorites over the Redskins but all common sense suggests they should be -6 favorites, we should seriously take a very close look at the Redskins. There are some prevailing reasons we are missing and wise bettors have detected them. Often this happens either very early in the wagering or very late to the last second of kick-off. Similar to what's legendary in horse racing as "the late money".
An NFL textbook example of this occurred in Week One when the Indianapolis Colts opened as a -3.5 favorite on the road vs. the Buffalo Bills. Strangely, the line kept moving on that Sunday at day break toward the Bills being a -1 favorite when the game began. At that time the Colts were 3rd choice to win the AFC behind healthy MVP favorite, QB Andrew Luck. Result: Indianapolis was never in the game from the start, down 17-0 at halftime in route to a 27-14 loss. It set the template for their very disappointing 8-8 season. Many bettors felt like they missed some inside information or something was very wrong after that game. By NFL week 3 perhaps they were vindicated that the Colts were indeed overrated or the Bills underrated. But sorry, no refunds.
4. Flush your September Predictions
The Atlanta Falcons. Remember them? Please do as there will be another "Atlanta Falcons" type collapse come next September. The team your friend will be quickly bragging "I told you so", then hiding from in December.
Those Falcons flew out to a 4-0 division lead and 4-0 ATS and were never heard from again. Incredibly, they dropped NINE straight games ATS and were quickly forgotten while the Carolina Panthers soared. Despite that "scary offense" the smart money was on UNDER the Total all season long. Atlanta must have set some sort of record, going 2-14 in the Over/Under Totals category. This is a team with lots of talent, so who knows what to expect next year. It's likely now veteran QB Matt Ryan will be under all kinds of pressure in 2016 to right the ship under a new head coach Dan Quinn in his 2nd year.
5. How about Dem Cowboys
Pardon me if I offend any Dallas Cowboys lovers out there but you might need a loan if you bet on the Cowpokes all-season long. Matching their 4-12 regular season record was an awful 4-12 mark against the spread.
Yes, I feel bad for injured Tony Romo, which was the likeliest cause of all evil bestowed upon Dallas this season. Losing superstar WR Dez Bryant for seven games didn't help either but did you know that Dez only had 31 grabs for a sad 401 yards the nine games he did show up. Combing through the numbers, the Cowboys lost to several playoff teams including Carolina, Seattle, Green Bay and split with Washington. But the real eye-openers included a 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay as a -1 favorite plus the last game. A 34-23 loss to the Redskins when Washington didn't even need a win for the playoffs. The "wise guy money" bet the Cowboys to -3 favorites and looked foolish when then the Redskins built a 24-0 1st half lead.
Overall, only the Tennessee Titans at 3-13 ATS had a worse wagering record. Major offshore bookmakers and Nevada sportsbooks everywhere thankfully bless the Cowboys for their sad performance this season. Under the circumstances Dallas can be forgiven for only 4 wins but not only 4 wins against the spread. Be careful. A healthy report on Tony Romo's upcoming shoulder surgery will enable them to pack on the extra points for the Cowboy-loving wagering base again next year.
Well, like any mistake you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. Better strategy is figuring out how to learn from these missteps. Get back to you about that...
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding NFL previews and picks from Glenn, click here.