There are two times of year: football season and waiting for football season. The wait is finally over; Week 0 is done and dusted. With dozens of games on deck for the weekend, there are plenty of betting opportunities. How do you go about picking and choosing where to put your money?
I’m here to help. Look for:
Relevant returning production
As you may be aware, this is the year of the super senior. More squads have an increased number of players returning after the NCAA approved an additional year of play due to the pandemic. As a result, it seems like everyone is back! You may read, “The entire unit returns ...” However, returning production does not necessarily translate to an improvement in performance.
Florida State, for example, returns all five starters on the offensive line. Sounds great, right? The Seminoles ranked 114th in quarterback protection last season with 29 sacks allowed to the four quarterbacks who played. That was an improvement from the 125th-ranked quarterback protection the year before. With all five starters returning, perhaps this 114th-ranked unit will now break the top 100, but it's likely to still be vulnerable.
On the other end of the spectrum, Clemson returns everyone on the defensive line. The Tigers ranked as the fifth-best pass rush last season. With the unit returning intact, Clemson could have the No. 1 pass rush this year. Returning a bottom 10 unit? Not so important. Returning a top-five unit? Now we’re talkin’!
Strength vs. weakness
There are hundreds of stats you can utilize to analyze a matchup. For me, my go-tos are passing offense (quarterback sacks per game) and passing defense (sacks per game).
Can a team protect its quarterback? Can an opponent pressure the quarterback? More often than not, you will have a weak offensive line facing a solid pass rush that can disrupt an offense.
Take North Carolina at Miami last season. The Hurricanes were 3.5-point favorites at home. Not only did I take the +3.5, but also the +135 moneyline because Miami had the 107th-ranked offensive line, while the Tar Heels were coming into this matchup with the 16th-best pass rush. Miami quarterback D’Eriq King couldn’t produce and the favorites lost outright 62-26.
Perhaps a team has a one-dimensional offense, like a run-first team, and is ranked top 50 in rushing yards but bottom 10 in passing. If the one strength is in the run game, then does the opponent it is facing have a great rushing defense? If so, that one-dimensional offense no longer has the running game as a strength.
Then ask yourself: If a team’s strength is no longer available, how dies it score? Consider taking the defensive opponent against the spread or a team total under. Keep this tip in mind when handicapping games each week.
These are just two ways to help you navigate through Week 1 of football betting. There are a lot of games on the board, but you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. Look for returning production that matters and strength vs. weakness to simplify your betting card.