Senior sports analyst for Covers.com
Sept. 29, 2005
Forget math computations and ridiculous esoteric trends like that team covers every even week as a road ‘dog getting between five and eight points trends.
It’s mindless crap. You want to win money betting the NFL then develop the right feel for a majority of the teams. OK, how?
Handicap, handicap, handicap and handicap. There’s nothing elaborate to it, at least for me. I’m not a numbers cruncher or stat freak. I’m a watcher, reader and talker. Watch the games, read the right things and talk to those in the know and chances are you’ll have more winners than losers if you know football.
My style is probably different than most, if not all, professional handicappers because I come from a sports writing and fantasy football background.
Sure, I look at statistics, historical trends and angles. Situational elements can be big factors. But I’m primarily a fundamental handicapper. The basis of my handicapping is extensive knowledge of the players. We’re not just talking starting skill position players, but backups, offensive linemen and individual defensive players.
This is where competing in serious fantasy football leagues with deep, deep rosters, including individual defensive players, can hone your knowledge. If you don’t know who Shaud Williams, Brandon Jones, Lemar Marshall, Ciatrick Fason and Demorrio Williams are you better do more homework.
If you’re able to, purchase the NFL satellite package where you can see all the games not on national television. It’s one thing to read a box score and see where a quarterback threw for 300 yards. It’s another thing to understand how he did it - if it was by aggressively throwing downfield or just by dumping off and having his receiver turn little passes into big gains.
From more than 20 years of newspaper experience – writing about football and sports betting – I’ve developed many sources. There’s only so much time in the day so you need to know who’s worth talking to.
I don’t know how people can successfully handicap multiple sports. My congrats to those who do it. I find concentrating solely on NFL all encompassing. The problem with the NFL isn’t information. It’s having too much information.
The key is interpreting that information. Having lots of experience handicapping, extensive knowledge of each team and their players along with a grasp of the various situational aspects can help you decipher.
Indianapolis Colts-Tennessee Titans OVER 45
One of the games I like on the Week 4 NFL card is the Indianapolis Colts-Tennessee Titans total to go OVER 45. Here’s a breakdown why:
Fundamentally – This is where we look at the players. The Titans have the least experienced secondary in the NFL. Their pass rush has been surprisingly effective, but the Colts have yet to allow a sack. Peyton Manning is going to have time to throw to his many good receivers. That’s not good news for rookie cornerback Pacman Jones, making his first NFL start.
Edgerrin James is averaging 108 yards rushing this season. He ran for 100 yards in both games against the Titans last year. The Colts are balanced. The Titans’ young defense hasn’t seen an offense this good yet. They opened against the Steelers. Then they played the offensively-challenged Ravens. Last week, they allowed 31 points on the road to the Rams, who are far more turnover prone than the Colts.
The Colts are going to get their share of points. Can the Titans keep up? Indy’s defense has allowed just 16 points. Yes, the Colts’ defense appears improved. Their secondary is healthy. But the Colts have gone against the Ravens, Jaguars and Browns. The quarterbacks were Kyle Boller, Byron Leftwich (who got banged-up bad during the Colts game) and Trent Dilfer.
Steve McNair has shown a good grasp of new offensive coordinator’s Norm Chow offense. Left tackle Brad Hopkins was suspended opening week. In the two games Hopkins has played, the Titans have averaged 26 points.
The Titans are without suspended Travis Henry. I interpret that as being good for the over. Henry is a power, inside runner. He moves the chain, but isn’t a big-play back. Chris Brown is. Brown is a home-run hitter. He now gets just about all the carries.
Historically – Last year, the Colts averaged 41 points in two games against the Titans. The Titans had a cluster injury problem in their secondary and at linebacker last season. But this year their defense looks worse. Four of the last five in this series have gone over. This game is on grass, an off-surface for Indy. But the Colts have gone over nine of their last 14 on grass.
Situational and Statistical – The Colts are allowing an average of less than six points per game. How long do you think this is going to continue? McNair was the league’s co-MVP with Manning just two years ago. McNair is healthy now. He’s the best quarterback the Colts have faced. He has tall receivers who can hurt a small Colts secondary.
Manning has thrown just two touchdown passes in three games after throwing a record 49 last year. The Colts have gone against two tough defenses, Baltimore and Jacksonville. They scored just 13 at home last week against a Browns defense that was geared to stop the long pass. So they ran James 27 times and controlled the clock.
My feel is that the Colts unleash their full passing attack here after running more than most would have expected the first three games. If Manning can’t put up monster numbers against the Titans’ vulnerable secondary than maybe there is something wrong with Indy’s offense. I think Indy’s offense is fine. The Colts just chose to attack their previous opponents with James, which erases the quick-strike score.
I also feel the Titans can put up points here. It’s a combination that Indy’s defense has been playing above its heads, and that the Titans can move the ball at home with a healthy McNair.
Stephen Nover is a handicapper for Covers.com. His picks are available at coversexperts.com. Stephen is 14-7-1 (66 percent) on his selections this season as documented by Covers. Stephen is a former award-winning sports writer and columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and is the author of three books, “Winning Fantasy Football,” “SportsGaming Beat,” and “Las Vegas Sportsbeat.”
Stephen has been the featured NFL handicapper for “Winning Points” newsletter since 1996 and is a multiple league champion in fantasy football. He was a paid instructor last year at UNLV teaching a class on football betting. He can be reached at
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