In the last NFL preseason Sunday night game before the real action gets underway, the New Orleans Saints will go up against the Oakland Raiders. This game will be nationally televised as these two teams wrap up the season.
The latest NFL spread at most top sportsbooks has the Saints listed as 4.5 point chalk over the Raiders. The over/under for this game is listed at 38.5. As I handicap this game I want to cover angles that have proven to be very successful in the past, line movement.
Line Movement and Public Picks
Using information provided by the good folks at SportsInsights.com, I will break down the game with respect to the line move and how that can be used to select a winner. A vital part of tracking the line is determining who the public is on, the smart money moves and the steam moves.
I am going to break down this game using information provided by sportsinsight.com (For a 14 day FREE trial of all the information you see on the site and more, click here). The first thing to notice in this game is the public consensus. It should come as no surprise that the public is on the Saints. They have had success in the last few years, while the Raiders have struggled. The latest consensus shows that 74% of the betting public is on the Saints, with just 26% on the Raiders. For the most part, it is best to bet against or fade the public when it comes to betting on football.
Next we will look at “Steam” plays. Steam Moves are defined as sudden line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace. “Steam” occurs when there is a sudden overload of money placed at multiple locations. Steam in most cases occurs due to betting groups, betting syndicates, and a few key players with the resources to “get down heavily” at multiple locations, all at once. In this game it’s the Raiders that are getting the “Smart Money” in this game. If you handicap just using the line movement combined with public consensus and Smarty money, the play would be on the Oakland Raiders. While this is a great handicapping tool—it should not be the only one.
Football statistics should also be incorporated into your handicapping method, and although many “math experts” will proclaim that they have some magic formula to always pick winners, the truth of the matter is, they don’t. They just use football stats that have a direct correlation to winning football games.
One of the most popular stats used by professional handicappers is pass efficiency (Yds/P) which is just yards per pass play. Many of the stats sites will break these stats down for you and make them easy for you to find and use (for free) when handicapping football games.
In this game it is interesting to know that in limited preseason action that both Oakland and the Saints have a Yds/P=4.8. Most would assume that the Saints would have a better result, but they don’t. Since most of you are not here for a math class, I will proceed but realize that many stats are helpful when handicapping a game to include, but not limited to turnovers, penalties, rushing off/def, and more.
Since preseason stats are often skewed and teams change in the offseason there are other areas that need to be investigated. With a wealth of information at your fingertips, researching a team’s philosophy, injury report, and personnel, heading into a game is very important. Overlooking this information could be costly.
A quick look at a Raiders site would reveal this information on the upcoming game.
“Campbell and Oakland’s healthy starters are slated to work into the third quarter of this week’s tilt, though the offense may be without several key parts against the Saints. Star running back Darren McFadden remains sidelined with an orbital bone fracture, while wide receivers Jacoby Ford (broken hand), Louis Murphy (hamstring) and Chaz Schilens (knee) are still on the mend from injuries that also kept them out of the San Francisco game.
In addition, tight end Kevin Boss will likely miss the rest of the preseason after spraining his knee in last weekend’s defeat.”
A quick look at the Saints side of the ball reveals injuries in Saints camp as well.
“New Orleans will be heading to the Coliseum with a few injury concerns of its own, with wide receiver Lance Moore (groin) and Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks (knee) both ruled out of Sunday’s matchup. Strong safety Roman Harper is questionable to play after fracturing his pinkie finger in practice this week.”
One of the most telling quotes headed into this game is this one mentioned by Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams.
“How we approached our first preseason game (against SF) was a certain way because we didn’t have our spring practices; how we approached our second game (against Houston) was, ‘we’re going to do this set of scheme, this set of personnel packages because we didn’t have spring practices,” he said. “Now the next phase is going to be here (in Oakland). Now had we had all our spring practices, it would have been a different approach.
“The big thing we got done in the Houston Texans game was the ability to evaluate some people on, ‘should they belong?’ and a lot of people said, ‘I don’t belong,’” he added.
This simply states that due to some loss of practices, the Saints are still evaluating talent on defense and are less concerned with winning ballgames and more concerned with finding personnel that are ready to play in the scheme.
Top Rated Sportsbook
Another thing that is important is getting a top rated sportsbook. Several sportsbooks are safe and reliable and having an account at one of these books is priceless. BetOnline is one of these sportsbooks and they are currently offering up to $900 in free plays to wager on the NFL. Open an account at BetOnline and don’t worry during the season.
Trends, Weather, and Misc.
This last group of handicapping tools is important, but they are often overlooked and discarded.
Weather is important because football plays in any type of weather, rain, wind and snow. If you want to bet on a team that moves the ball through the air and it’s will windy and raining, that should change your outlook to the game.
Trends are a bit more challenging. Trends are everywhere and are easy to find, but you have to make sure that the ones that you are using are relevant to the game.
All handicapping methods are different. Whether you pay for a handicapper to give you picks, or you select your own, you should be able to ask questions about the selection and get information as to “why” a handicapper makes a pick. If you are selecting your own games, using different tools and approaches will only help your handicapping. For this reason, my selections are always free.
The Saints have made it clear they are still feeling out their defense in an attempt to make up for missed practices. The Raiders need an impressive outing and winning is important as they have to show their fan base that they are going to improve this season.
The Saints have spent the week away from home and have had practices in California all week. They will be looking forward to getting back home and will sleepwalk through this game. The Raiders have experienced NFL depth at the QB position as well as other key areas. The Raiders pull away late and win the game on the field.