Okay, so you made future-based NFL bets. And here you are, midway through the season, and half the teams you bet on to win their respective division and ultimately make the playoffs are dwelling in the cellar.
Does this mean you just wasted money and should never bet again?
Sometimes, things happen that will wreck your bets and you have zero control over them. Even if you did your research, analyzed each schedule, player, coach, scheme, and essential personnel.
And we aren’t just talking about a team going on a cold streak with no explanation. Things like an injury bug, an abrupt change, bad coaching, or even the weather can sink a good team and raise a supposedly poor team.
Let’s talk about the 6 things that lay outside your control.
1 – Injury Bugs
Teams get hit hard with the injury bug. And it will sink a good team. Especially if a star offensive or defensive player goes down with an injury. The season is most likely over in such a scenario. Or at least it is that much harder for your team to win their division.
You can control much of what I shared in the intro. But you can’t control an injury.
Now sometimes a team uses a fantastic “next man up” mentality, and the backup is every bit as good as the starter. Even if that starter is the heart and soul of the offense, defense, or the entire team.
But there is always that one or even two teams where it seems like the entire starting roster falls victim to the bug. Top players land on IR and the season sinks before it has a chance to swim.
The 2020 Dallas Cowboys are a fantastic example. Going into the season, they favored the Cowboys to win and even run away with the NFC East. You may have placed a bet on the 2020 Cowboys to win the NFC East and perhaps make a deep run into the playoffs.
They hired a former Super Bowl-winning coach in Mike McCarthy. They had a phenomenal quarterback in Dak Prescott, signed several key defensive players, and boasted arguably the greatest trio of wide receivers in football. Not to mention their stellar offensive line and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Fast-forward to mid-season. Prescott’s out for the season. Both starting tackles are on injured reserve. Their former center, one of the best in football, retired. They since released two defensive tackles slated to start.
It relegated cowboys fans and those who bet on the team to go deep into the playoffs to watching the likes of Garrett Gilbert, Andy Dalton, and Ben DiNucci struggle to get anything done offensively.
2 – Abrupt Roster Changes
Abrupt roster changes can sink a team. They can also launch a team into the stratosphere. Such as the case with the Miami Dolphins turning to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to start in favor of former-incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But other abrupt changes, such as starting a rookie who isn’t ready to play or a younger player over a seasoned veteran can sink a team. And your bet if you took the chance.
You may say this kind of stuff makes little sense. And you’re right; it doesn’t. However, you can think of plenty of teams who make roster moves that make absolutely zero sense.
The 2014 Cleveland Browns could teach us a lesson here when they benched quarterback Brian Hoyer for Johnny Manziel after Hoyer had one bad outing. Much of the decision-making came from impulsive owner Jimmy Haslam, whom it was rumored had the ultimate final say in the drafting of Manziel.
So, abrupt roster changes can change the course of an entire season. Especially if you placed a bet on a young football team or a team that may find itself plagued in a potential quarterback controversy.
But there is perhaps something more abrupt that can also occur both during the season and even in the off-season. Let’s talk about it.
3 – Abrupt Coaching Changes
Abrupt coaching changes can also hurt a team.
Let’s look at the Dallas Cowboys once more. The Cowboys, as we can all agree, have a starting roster that can hang with the best NFL teams. They also had a decent coach in Jason Garrett.
You know what happened.
Owner Jerry Jones fired Garrett and brought in Mike McCarthy, whose culture the team appears to be hesitant to buy into. Sure, injuries have piled up.
But even with Dak Prescott tearing up opposing defenses, the Cowboys stumbled out of the gate to a 1-3 start. And the only reason for their 1-3 start occurred because the Atlanta Falcons hands team forgot the onside kick rule that you can touch the ball after it travels at least 10 yards.
As I write this, the Cowboys are 2-7 and all but finished for the season. But they can easily find themselves at 1-8 if the Falcons didn’t find yet another dramatic way to blow a football game.
Anyway, abrupt coaching changes can affect your bet in 2 ways. They can sink a team as they did with the Cowboys. Or, they can catapult a team that didn’t buy into the previous coach’s culture. It is rare, but a team you wagered to win the division could fall victim not to their coaching change, but to a division rival’s coaching change.
Again, it’s rare. And often when a team fires a coach and hires an interim, it often implies the team will limp to the Week 17 finish line.
Other times, a general manager and head coach were thrown together; often if the team hired a head coach without the general manager’s presence. The head coach putting together a bad string of games can coax the owner into granting the general manager permission to look for another coach.
The general manager fires the coach, and the team falls apart. Especially if the interim bears a different philosophy.
4 – Play Calling/Play Callers
The 2020 Arizona Cardinals could be 7-1 right now. But here they sit at 5-3 and barely clinging onto their playoff lives at the time of this writing. Poor play calling in 2 of their 3 losses could have the Cardinals instead looking down at the rest of the NFC as the top-seed halfway through the 2020 season.
But questionable play calling in Week Four against the Carolina Panthers and in Week Nine against the Miami Dolphins sank the Cardinals a half-game behind the division-leading Seattle Seahawks.
Another example can come when a head coach takes over play-calling duties from an offensive or defensive coordinator. Even if the team is leading the division and everything is going well, there is always the possibility an abrupt change in play-calling can sink your wagered team.
And it doesn’t always have to be because the play calling is poor. Perhaps the coach and coordinator were thrown together and are clashing, involved in a potential power struggle? Or, perhaps the head coach delegates the play calling to a coordinator so he can focus on the overall game?
Even with teams who are winning, the possibility of friction is always there. And sometimes it is there if a head coach kept a player from the previous staff or if the general manager intervened and insisted the current coach focus on the game rather than strictly the offense or defense.
5 – Inclement Weather
This one often involves teams who are used to playing in controlled environments or teams like the Cardinals who play out in the desert. But inclement weather can wreak havoc on these football teams, and yes, they can and will sink a team.
Especially when it’s a west coast or east coast team making a road trip or several road trips across the country. Not only is the weather a factor for these teams, but now they must worry about resetting the body clock.
Sometimes a team can get around this if their schedule permits. They will remain on the east or west coast if they have back-to-back games located there. But a change in body clock and climate will crush a team.
On the other hand, teams based in the Northeast or North may find themselves used to such weather, giving them an advantage over the warm-weather teams or those like the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions who play in cold-weather cities yet are in controlled environments.
As you can see, this is yet another situation that you just can’t control. However, you may get an idea who will have a disadvantage by studying the schedule. But remember, some teams can and will get around this while others won’t.
6 – Season-End Tanking
This one isn’t so much divisional as it is regarding the over-under win category for a team. Sometimes, a team will have both a playoff seed and the division wrapped up. Say the team is 11-4, and you bet the over on their 11.5-win spread.
However, they have the third seed in the conference playoffs locked up and the next best team in the division is 9-6. Obviously, the team isn’t going to benefit by playing their starters. At this point, it is likely they will sit and intentionally tank the game.
This can also spell disaster for teams who need that team to win to reach the playoffs. And if you placed a bet on those teams to make the playoffs, chances are, you are out of luck.
For the latter, one good example can be traced back to 2007 when the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns both finished the season at 10-6. However, the Titans held the tie-breaker and earned a trip to the playoffs.
But only because the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts sat their starters and lost the game on purpose in order to preserve their starters for the playoffs rather than risk injury in Week 17.
So, if a team you bet to earn a playoff berth doesn’t hold the tiebreaker and a team playing someone who holds the tiebreaker are facing off, keep those fingers crossed. But don’t expect to earn your money back.
There are a few factors that are just outside your control when betting on the NFL and the above are 5 of them. Sure, you can wager on teams that logistically look like the best fits to win a division, make a playoff run, and even win the conference.
But injuries, roster shakeups, coaching changes, play calling, and even the weather can wreak havoc for anyone looking to make an educated decision on who is most likely to win you money.
The best thing you can do is to focus on what you can control and if things don’t go your way because of factors out of your hands, so be it.
It’s something you just can’t predict.
What are your thoughts?
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …