NFL Betting Impact of the End of the Lockout
by Trevor Whenham - 7/20/2011
I don’t want to jinx anything, but it finally seems like the NFL Lockout madness is coming to an end, and things are going to return pretty much to normal. Ultimately, in the grand scale of things, the impact of this lockout hasn’t been that significant -- no games lost, a mostly normal training camp and preseason, and the draft and free agency still happened. In the short term, though, there is going to be a pretty significant impact for NFL handicappers, and it is going to take a while to sort it all out.
Here are three things you’ll have to consider between now and the start of the NFL season:
What do coaching staffs have to overcome? - There isn’t a coaching staff out there that is happy with what they have had to deal with this summer. By now they would have liked to have spent many hours working with their players. They would be sure that they are on a good physical program. They would have their playbook installed. They would have had a chance to look at the new players they have to see how they fit in, and they would have a good sense of the holes that they need to fill. This year they have been unable to do any of that.
Thanks to the brief respite in the lockout the players have their playbooks, but that is it. All coaches are way behind, but some are going to be far better suited to handle that than others this year. Coaches who have been with a team for a while will be in better shape than one who is new to his squad. Coaches who are working with the same coordinators and position coaches will be happier than those who have new assistants -- especially if those assistants brought new schemes with them.
Teams with a lot of young players in key positions -- especially young quarterbacks -- will be in rough shape compared to teams with wily veterans leading the way.
It will be crucial between now and the start of the season to accurately assess what a coaching staff is facing, and how well they are handling those challenges. It will be particularly significant this year because the new CBA limits the number of training camp practices teams can have and basically ends meaningful two-a-days. That means that teams with a lot of work to do will be even more handicapped in their ability to do it.
Free agency frenzy - There is going to be an absolute feeding frenzy surrounding free agents, and some of the key trade targets like Kevin Kolb. A lot of teams are left with big holes, and the short time frame is going to put them in panic mode as they attempt to fill them.
When there are this many teams trying to do so much in a short time there is inevitably going to be a lot of overpaying being done -- especially at positions where there isn’t enough talent to satisfy the needs.
As soon as the dust starts to settle it will be very important to look at what has happened. Now we have to do that quickly instead of taking all summer like we do most years. Which teams have been able to fill their needs effectively? Which teams have paid too much for too little? Which teams were unable to effectively address clear needs? What does the free agent and trading action of teams say about their attitude and their outlook on the season? Which players are going to be left highly motivated by free agency, and which will likely be pouting?
Teams have a couple of months to deal with free agents most years, and they still make frequent horrible mistakes. Imagine what a mess they can make of things when the whole process is condensed into a week. Agents are going to be in a position of power, and everyone knows it.
What is the public going to panic about? - This is going to be a very big factor this year. Given all of the uncertainty, the media coverage, and the general hunger for football action, there is going to be a whole lot of speculation and countless wild theories out there. The truth is that a lot of things won’t be nearly as big of a deal as people will assume them to be.
There is a lot out there that the public can panic about, and that is going to have an impact on NFL point spreads and futures odds. Oddsmakers will be thinking hard about what there is to panic about as well, and they will be setting lines to exploit that whenever you can.
Handicappers always want to be thinking about what the public is likely to think and what that means, but that has never been as important as it is now.
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