NFL Europa Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 06/01/2007
How much do you know about NFL Europa? If you're like most people, probably not very much. I'll do a bit to change that here, but really there are only two things that matter - it's football and you can bet on it. What else do you need? It's a spring league, so if Arena Football doesn't do it for you then it can fill the football dead zone before college and the pros get going again reasonably well. And also, NFL Europa betting can be profitable because oddsmakers tend to set weak lines for the sport.
The NFL Europa name is new as of last year. Before that it was called NFL Europe since 1997. The roots of the league were originally formed in 1991 as the World League of American Football, complete with three European teams, one from Canada and six American squads. You do remember the great Ohio Glory, don't you? How about the Sacramento Surge? Needless to say it didn't work in North America. The WLAF died after two years and there was no football in Europe until 1995 when NFL Europe started up again. Now it could be called the NFL mostly-Germany, because five of the six teams - Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Rhein - are in Germany. The sixth is in Amsterdam. The teams play 10 games a year - a home-and-home with each squad. The top two teams after the season play in the World Bowl. The games are not held on consistent days, but always fall somewhere between Friday and Sunday.
Though the teams are owned by local interests, the league wouldn't exist without the support of the NFL. The league handles all of the salaries and expenses for any players or coaches that they assign to the league for further development. That makes up the largest part of the league - German college football isn't that strong, after all. Those players would make up all of both teams if it weren't for the national player rule. Both teams have to have at least one non-American on the field for every down. Though top young stars obviously don't end up in Europe - Reggie Bush hasn't spent much time in Germany this Spring - you can find several familiar names if you take a quick glance at any of the rosters.
Before you jump in and bet on the league, you need to be familiar with the differences between it and other leagues. NFL Europa and its predecessors have been used to test some different rules in the past. The two-point convert, for example, was used in the WLAF before coming to the NFL in 1994. Some other Europa rules haven't crossed the ocean yet. Overtime is 10 minutes long, and if one team scores on their first try then the other team gets a possession. That makes so much sense that the NFL will never adopt it. More significantly, teams are awarded four points for a field goal of more than 50 yards. Though not that common, it is possible, since most of the kickers in the league are former European soccer or rugby players with powerful legs.
Betting on the league is pretty much the same as any other football, though the variety obviously isn't available here like it is in the bigger leagues. You can reliably find spreads and full game totals, but anything else is much harder to locate. Despite the lack of variety, there are at least three good reasons that you may want to consider NFL Europa betting.
1. It's small - Though six teams may not make the league a spectator's dream, it is great for handicapping. With so few teams it's relatively easy to stay on top of the rosters and their strengths and weaknesses without having to quit your job to find the top. Stats aren't super easy to find, but they are out there, and the league provides a very good weekly statistical summary. As an extra bonus, every game is shown on the NFL Network either live or on tape, so you can keep up on what's going on even if you can't find Germany on a map. If you put your homework in there is no reason you should be caught off guard by anything in this league that you might be when dealing with larger leagues.
2. Familiar players - If you're a college football addict then you will be familiar with a good portion of the lineups of most teams. The more you watched these guys before they were pros, the more of an edge you can get. It doesn't make as much of a difference in the NFL when every player was at least solid in college, but in this unique league you can be ahead of the pack if you know what players can do before things get going. This is especially important because a lot of players aren't in the league for a long time, so the turnover is huge every year. In the absence of long-established chemistry, the tools a guy brings to the table are even more important.
3. It gets very little action - You might know one or two guys who bet on the league, but you don't know many. The league certainly doesn't get anywhere near the action of it's parent league, or even Arena Football for that matter. That means that it also won't get as much attention when it comes to setting lines. If you have done your work then it is far more likely that you will find a soft line here than you will in the more popular leagues. As importantly, any soft lines that do appear will last longer than they would in the NFL because there won't be as much sharp money waiting to pounce on vulnerabilities.