As handicappers we often overcomplicate things. I do it myself. And yet I've always liked the idea of starting my handicapping with each team's chances of winning the game outright. The team that wins the game SU will most likely cover the spread, so it's not a bad way to start. A team's chances of winning SU are especially important if you like to play money lines, which I often do.
A good place to begin this examination is with each team's starting quarterback. More specifically, their won/loss record at home and on the road. It's not easy to win on the road in the NFL. The average team will win 58% of their home games and only 42% of their road games.
Below is a list of how each team's quarterback has performed in their respective Week One roles, along with their winning percentage, excluding tie games. Some of these results will be obvious, while others may come as a surprise or even an outright shock.
For instance, did you know that Cleveland's Tyrod Taylor as a higher winning percentage playing at home than Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has playing on the road? Now you do.
Atlanta at PHILADELPHIA
Matt Ryan - Road - 43-41 SU (.511)
Carson Wentz - Home - 12-2 SU (.857)
Pittsburgh at CLEVELAND
Ben Roethlisberger - Road - 67-43 SU (.609)
Tyrod Taylor - Home - 13-8 SU (.619)
San Francisco at MINNESOTA
Jimmy Garoppolo - Road - 4-0 SU (1.000)
Kirk Cousins - Home - 16-13 SU (.551)
Cincinnati at INDIANAPOLIS
Andy Dalton - Road: 28-28 SU (.500)
Andrew Luck - Home: 26-11 SU (.702)
Buffalo at BALTIMORE
A.J. McCarron - Road: 1-1 SU (.500)
Joe Flacco - Home: 60-19 SU (.759)
Jacksonville at NEW YORK GIANTS
Blake Bortles - Road: 7-25 SU (.218)
Eli Manning - Home: 60-51 SU (.540)
Tampa Bay at NEW ORLEANS
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Road: 20-39 SU (.338)
Drew Brees - Home: 83-47 SU (.638)
Houston at NEW ENGLAND
Deshaun Watson - Road: 1-2 SU (.333)
Tom Brady - Home: 128-24 (.842)
Tennessee at MIAMI
Marcus Mariota - Road: 10-13 SU (.434)
Ryan Tannehill - Home: 43-41 SU (.511)
Kansas City at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Patrick Mahomes - Road: 1-0 SU (1.000)
Philip Rivers - Home: 63-37 SU (.630)
Seattle at DENVER
Russell Wilson - Road: 30-23-1 SU (.566)
Case Keenum - Home: 12-8 SU (.600)
Dallas at CAROLINA
Dak Prescott - Road: 12-4 SU (.750)
Cam Newton - Home: 37-21 SU (.637)
Washington at ARIZONA
Alex Smith - Road: 39-40 SU (.493)
Sam Bradford - Home: 20-20 SU (.500)
Chicago at GREEN BAY
Mitch Trubisky - Road: 2-4 SU (.333)
Aaron Rodgers - Home: 60-16 SU (.789)
New York Jets at DETROIT
Josh McCown - Road: 6-26 SU (.187)
Matthew Stafford - Home: 35-28 SU (.555)
Los Angeles Rams at OAKLAND
Jared Goff - Road: 7-4 SU (.636)
Derek Carr - Home: 16-15 SU (.516)
Of course, every list is flawed, including this one. Some of the quarterbacks here have too few games under their belt to get an accurate reading, such as Patrick Mahomes with his one career start.
Others have plenty of games, but they've regressed. I don't think anyone would doubt that both Eli Manning and Joe Flacco are not the same quarterbacks that they were five years ago. They've won three Super Bowls between them, yet both are considered bottom-tier quarterbacks at this stage of their careers.
Andrew Luck has a fine home record, but nobody knows how well he'll play come Week One, not to mention if he'll even start. Apparently, he finally started throwing again just last month with some kind of pee-wee football. Well, it wasn't actually a pee-wee football, but it wasn't a regulation NFL football either. And yet the season starts in eight weeks.
I knew Blake Bortles had trouble on the road, but I didn't realize just how poor his road record was until I compiled this list. He went 4-4 on the road in the regular season last year and 1-1 in the playoffs. That means in three years from 2014-16, he won a grand total of two road games for a record of 2-20 SU.
Here are the teams that Bortles has beat on the road in the regular season and their record at the time that they played the Jaguars:
2015 Baltimore (2-6)
2016 Chicago (1-4)
2017 Houston (0-0) (Tom Savage at quarterback)
2017 Pittsburgh (3-1)
2017 Indianapolis (2-4)
2017 Cleveland (0-9)
That's not very impressive, is it? I should also mention that Jacksonville lost on the road last year to both Josh McCown of the Jets, and Blaine Gabbert of the Cardinals. Those two guys are a combined 34-84 SU as starters.
All we're talking about here is SU wins. In Jacksonville's Week One game at the New York Giants, they're laying 4 points. So they not only have to win the game, they have to win by more than 4 points. With a quarterback who is 7-25 SU on the road. Sure, they have the best defense in the league, but do you really want to lay points with them on the road?
Check out Marcus Mariota's 10-13 road record. He's laying points on the road, too. Mariota went 3-4 SU on the road last year. The three road wins came against Jacksonville (1-0), Cleveland (0-6), and Indianapolis (3-7). The wins over Cleveland and Indianapolis were each by 3 points. Mariota's team also lost to Blaine Gabbert on the road. Something about that Arizona desert.
I was considering both Jacksonville and Tennessee in Week One, but after examining this data, I'm not so sure. Most likely, I'll pass on both games.
Who do you think is going to win on the road in Week One this year?
The Wisdom of Jesse Livermore Applied to Sportsbetting
Jesse Livermore was a stock market and commodities investor in the early 20th century. He began with nothing and made several multi-million-dollar fortunes. After the stock market crash in 1929, he was worth $100 million, equal to $1.39 billion today.
Livermore had some very interesting quotes regarding investing that can be applied to sports as well as stocks.
His quotations are italicized, followed by my comments.
"To play properly requires silence and seclusion to study the situation. There's no better time to pick up small, seemingly useless clues."
Silence is indeed golden. I've won some of my biggest bets from insight that was gained very late at night or very early in the morning, while the rest of the world was asleep.
This is also why I rarely watch games at a sports book. I like to concentrate on what I'm seeing and jot down relevant notes. That's almost impossible for me to do when I'm surrounded by hundreds of screaming bettors.
"Reasonable people act unreasonably when they're afraid. And people become afraid when they lose money. Their judgement is impaired."
Don't chase losses. If you lose a bet, retreat, regroup, and reanalyze. A winning streak could be just around the corner, but you won't recognize it if you become fearful.
This is a major reason why you see lines moving in dramatic ways. When you see that happening, it's often because of fearful bettors chasing their losses.
"Keep cash in reserve. Money that's sitting can be moved into the right situation at the right time and make a fortune."
Play a small percentage of your bankroll. Don't be caught with an empty wallet when opportunity presents itself.
"Price patterns repeat, because they're driven by humans, and human nature never changes."
Pointspread patterns repeat for the same reason.
"Keep physical form to maintain mental form."
Stay in shape, exercise, and eat right. You'll find that your mind functions with better clarity.
"Your main objective is to protect yourself from unwelcome bad influences."
It's often better to keep your picks to yourself. I don't have that luxury, because of my newsletter, but you do. When you tell someone you're interested in team A, and they respond by telling you it's the wrong choice, your ability to discern fact from opinion is immediately threatened. Better to keep your opinions to yourself and win quietly.
"Wars are won on information and intelligence."
Seek good information and treasure it. You're doing that right now by visiting this website.
"Key factor in losses is not intelligent analysis, but human emotion."
Study your losses and you'll find that this is true more often than not.
"I lost when I broke my own rules."
I know this one well. When I've gone against my own systems, particularly my Smart Investor Approach system, it's almost always come back to bite me. Don't let outside opinions sway you from your own approach. Play your picks, no matter what anyone else says.
"I'm always suspicious of everything I read in the newspapers."
Turns out "fake news" was around back in the 1920s, too. Watch out for those pundits you see on network television. Their job is to produce hype that leads to ratings, not to help you win a bet.
"Your number one enemy is uncontrolled emotions."
Rely on facts and logic to make your picks. Don't let your personal feelings for a team or a player sway your mind when it comes to betting.
Football is coming. Have some fun, make some money, and thank God for all the blessings in your life!
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