Football Betting: How You May Want to Look at Injuries
I can’t think of any reason the NFL and now the XFL publishes injury reports other than to create a level playing field to accommodate people betting on their games. After all, why would anyone else really be interested in whether a player was “doubtful” or “questionable” for an upcoming game? Please note: injury reports pre-date the fantasy sports explosion by quite a bit? Almost anyone who is listed as questionable is going to play, while players who are doubtful are about a 50-50 proposition. If a player is “probable” it is not only probable but almost definite that they are going to be in action.
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Tactics NFL Teams Use During Sports Injuries
Of course, some players are “out”, and they’re absolutely not going to play on the weekend. So what does all of that mean to someone betting on the football games? We’re sure that customers at BetAnySports would love to know a little more about this. Well, just take a look down the list of leaders in passing, rushing and receiving from any given week. You’re likely to find some people you hadn’t really heard of before.
And you will notice that many of them were substituting for injured players. This is the kind of thing that happens all the time. And it’s something to consider when handicapping games in relation to injuries. It’s not that certain injuries don’t mean anything; it’s that some look much more detrimental to a team on the surface than they really are.
What you have to remember is that this is the NFL – all the guys at this level can play, or else they wouldn’t be there. And there is not such a dramatic drop-off in talent at the skill positions like running back and wide receiver. Largely what they are able to accomplish is a function of the level of efficiency other components of the offense are able to achieve. Often a team can plug another player into the situation and get results, as long as those other components (which we’ll discuss) are working.
And a deft coaching staff can adjust the game plan to highlight the strengths and hide the weaknesses of the new player coming in, which is just a variation of what they did to accommodate the starter in the first place. An take into account, as well, that an upcoming opponent does not have as much material through which to prepare for the insertion of a substitute starter either, so a lot of what they are going to have to do involves guesswork.
The effect of the absence of certain skill position players is something that is overrated by bettors all the time, and because of that, oddsmakers adjust their lines accordingly. But you’ll find this to be an over-reaction on the part of the public more often than not.
I will concede that the absence of a star quarterback or running back can prove to be an exception to all of this because one must be realistic in recognizing that the Green Bay Packers’ offense would not be nearly as efficient without Aaron Rodgers, and the Tennessee Titans’ offense would not operate at its full capacity without Derick Henry. But as I mentioned, teams do not roll over and play dead when these kinds of things happen; they change on the fly and make adjustments.
Also, don’t underestimate that there could be a player with quite a bit of ability sitting behind that star player. We know Carson Wentz today as one of the NFL’s most formidable quarterbacks, but Nick Foles got his opportunity to be a Super Bowl hero when Wentz went down with an injury. When Kareen Hunt was let go by the Kansas City Chiefs, Damian Williams, a Miami castoff, stepped in and eventually spearheaded the running game, eventually becoming a big star of Super Bowl 54. We can see that two quarterbacks who stepped in for a former #1 overall draft choice, Drew Bledsoe – Tom Brady (New England) and later Tony Romo (Dallas) – elevated the overall level of play for their teams.
I wouldn’t get too freaky about injuries to outstanding skill-position players unless it was generally known that the sub could not get the job done in the NFL. And in cases like that, the player wouldn’t stay around for too long anyway. And if you get some stroke a genius to jump on the opposite side when a team has a big injury, don’t forget that the oddsmaker has already made an adjustment to his line in accordance with that injury. Playing “with” the injury – in the NFL anyway – is frequently a smart strategy.
Now let me warn you about injuries that actually DO mean something, and that the public often does not recognize:
You ever notice that you see running backs and wide receivers shuffled in and out of the lineup from play to play, but that doesn’t necessarily happen in the case of the offensive line? That’s because these guys are the bedrock of any offense. As such, there can be a tremendous drop-off from the first team to the second team at the interior positions. The offensive line is very important. If you don’t believe me, just tune in to ESPN on draft day. You can see how high the top offensive tackles are taken, especially the left tackles, who take care of the quarterback’s blindside.
World-class offensive linemen are very hard to replace. The cohesion that is required among the offensive linemen is vastly under-rated. They make a lot of things work – opening holes for the tailback to run through, and protecting the passer, for example. You know, most quarterbacks, if you give them enough time, can pick any team apart. The offensive line allows for it.
We’re not necessarily always talking about the cornerbacks who could normally find themselves assigned to the opposition #1 or #2 receiver in one-on-one coverage. The thing about playing in the defensive backfield is that one mistake can easily be converted into a touchdown for the opposition. If someone is deficient, there’s only so much you can do to disguise it in the defensive backfield. When there are injuries back there, teams look for the weakest link and exploit it. And any of their receivers are capable of doing it.
The guys who are truly unique in rushing the passer, whether they be defensive ends or linebackers, are not in abundance, so when one of them is missing from a lineup that places more pressure on the secondary. The San Francisco 49ers had a lot of success getting pressure with four pass rushers in the 2019 season, but they really stepped things up when Dee Ford, who was previously injured, got healthy.
Injuries to non-starters often affect special teams. Keep an eye on long-snappers; these guys get paid well because you can’t stick just anyone in there. Again, a mistake means, at the very least, a big change in field position for the other side. The “gunners” who take the lead on punt coverage are very important as well. Get to know who these players are. And the kick holder often has a certain level of rhythm and trust with the kicker that might not exist with someone who has to come in as a substitute. As for kickers, that’s hard to say, because most kickers these days can make most kicks. But remember, between all the special teams’ plays that take place in a game, you’re looking at about 20-30 plays in all. So injuries to key players on these units can indeed make a difference.
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