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Tips for Handicapping Hyped Teams

No matter what sports you like to bet on, one thing that you are going to run into time and again is hype.  There are certain teams that get talked up not only by sports analysts, but by the media and the betting public.  There are all kinds of reasons that teams get hyped.  Sometimes they really are as good as everyone believes.  Other times, they had a lot of factors playing to their advantage that aren’t necessarily going to be present in the future.  Still other times, there is a human interest story, profit motive, or some other issue unrelated to actual skill which is playing into the mix.


How can you handicap these teams appropriately?  The trick is always to get the team into perspective.  Try to see past the hype and take a look at their actual performance.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Who have they actually played against?  A strong start against a lot of really solid teams is a lot different than a strong start against a lot of weak teams!  And remember, a team can be weak for more than one reason.  Maybe the opponent they faced is tough at home and thus has a strong reputation, but is weak on the road.  Go in-depth with your analysis to find out what is really going on.
  • Looking even deeper into recent games, did the team face off against opponents they were well matched again?  For example, two strong teams could meet, but one team may be particularly strong in a department where the other team is weak.  If a team that passes a lot faces a team with a poor pass rush in the NFL, for example, they may have a particular advantage that turns the game in their favour.
  • Is there a human interest story compelling the public to pay attention?  For example, is there one particular player who is a star athlete this year who everyone is watching closely, like a top draft pick, or someone who has just come back strong from a long break or weak period?  If so, it is important to remember that one player can make a huge difference for a team, but cannot carry the team on his own. 
  • What did they do last year?  While on occasion a team goes from being at the bottom of the league to being at the top of their game, it doesn’t happen very often.  If you see a few strong wins at the start of the season, it may be indicative of great things to come, but it is probably a fluke.  Either way, the media will usually seize on it and talk up the team to no end.
  • Is there anything else which may be creating a bias in the media?  Remember, there are a lot of reasons why people may get behind teams.  Sports reporters may have a geographical prejudice toward a particular team, or some other motivation which has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. 


Your goal as a punter is always to frame a team with proper objective analysis, and from there gauge what is likely in the future.  Hype is alluring in part because it is easy to believe in, and part because it is fun to believe in.  But what’s more fun by far is winning money!  So don’t let hype suck you in, and never take it for granted that a certain team is going to meet the high expectations the public has set for it.  Sometimes the hype is right, sometimes it is wrong.  Your job is to figure out which is which.



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