The NFL produces as many statistics as any major sport, and these stats are useful to smart sports bettors from season to season.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start preparing for the NFL season as early as you can.

Basic Preparation

Most sports bettors think about accumulating all of the statistics that they possibly can when getting ready for the next season.

This is the best way to start.

Team statistics aren’t as important as individual player stats because players move from team to team through trades and free agency.

During the off season you should gather every statistic that you can find. During the season you only have time to do a certain number of things, but during the off season you can take the time to find new areas that will help you pick more winners. Try to take a fresh look at all of the stats before ignoring them.

One area where you can gain an advantage is by tracking the offensive and defensive statistics of units coached by particular coaches. This is usually best done with offensive and defensive coordinators, but other coaches on the staff do play into the results. Head coaches have trends, but they usually have less to do with the nuts and bolts than the actual coordinators.

How many sports bettors do you think track statistics based on coordinators or other coaches? My guess is far less than 10%, and probably less than 5%. This is exactly the type of thing that will help you be one of the few winners over the long haul.

It’s always important to use and analyze as many statistics as you can, but using tools to do the analysis is something that is often overlooked. Using the correct tool can greatly reduce your preparation time.

What’s the best tool?

Using a spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel, can save you a great deal of time when using all of the data you accumulate. Spreadsheets not only provide a good framework to store things, you can also use them to complete mathematical formulas. You can quickly sort any column of numbers to help you make good betting decisions.

An example of using the power of a spreadsheet program is when you have the total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, points allowed, total yards gained, rushing yards and passing yards in your spreadsheet sorted by team. You can sort each of these items from highest to lowest or lowest to highest and quickly see where each team is ranked.

You don’t have to use a paid spreadsheet like Excel. As long as you take the time to learn how to use the program you can use a free application like Open Office just as easily.

Here are some ways to learn how to use your spreadsheet program of choice:

• You can take a class at a local college or at an online school. This is probably the most in depth way, but it may also take the longest.
• The way that helps me learn the best, but also can be difficult, is to just start using the program and learn as I need to add something new. YouTube and other places that offer online tutorials and instructions are helpful when you use this method.
• Find a local tutor to help you. This is one of those times when finding a younger tutor may be better than finding an older one. Younger people tend to work better with software programs than older ones.

Pre-Season Games

Pre-season games are some of the hardest games to use when trying to predict regular season performance. The playing differences are so extreme that many sports bettors ignore everything from the pre-season games except injuries.

The exception is when I’m considering the upcoming impact that aging players will have on their teams. In the NFL, age can quickly end a player’s career and / or usefulness. By closely watching them during the pre-season you can often gather clues to how they will perform in the upcoming season. You can’t gain much by just looking at pre-season stats; you actually have to watch the games.

Back Testing

Back testing is when you come up with a new theory or betting tactic and test it on games from previous seasons. It’s a great way to get an idea if new strategies may work and the time to do this is during the off season.

From a mathematical standpoint, you have to be careful making decisions based only on back testing. Just because something you back test looks like it is useful based on the last season or two, you can  never be 100% sure until you start using it from week to week in a live season.

Things change from season to season, including rules that change the actual NFL games and how sports books set their lines. Don’t make the mistake of automatically assuming a back tested method actually works until you try it with money on the line.

The good news is there are probably no new methods that you can find to solely base your betting decisions on, so any back testing you do will just be a part of your overall strategy. It is always good to find new tactics to add to your existing systems.

Conclusion

Once the NFL season starts things tend to get hectic, reducing your ability to add new ways to pick winning teams. Utilize the off season to expand your wagering tactics and test new theories by back testing.

If you haven’t already done so, learn how to use a spreadsheet program. I guarantee it will help you become a better sports bettor.

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