Avoiding the Red Zone: NFL Week 17 Wagers and Yearly Recap

By Dan Urda

In his final regular season column of 2013, Dan Urda espouses the value of tracking your bets.

In his final regular season column of 2013, Dan Urda espouses the value of tracking your bets.

Week 16 Record: 1-2

NFL Record Year-to-Date: 39-21-3 (65.0%)

Pre-season Futures: 2-0

Last week I lost two of my three teasers, thanks to the Seahawks ending a two-year home winning streak, and special thanks to Marcel Reece dropping a pass that was in his hands with about a minute left in the Oak/SD game that would have sent that teased total over. Hey Marcel, this is for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPZuYwYxnL4

The good news is that last week sealed the wins for my two pre-season future bets, the Oakland under of 5.5, and the “yes, Cincy will make the playoffs” wager. I won’t be counting them in with my regular wagers since they were listed as monetary bets, but its some nice extra change.

Moving on, Week 17 is always unpredictable. There are a handful of teams who are playing for something, and they are usually inconsistent teams or else they wouldn’t be playing for something, they’d have something locked up. As for the rest of the teams, the teams that are set in the playoffs are hard to judge from a motivational angle, and the teams that are set out of the playoffs are hard to judge from a “do they even care about being on the field?” angle.  So we are going to take it easy this week.

Part of me wants to stop now and end the season with a 65% clip even. But I am a stickler for even numbers, thanks to a mild case of OCD, so there will be one more play that will hopefully get me to the big 4-0 in wins on the year. The final play is a teaser and it can be seen at the end of this column. For now, I am going to break down my record into different  categories as part of a 2013 regular season recap.

Home Teams: 17-5-1

Home Underdogs: 9-0-1

Home Favorites: 7-5

Road Teams: 7-5-1

Road Underdogs: 2-0-1

Road Favorites: 5-4

Overs: 7-4-1

2-team Teasers: 4-0

3-team Teasers: 3-5

3-team Moneyline Parlay: 1-0

It is important to keep track of stuff like this if you want to be a serious bettor. You should have a spreadsheet for every sport you bet, and every play should be tracked. First, that is the best way to help you get rid of bad habits and bet games on a whim or just because you want action. Tracking your plays will make it glaringly obvious if you are doing that and show you that you need to stop.  It is also important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.  Some people are just better at certain aspects of betting. Some people are totals phenoms, some people are good at betting favorites, some people are good at seeing underdogs, etc. 

Most importantly, spreadsheets don’t lie. Everyone wants to say that they can make money betting, but if that was the case, books would not be raking in the cash like they do. Sometimes it’s important to admit that you are not good at capping a certain sport. In that case, if you really want to bet you can tail a proven handicapper in that sport, or just refrain from what could very well be a losing endeavor. It hit me hard last summer when I started tracking my baseball bets. I just assumed I was a winner because I have been a baseball fanatic since I was young and know the ins and outs of the game like the back of my hand. As it turns out, I was devastatingly bad at betting baseball, and I was unable to keep up with the solid handicappers who were able to win in the long run. So I did what I had to do, and quit. It sucked not having action throughout the summer, and it sucked coming to terms with the fact that I sucked at something I enjoyed, but in the long run, I saved myself a lot of money.

So, bottom line; tracking your bets is a must. This year I learned that I was able to recognize home field advantage very well. Not all teams have a home advantage like the Saints or Seahawks, but there are plenty of spots when the HFA comes into play, and the road teams may be tired from travel. I seem to be good at noticing that. At the same time, i am not nearly as proficient at the 3-team, 10-point teaser as I thought I was. (Editor’s Note: I love how Cousin Sal describes these on Grantland, ‘you can go five out of six on two teasers and still lose vig money, which is absolutely insane when you think about it.’). These are things you learn over the course of the season, and it is important to act on them.

There will be one final play for this regular season, and I am depressed just typing that. Don’t get me wrong, NFL playoffs are amazing, but at the same time, there is nothing quite like waking up on a Sunday, handicapping prop bets, indulging in 12 games spanning about 12 hours straight, and passing out just as the late game ends. I love it, and for the past four months, I’ve been living for it. Playoffs are great, but nothing beats the filled Sundays.

Now what I am about to do makes me a huge hypocrite, and I am aware of that, but the final play of the season will be a 3-team 10-point teaser. I don’t think my 3-5 record on them is bad enough to swear off of them completely, as well as it being a small sample size, and I absolutely love the following:

Patriots +1/Saints-3/Seahawks pk

The Patriots are 24-2 in their last 26 against the Bills. That’s enough for me. And then you have the two teams who are dominant at home going up against opponents whose season is over. The Saints need to win big time or they could blow their playoff spot. I will bet against Brees and Co allowing such an epic collapse to occur on their turf. Seattle will right their ship as well, and I can’t see them going two years without a home loss and then losing two in a row going into the playoffs. They are too good for that.  St. Louis has been somewhat competent lately, but that is mostly due to their running game and Zac Stacy, which will be negated by Seattle’s tough defense at home.

Thats it, I will be back with a playoff column and possibly a podcast, but it won’t be as awesome as this. Thanks for reading the crap I have to say every week, and I hope I’ve fattened your wallets a little in return. One more thing: Go Eagles!

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