Hello, NFL fans. My name is Andrew, and I enjoy gambling on football. Chances are, you do, too. With the NFL season right around the corner, you're probably considering your preseason prop bets, over-unders and Super Bowl futures. Now, I'm not here to tell you who's going to win or how to make the most money. What I can tell you, however, is which bets you'll make this summer that will come back to bite you before the season is over. Avoid these wagers, and your 2016 campaign will certainly be more successful than the Cleveland Browns'. (All lines courtesy of Bovada.lv as of 12:00 PM ET on July 28.)
Patriots under 10.5 wins (+125)
While recently in Las Vegas to work on a feature about the Oakland Raiders, I ducked into the biggest sportsbooks on the Strip. What I learned there wasn't surprising. There are a number of football fans anxious to bet against Tom Brady's team this year, since he's facing a four-game suspension. Finally, New England will get its comeuppance -- or so the logic went, anyway. Don't let your emotions get the better of you; that 10.5 number is way too low. The Pats will be just fine during Brady's absence. And when he comes back, suddenly you're faced with a pissed-off Brady looking to destroy everyone in his path. By Week 14, you'll have realized that this Pats team is winning at least 11 games, if not more. On the other hand...
Getty ImagesSpencer Platt
Patriots to win the Super Bowl (+600)
Sure, the Patriots will hit the over on their 2016 win total. That doesn't mean you should ride them to Super Bowl glory, however. In the nine seasons for which we have easily accessible data, no preseason Super Bowl favorite has won the title -- and New England is the odds-on favorite at the time of this writing. If you're looking for value, check out the next tier of favorites. In those same nine seasons, the champion has tended to open the season between +800 and +1800. This year, that would include the Packers (+850), Seahawks (+900), Steelers, Panthers, Cardinals (all +1200), Vikings (+1600), Broncos, Bengals and Cowboys (all+1800).
Any big underdog (+3000 or worse) to win the Super Bowl
Thinking about making a small bet on a team like the Bears (+5000), Redskins (+5000) or Eagles (+6600), just for the heck of it? You might want to think again. In the past nine seasons, the biggest preseason underdog to win the Super Bowl opened at +3000. It's true that the 1999 Rams were +20000 before the season started and won the championship, which might give you hope. The fact of the matter, however, is that sportsbooks have become way more sophisticated over the past decade. Catching Vegas sleeping with a huge Super Bowl underdog is a longshot bet in itself.
Von Miller to win MVP (+15000)
Ooooooh, boy. This one is extraordinarily tempting. Miller has emerged as one of the best defensive players in football. And Denver's offensive situation could spell plenty of time on the field for Miller, and that in turn gives him opportunity to pad his stats. At 150:1, why not take a flyer on Miller? Unfortunately, history is stacked against you and the Broncos DE. It's been 30 years since Lawrence Taylor became the last defensive player to win an MVP award. And of course, there's a chance that Miller takes a slight step back this year after signing his new deal, if only because he's slightly less motivated. That's human nature.
Getty ImagesPatrick Smith
Cleveland Browns to miss the playoffs (-1000)
Wait, what? *record scratch* I promise, this isn't what it looks like. The Browns aren't making the playoffs; if you want to make this bet, fine. It's more or less free money. But you're paying a pretty hefty price to cash in on Cleveland's ineptitude. You're much better off placing your Browns-based wager on their season win total of 4.5. Cleveland's not winning five games this year; looking at their schedule, it's hard to see where the Browns win even two, frankly. The under comes in at a line of -115. Bet $100 on the Browns to miss the playoffs, and you'll pocket an additional $10. Make that same bet on Cleveland under 4.5 wins, and you pocket $87. Math is your friend.
Trying to hedge on your favorite team
This is the worst gambling advice you can receive, short of being told to bet on actual losers. There are some oldheads who say that if you're going to bet on your favorite team, take the under on their season win total. That way, if you're wrong, you're happy because the team did well -- and if you're right, you at least get paid for your emotional trauma. Nonsense! There's every chance your favorite team surpasses its win total yet falls short of the postseason. Then where are you? You've lost money, you rooted for a loser, and you have to watch your friends pocket their winnings for making smarter bets. Don't be that person. Be the person swimming in winning tickets. Everyone likes that person.