By Ray Monohan
There are a lot of handicappers who just look at a game, factor in the stats and make a prediction. As a matter of fact, betting systems do basically that and nothing else. Sure, that works many times but it doesn’t take into account the intangible factor of emotions. There are a number of ways that teams can get emotionally charged up for a contest and spring an upset even though the stats point in the completely opposite direction.
We’re going to look at several important emotional dynamics that come into play in handicapping that we recommend you take into account.
Neighbor, Rivalry and Divisional Games
Of course, rivalry games are going to get a lot of attention. ESPN now has a featured “Rivalry Week” when it comes to college sports and it can sometimes extend to two weeks. This also includes divisional games in professional sports and when two teams that have a long-standing or heated rivalry get together, games generally tend to be pretty close, so you can potentially make some money off betting on the underdog to cover. But on the other end, a team coming off a rivalry game may have used a lot of emotion and could wear out in their next game, which means they could have a tough time finding the energy and motivation to come up with a victory.
Let Down Situations
Then you have teams that have a big game coming up, but first they have to get past a team that is not even close to their talent level. Teams look past lower teams all the time and that can sometimes get them into big trouble, which means you can benefit from it in your sportsbook. Don’t forget to look at a team’s future schedule when you’re making the decision whether or not to wager on them in a particular game. The past schedule can play a role in your choice as well, because if a team is coming off a vicious beatdown, they’ll want to step up in their next game.
Finally, keep an eye on any major issues with a team, for example, playing for something larger than the game. The Indianapolis Colts are a prime example of this as they were coming off a 2-14 season, playing with a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck and were generally an afterthought going into the campaign. They ended up making the playoffs with an 11-5 record and more impressively, they had the same record when it came to covering the spread and a huge inspiration was the cancer battle of head coach Chuck Pagano. This was a running theme throughout the regular season and the Colts battled for 60 minutes every single game, which put them in the good books of a lot of bettors.
Back in the day, you would just look at the players in the lineup and make your decision from there but nowadays you have to go a little further into making your picks and checking on the emotions surrounding a matchup in any sport, on any level, can net you a few extra bucks. Don’t discount the effect of emotions on a sports betting decision; you can get a leg up on the competition.