There is a point in time in every season when a team needs to win a game or more to qualify for post-season inclusion. The media easily identifies these situations. The public, in turn, feels they have found a Bonanza. How should you bet?
They think to themselves… “This is great. Team X will certainly win this contest because they NEED to win it.” All other aspects of their handicapping fly by the wayside. All fundamental matchups are ignored, statistics fly out the window and technical and historical trends are deemed to be meaningless in the face of the fact that “OUR TEAM NEEDS TO WIN.” It simply isn't that easy!
Worst of all, the linemaker knows what you are thinking. Much of the time, he has already anticipated the public's move and impacted the betting line by several points for your anticipated action. In short, he has set a public trap, knowing that you are all too eager to get the worst of the number, because all that matters is “this team NEEDS to win.” Two of the negative scenarios that happen include diverse roles of the teams playing with need.
First of all, every team playing with need is susceptible to more mental, emotional and psychological pressure. Anyone who has played sports understands that you play your best only when you are intense but relaxed.Unfortunately for our team with need, that is often the way in which the opponent approaches the game, giving the opponent a built-in advantage. But, let's get back to the roles and what happens to a team in each.
If our team is FAVORED in the game, they are not looking to cover the spread to cash your bet. Remember, they only need to win the game outright, not by a specific pointspread. Teams in this scenario often play “not to lose” in the 2nd half of a game. A great example of this is the Carolina Panthers each of the last 2 weeks. Following a 1-5 SU start to the season, this team has played “tight” each of the last 2 weeks, blowing a pair of 17 point 2nd half leads, while going 1-1 SU, 0-1-1 ATS, playing in fear of a loss. If you watch these games, you can literally see a team playing “not to lose” rather than playing to win.
The second scenario is if our team appears in the UNDERDOG ROLE. Often the team with need plays with great passion and emotion in the beginning of the game. Should it, however, become evident that they may lose the game outright, they begin taking inordinate risks to win the game straight up, WITH NO REGARD TO YOUR UNDERDOG POINTSPREAD BET. Many “dogs with need” lose your money to a front door cover with late game TOs or impractical risks that result in poor field position and a front door cover by the favorite.
As sports bettors, how do we prevent ourselves from falling into this trap? We do this by handicapping every game in search of value and by returning to the methodology that has brought us success over the years, namely through a blend of fundamental, statistical, situational and technical handicapping. And, remember to always search for value.
So, before you blindly bet on every 5-6 SU CFB team this week in dire NEED of that all-important 6th win for Bowl inclusion, take a big step back, knowing that often times “these teams with NEED will BLEED” with your money.