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August 10th, 2022
3 NFL In-Game Bets to Make This Season
By Dan Koob
In-game sports betting has become one of the most important aspects of the sports betting experience and has given life to something known as micro-betting.
It’s a simple concept. Similar to what a day trader might do in the capital markets, a micro-bet is just a bet designed to help you ground out a little profit over a short amount of time.
The same exact thing can be said for a day trader. Buy low, sell high, move on.
Sporttrade was built for micro-trading.
Think trading a quarter, an offensive drive or the last two minutes of a game in the hopes of grabbing some quick profit.
I’ve been thinking about different ways we can do this on Sporttrade to truly showcase the power of liquid markets and the ability to move in and out of your positions without friction. It got me thinking about Bill Belichick.
A 2018 book from NFL writer Michael Lombardi entitled Gridiron Genius unearthed an interesting anecdote about how the 6-time Super Bowl Champion develops gameplans. In it, Belichick discusses a critical stretch of a 60-minute football game; the last four minutes of the 2nd quarter and the first four minutes of the 3rd quarter.
The “Middle 8”.
The gist of this theory is a team can either utilize multiple scoring opportunities around halftime to bury their opponent or simply control the ball heading into the locker rooms, destroying an opposing offense's rhythm in the process. Lombardi believes this strategy was key in helping the Patriots topple the Peyton Manning-led Colts in the AFC Playoffs throughout the 2000s.
This idea has some factual horsepower to it, providing a strong correlation between winning the Middle 8 to winning games outright. A 2019 study of the Middle 8 in college football by SportSource Analytics showed Power 5 teams who won those minutes ended up winning their games at a 76% clip over a 5 year sample period.
Say you wanted to micro-trade the Middle 8, how would you know who the best teams are within that time frame?
For whatever reason, the NFL lacks any comprehensive data in this regard.
I went through all 272 regular season NFL games from the 2021 season in order to find out which teams compiled the best Middle 8 point differential. Simply, how many points did they score vs how many points did they allow within that time frame last season? Who can we try to predict will handle those minutes professionally and which teams melt down faster than a Ben Simmons free throw attempt?
The results will surprise you.
Make all the jokes you want about their annual postseason exits, but the Dallas Cowboys know how to work the Middle 8. They were far and away the best team in the NFL last season with a +56 point differential, including 10 games with a positive score and only 3 negative.
The rest of the top 5:
2. Rams: +47
T3. 49ers: +44
T3. Browns: +44
T3. Bucs: +44
And for bottom 5:
T29. Vikings: -46
T29. Dolphins: -46
30. Lions: -54
31. Giants: -66
32. Steelers: -67
17 of 32 teams had a positive point differential. The top 11 teams with a +20 differential or better combined to go 119-68 in 2021.
So, great. You’re telling me teams that score more than other teams are more successful? Yes. Obviously. But the strong correlation between winning the Middle 8 and the game can help pinpoint the areas and situations in which certain teams are flat out better than others.
Of course, this stat isn’t an end all be all. There’s nuance not reflected here in this graph, like overturn in offensive personnel and coaching staffs. Our top team, the Cowboys, are the number one offender. They lost Amari Cooper this offseason, won’t have Michael Gallop to begin the year and just lost James Washington, severely hurting their offensive options. San Francisco has a new quarterback. The Browns may have a backup QB playing for the first 6 weeks.They are regression candidates. But the teams that return most of their units intact have demonstrated their effectiveness in the Middle 8.
So how does this help with bets on Sporttrade?
If a team with the ball within the final four minutes of the first half has shown an ability to win the Middle 8, buy them to win. If that same team is also getting the ball out of halftime, you should definitely be buying them to win. They could either score points, leading to an increase in value or keep an opposing offense off the field - meaning their value is likely to increase as well. Both scenarios allow you to micro-trade the outcome and profit.
Take the Bengals (+40) and the Steelers (-67) for example, who are known to play each other quite frequently. The Bengals established themselves as one of the best Middle 8 teams under Joe Burrow last season and were +14 against the Steelers in two meetings (not surprising, two wins). Cincy is a team I’m circling to continue this trend, having had 10 games in the + territory last year and returning an improved offense. When the Bengals find themselves with the ball approaching the 4 minute mark of the 2nd quarter, or receiving the ball out of halftime, you should be trading on them to win.
Give the Middle 8 a try this upcoming season.
Other situational Micro-Trades to consider: When these teams are in these situations, there may be increased value in trading on them.
Fun in the Redzone
Buffalo scored TD’s on 66.28% of their redzone opportunities last season, even with Josh Allen completing only 55% of his RZ passes. That ranked 18th among quarterbacks with at last 40 attempts. A positive regression is coming.
Dallas scored TD’s on an insane 84.38% of their trips inside the 20 in 21’. They are a major regression candidate and their offense will look different without Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup to start the season. I’m looking to short them in the early part of the season.
Philly scored on 73.68% of their redzone trips on the road and will now have a better offense with AJ Brown on the wings. According to Sharp Football Analysis, the Eagles had positive rush percentages going left, right and middle in the redzone in 2021.
The Colts averaged over a touchdown per first quarter at home with Carson Wentz as their quarterback. Matt Ryan isn’t the greatest, but he’s a stabilizer. I expect this number to continue to be strong and for the Colts to keep getting off to great starts in Indy.
Momentum trading based on patterns in a NFL game like this could earn you instantaneous profit each Sunday. That is the true benefit of trading sports on Sporttrade.
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