Football bettors got their first earful of NFL training camp noise this weekend. While the sports networks and talk radio waves are jammed packed with tidbits from camp, most of this information can be discarded, according to our Covers Experts.
But, there are some things pro handicappers keep close tabs on during NFL training. We asked our wiseguys what has their attention this summer:
The injury bug bit hard in the first few days of training camp. The Denver Broncos lost starting center Dan Koppen for the season to a torn ACL and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert was carted off the field after spraining his ankle.
The Seattle Seahawks could be without new WR Percy Harvin for a while after he suffered a slight tear in his labrum and the Philadelphia Eagles won’t have WR Jeremy Maclin for 2013 after he tore his ACL.
“I just watch for injuries especially those on the offensive line,” says a capper for Doc’s Sports. “Having a banged-up line creates major issues for the quarterback and running back and it may take a few weeks for the backups to get up to par. If a team suffered a key offensive line injury it may be worth a look fading that team the first couple of weeks.”
NFC East bettors will also be keeping a watch on Robert Griffin III’s wonky knee and if the Washington Redskins’ dynamic QB will be ready to go – or even at 100 percent – come the season opener versus Philadelphia on Monday Night Football.
New coaches, new schemes
Eight teams have a new head coach, 13 have a new offensive coordinator and a dozen squads welcome a new defensive coordinator. Paying attention to how these teams adapt to their new coaches can pay off when Week 1 rolls around.
“When new OCs and DCs are brought in, it's usually because of either a new head coaching change or a change made out of necessity,” says pro capper Marc Lawrence. “They often times bring new playbooks, and as a result there is a new learning curve on each side of the ball.”
The most notable coaching swap was the Eagles’ hire of former Oregon skipper Chip Kelly, who brings his high-octane offense to the pros. Other teams and new hires under the microscope are the Cleveland Browns and new OC Norv Turner and Monte Kiffin calling the defensive shots in Dallas.
“This season there are a lot of interesting story lines involving new schemes for teams,” says Doc’s Sports. “Dallas is switching back to a 4-3 defense after nearly a decade in the 3-4. And not just any 4-3, but a Cover-2 scheme, which has seemingly fallen out of favor in recent seasons.”
Bettors should also make note of current NFL coaches on the hot seat and their demeanor heading into training camp. Covers Expert Bruce Marshall points the finger at Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who is coming off a disappointing 4-12 SU and 6-10 ATS. Marshall says the fear of losing their job can motivate these coaches to pull out all the stops in the early season, and even press for victories in the preseason.
There are plenty of QB controversies brewing after the first weekend of training camp.
Of course, the New York Jets’ highly-publicized battle between Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith has hogged the headlines this summer. But Buffalo, Philadelphia, Oakland and Jacksonville also have some tough calls to make under center.
“These are the teams where there's no true starter named yet,” says Covers Expert Will Rogers. “Whoever emerges will obviously have a significant impact on that team's respective season.”
Some cappers tab specific No. 1 quarterbacks and track their progress through training camp. Covers Experts’ Will Rogers has eyes for Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman and how hot his coaching staff is for him at the end of the summer.
“Rumor has it that the current coaching staff isn't in love with him, and why should they be given the way he finished last season?,” says Rogers. “They drafted Mike Glennon out of NC State as well, making matters more dicey.”