It was a wild weekend for football. In college, USC’s upset loss to UCLA sent the BCS title match-up into confusion, while in the NFL there were two safeties and a ton of turnovers in a sloppy Sunday that must have had offensive coaches pulling their hair out. Chicago QB Rex Grossman completed 6 passes and threw three interceptions, and his team STILL covered as a 9-point favorite! Sometimes it helps to watch a team play the first half before betting on or against them.
All of which brings up an aspect of wagering not always mentioned and that’s halftime betting. Like totals betting, halftime wagering has been around for decades and offers good opportunities for bettors. There are different strategies that can be used to your advantage when making halftime wagers. But the biggest edge is that for second half wagers, you have the opportunity to watch half the first half, giving you a chance to scout a team’s strengths, weaknesses, situations and potential game strategies.
Look at Saturday’s USC/UCLA game. The total for the contest was roughly 47, but if you watched the first half you saw two rugged defensive teams, with USC holding a 9-7 halftime lead. That was a far cry from a year ago with USC winning 66-19. Both teams in 2005 had super-talented and versatile offenses, but this season both offenses had lost most of their best offensive talents, including their starting quarterbacks.
In addition, UCLA has a new defensive coordinator and the Bruins have been solid on ‘D’ all season. The second half total was 22 and a good bettor might have looked at the under, as both teams were playing stout defense. It was also a close game, which can mean coaches are more likely to go conservative in the second half as any kind of turnover could change things fast. The second half sailed under the total with 6 second half points (all by UCLA)!
Pro and college football offers some excellent advantages, in that you can watch the action like a scout, and then put the odds in your favor by betting the second half. One of the best opportunities is when a strong offensive team has a bad first half. This was evident last week in the Monday night game, as Seattle QB Matt Hassellbeck threw 3 first half interceptions against the Packers. Seattle trailed 14-12 at the half against a poor Packer defense. However, in the second half, the Seahawks shrugged off that turnover-prone first half and scored 22 points, winning and covering the second half number and going over the total. A good offensive team off a bad first half is likely to get moving in the second half, especially at home or against a below-average defense. Sometimes, the 2nd-half lines offer good correlated parlay opportunities. I bet on Seattle -6.5 + the ‘over’ 19.5 points for the 2nd half in that game because, I figured if Seattle covered the 6.5 points, the 2nd half was also likely to go ‘over’ the number (and would be guaranteed to do so if Green Bay scored just 7 points).
It’s important to be aware of team and coaching tendencies, too. A team like Seattle has a potent and balanced offense and is capable of pouring it on in the second half. However, coaches like Herm Edwards, Jack Del Rio, Art Shell, Joe Gibbs, Dennis Green and new Vikings coach Brad Childress prefer ball control. If they have a lead at the half, they often are more inclined to play conservative. Coaches like that might be worth a look under the second half total, especially if they have a big lead. Depending on the game situation, you can make good guesses as to what they might do depending on the halftime score.
Perhaps we could put NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin on that list after last week’s stunning collapse at Tennessee, blowing a 21-0 fourth quarter lead! Know your players and coaches, and try to project what game plan a team may go to in the second half. You can find excellent wagering opportunities on sides and totals for the second half. Good luck, as always. . . Al McMordie.
Al McMordie is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Al_McMordie.htm