Football season is nearly here and GTBets – the clean-up hitter of sportsbooks – is a go to site for pigskin because of their half-point promo for favorite teams. For those unfamiliar, bettors choose their go-to college and NFL teams, and every bet placed on those teams comes with a free half-point.
While most bettors would like to believe they objectively analyze lines each week and come to a sound decision about which squads to back, the bottom line is we all have biases. Some bettors subconsciously favor the teams they liked growing up; some favor the teams that have won them big money in the past. Whatever your bias, the reality is that a half-a-point makes more of a difference in tight, low-scoring games versus high-octane affairs. So, when it comes to GTBets’ favorite-team promo, you’ll be best served by choosing defensively stout squads who routinely find themselves in nail-biters. These are my favorites for the upcoming season.
The Cowboys were outscored by 15 points per game last season thanks in large part to scoring fewer than 20 points a contest. Despite significant offensive issues, and an ugly 2-10 record that included a double-digit home loss to FCS member North Dakota, the Cowboys were 6-6 against the spread. Wyoming is one of four teams in the country returning 18 starters this season. The defense should continue to be stout, the offense will be improved, and getting an extra half-point in what are likely to be low-scoring, close games is a great way to take advantage of the promo.
If you’re keen to pick a team that you’ll actually get to see on a weekly basis, try the Vols on for size. Butch Jones can really coach; his third season at Central Michigan saw the Chippewas breakout by posting an 11-2 record. It only took one mediocre year at Cincinnati to turn the Bearcats into a ten-win program. He inherited a bad situation at Tennessee, but has improved the team each season, taking the Volunteers from 5-7 to 7-6 to 9-4 last year. And that 9-4 mark could easily have been better as all four losses came in the closing minutes.
The Vols were 8-5 against the spread last year and have 17 starters back in 2016. They have an excellent chance to win ten games for the first time since Phil Fulmer was shown the door.
I advocate for the Dolphins, not because they have a great D or tend to play tight games, but because I expect a much better ATS performance than last season, when they went 11-5. Why do I see the Fins being better against the number? Two main reasons: first, I think the general public will be writing them off early; second, new head coach Adam Gase should finally help QB Ryan Tannehill live up to his potential.
Miami is probably going to start the season 1-3. Three of their first four games are epic road battles at Seattle, New England (albeit sans Tom Brady), and Cincinnati. The other is a gimme at home against the Browns. If the Fins are indeed 1-3 following a 6-10 campaign last year, there isn’t going to be a lot of support for the team. However, new head coach Adam Gase is a bit of a quarterback whisperer. He revived Jay Cutler’s career, helped Peyton Manning to some of his best seasons, and even won a playoff game with Tim Tebow. If Tannehill takes a step forward this year, the perennial underachievers should finally start to improve. And if public expectations are as tepid as I expect them to be, Miami will be on the receiving end of some favorable lines in the last three quarters of the season.
The Chiefs defense was one of the best in the league last year. A half-point matters when your m.o. is playing the field-possession game, avoiding turnovers on offense, and generally relying on your D to win you games. Alex Smith is not a great quarterback, but he is capable and risk-averse. In sum, he’s ideal for betting tight games. Add in that the AFC West doesn’t feature any monsters this year, and KC looks poised to emerge on top of a lot of narrow contests.
Average bettors don’t like wagering on boring teams. But if you’re really trying to win a little money, you should love conservative offenses when you get the benefit of an extra half point.