Bettors primed on NFL guides

Aug 1, 2006 5:14 AM

Even though the NFL football season is still six weeks away, it’s never too early to start studying for die-hard football fans.

For those handicappers wanting to get a leg up on the season, here are some excellent publications to go along with the ones we previewed earlier.

Al O’Donnell’s Pro Football Point Spread Playbook: 2006 edition (113 pages, paperbound, $19.95). The Illinois-based O’Donnell has his 28th annual edition out ahead of the pack with hundreds of potential betting angles for sides and totals, plus schedules, room to keep records. O’Donnell doesn’t tell you who to bet — for or against.

His strength is to just present the facts, telling you how a team performed at home or away for past seasons, who they dominated or who has the edge over them in regard to spreads or totals.

The book contains pointspread histories for the past three years for each pro team plus a clear indication of the type of surface the game was played on, what the total number was and if the game score went over or under. You’ll be able to see, in summary form, how teams performed overall on Monday night (as a favorite or dog, home and away), on grass or turf each of the last three seasons and overall for the period, and how well they did versus division and conference teams.

O’Donnell’s book is both a gift and reference source for the beginner or seasoned pro.

Another respected handicapper and statistical analyst, GamingToday columnist Andy Iskoe, has his 2006 editions of the Pro Football Statistical Pattern Report (20 pages, stapled, paperbound, 8x11, $10) and College Football Statistical Pattern Report (16 pages, stapled paperbound, 8x11, $10) ready.

Each book answers the question most handicappers ask: What causes teams to cover the pointspread? In an 18-season study of 4,500 pro games and more than 11,000 college games, Iskoe examine the key offensive and defensive box score statistics — showing you year by year how rushing, passing, turnovers, total yards affect performance and why the team covered.

Double-edged powerhouses, which can rush and pass yet are capable of stopping their opponent from moving the ball, are clearly most effective in covering the spread. This is a thinking-man’s approach to handicapping a game. It involves using statistics and past performances, while saving the handicapper countless hours of testing theories and angles.

Iskoe offers illuminating examples and guides the handicapper with a formula, a technique for incorporating a variety of factors. In effect he is showing you that handicapping is both an art and a science.

The Gold Sheet, College and Pro Football Annual (240 pages, magazine, $6.99) is a remarkable best buy for a variety of reasons. It offers a look back at three complete exhibition seasons for the pros showing you score, spread and totals and lists the 2006 games by team. Also, you can see a pointspread breakdown for the last four seasons for each pro exhibition game, enabling you to spot how a team did as a favorite; as a favorite for more than three points; how they did after a straight-up loss.

For each pro team you’ll see their draft picks; key boxscore statistics from every game played last season on offense and defense; four complete regular season pointspread histories, game by game; what their projected 2006 lineups are on offense and defense and some tips for fantasy league players.

For those who yearn for pro and college power ratings, the end of season numbers for each team are on the final page of the magazine including a rating for the home field value (amazingly some stadiums offer quite an edge, with Iowa and Hawaii among the best in the colleges and in the pros, Seattle and Pittsburgh ranked 1-2).

For the price, one of the best magazines you’ll find — whether you’re a bettor or just a fan.

These books and more are available at Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club) in Las Vegas. The store’s web site is www.gamblersbook.com; toll free number is 1-800-522-1777.