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The Medical (Injury) Report and your Bankroll
October 02, 2006

How can you use injuries to make money in sports betting?

Let’s review some general principles:

1. When is an injury an injury?:

NFL teams report injuries under the following categories with their supposed percentage chance of the player actually playing: Probable - 75%, Questionable - 50%, Doubtful - 25% and Out - 0%. They can be fined for misrepresenting the true status of injured players. The league is of course on paper as being against betting; however they don’t want their teams getting the better of us bettors! To avoid fines, teams will play it safe by putting any player who might not play in at least the probable category and will only put a player in the out category if there’s no way he’s playing. Probable basically means playing. Doubtful basically means doubtful. What to make of the all-to-common Questionable? As the weekend approaches, look to see whether or not the player is practicing. If he practices, make him probable; if he doen’t make him doubtful.

2. All things being equal, an injury to a marquee player helps the underdog, regardless of which team the underdog is:

When the injured player is from the favored (and supposedly better) team, they tend to think they’re good enough to win without him anyway. However, the underdog gains motivation as they see it as an increased opportunity to pull the upset. Week 1 example: Atl +4 @ Car., star WR Smith out; Falcons 20-6. If the dog has a key injury, the other players tend to suck it up to make up for it, while the favorite gets complacent or over-confident. Week 2 example: KC, QB Green out +10 1/2 @ Den., Broncos 9-6 in OT.

3. Injuries to marquee players are often over-rated, causing big line moves that can be bet against:

LY’s closing line for KC @ Den. was -3. LW the OL was -8 and was subsequently bet up to and through the key number of 10. In week 1 TY, Big Ben’s appendix was worth 5 pts. (not on E-Bay) and both the key numbers of 4 and 3 as the line moved from -5 down to pick ‘em.

4. Look for teams with under-rated injuries and bet against them:

The most under-rated injury is to the Center. He is the “quarterback” of the OL. All that finger-pointing from Peyton and C Jeff Saturday is to alter blocking assignments on the fly at the line of scrimmage. The C must help the OL adjust or their O will suffer. My favorite example is the TB-Oak. Super Bowl. Raider C Robbins goes M.I.A., the line doesn’t move, yet QB Gannon runs for his life all day resulting in multiple picks and sacks. LW, the Rams played without 156 game consecutive starter C McCollum and gave up 6 sacks in 20-13 road L as a 3 pt. fav. The other under-rated injuries to look for are multiple (or “cluster”) ones within the same unit; either the OL, DL or secondary. These units must function as one; so if two or more players are injured they’re performance often suffers.

5. If a team plays inspired because of an injury, look for them to let down the next week:

Pittsburgh made up for Roethlisberger’s absence in week 1, but could not match that intensity last Monday night.

Reed Hogben M.D.

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