How to Identify Trap Games
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - What is trap game in football? As a novice bettor, it's crucial to be aware of trap games and you can even use them to you advantage.
One example of a trap game in football is where a team is looking past their current opponent towards the one they will be playing the next week.
Late in the season, you also have teams in college and the NFL that have already clinched a playoff spot or bowl spot. Michigan State this past weekend had clinched a trip to the Big 10 Championship game and were 17-point favorite hosting Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were not very talented but were somehow 8-3. Even though Michigan State has been steady throughout the season, they finally had a letdown and won 14-3, but didn't cover the 17. Was Michigan State looking ahead to playing Ohio State the following week?
Another example, is where Las Vegas and the sportsbooks will skew a line strangely toward one side. Oddsmakers want to you bet a certain way by making the line too good to be true. It takes some research to realize why and the most recent example this past weekend would be North Carolina (-5) over Duke. Why would they make red-hot North Carolina such a big favorite against red-hot Duke in an obvious rivalry game where a win for the Blue Devils would put them in the ACC Championship against Florida State? Duke did win the game outright, 27-25. If you bet Duke, you took the bait and won though that's not always the case.
Wisconsin was a 25-point favorite over Penn State this Saturday at home in Madison. Why was the line so high? Wisconsin had covered the big number against Indiana and Purdue, but Penn State was a better-coached team. This was a team not going to a bowl game because they were ineligible. This was their bowl game and Wisconsin was looking for a BCS game. They needed to win and not cover. The result? Penn State won the game outright, 31-24.
A third example of a trap game would be the let-down theory. When a team wins a big game the previous week, they often have letdowns and don't cover the following week. New England came off an incredible 34-31 overtime win at home on Nov. 24, beating Denver after coming back from a 24-0 deficit. They were playing downtrodden Houston this past weekend giving 7 points. They trailed 17-7 at the half after a lethargic performance and wound up coming back to win 34-31 but didn't cover the 7.
The bottom line is that there are many scenarios where teams are not very focused coming off a win or with a big rivalry game coming up. They might win the football game, but not cover. It makes sense to avoid the trap games and when possible, use a strong line to your advantage. If you are looking for the perfect spot to play an underdog, these trap games fit the bill.