NFL betting is the undisputed, pound-for-pound king of sports betting in the United States and a huge reason why is because of the beautiful simplicity of the NFL schedule.
The NFL regular season schedule requires that all 32 teams play a 16-game slate with one week they take off (also known as the bye week). There are 256 games in total, with all 32 teams playing eight games at home and eight games on the road.
NFL games occur predominantly on Thursday, Sunday and Monday evenings with some Saturday games sprinkled in at the end of the college football regular season, and as is the case with any other sports you wish to wager on, understanding the nuances of the NFL schedule can give you an additional edge when it comes to betting on the sport.
Home-Field Advantage in the NFL Schedule
In football more than any other sport, home-field advantage is a very real phenomenon and should be factored into your wagering when the opportunity arises. Many teams play noticeably
different in the comfort of their own stadium as opposed to when they take their show on the road and deciphering the teams that do play much better at home gives you an immediate handicapping advantage.
Some teams that are known for their raucous home-field advantage include the following:
- New England Patriots (The Pats are widely known for being extremely tough at home)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (Bitterly cold weather, unforgiving winds and a sea of waving yellow towels)
- Kansas City Chiefs (Very cold weather in the winter months and fans that are LOUD)
- Denver Broncos (High altitude, cold weather, loud crowds and potentially lengthy trips for east coast teams)
- Philadelphia Eagles (Their fans booed Santa Claus, need we say more?!)
- Green Bay Packers (Lambeau, bone chilling cold and an abundance of fanatic fans)
- Minnesota Vikings (SKOL!)
- New Orleans Saints (Loud, loud, loud fans with a little voodoo sprinkled in)
- Seattle Seahawks (Their fans have caused earthquakes and the stadium is conveniently designed to rain sound on opposing teams along with literal rain)
There are other nuances to home-field advantage besides loud unruly fans and weather though – travel plays a huge role in team performance as well.
When teams on the West Coast have to travel across the country for a game that starts at a time they are not accustomed to (see 1PM ET kick times for Pacific/Mountain time zone teams), there has been a noticeable drop off in how they fare. Since 2003, West Coast teams have gone 95-138 (40.8%) straight up when playing on the East Coast.
East Coast teams have also been impacted by travel, with teams based in the eastern time zone winning less than 35% of the time in primetime games.
There’s also the additional wrinkle where the NFL allocates a few games every season to take place from London. For teams traveling to London for the first time, there has been a noticeable drop off in performance as opposed to the teams that have participated in that game already.
When handicapping the weeks action in the NFL, factoring in travel and home-field advantage could be the difference between a great day and a losing one.
The Road Warriors NFL Betting
While home-field advantage is one of the most common ways to approach the NFL schedule, finding the teams that fare the best (or worst) away from home is just as important.
It should be no surprise that since 2010, the Patriots are far and away the best road team in the NFL – winning at a 68% clip. Conversely, teams like Jacksonville (24% road win percentage) and Cleveland (16% win percentage) have been dreadful when they take to the road.
Finding tendencies and trends like this go a long way towards ensuring you’re identifying value on the board in the NFL, and each season you will find a team or two that is absolutely sensational on the road. Considering oddsmakers factor in home-field advantage when creating point spreads for each matchup, if you’re able to find the gems that excel on the road, you can find some incredible value in your wagering.
Another thing to take into consideration with teams on the road is how long they have been away from home. If an east-coast team has to travel in back-to-back weeks with the second leg of that road trip occurring on the west-coast against a team like Seattle or San Francisco, there could be a major travel advantage for the home team in that matchup. It goes the other way as well, if a west-coast team is finishing a back-to-back east coast trip, did that team travel back home only to fly across the country again? Did that west-coast team elect to stay on the east-coast that whole week to save the extra round-trip flight? All of these things should be factored in with your handicapping.
It Ain’t No Lie… Bye, Bye, Bye!
The bye week presents another great opportunity to capture additional value in your football handicapping. There are several teams that simply perform better after a bye week than others. There are also many instances where a team will be coming off a bye week just in time to refresh and get guys back from injury to face a team in the middle of one of those aforementioned road trips that we touched upon earlier.
It should be no surprise that the teams that perform the best off the bye week among the best teams in football year in and year out. The Patriots, Ravens and Seahawks are all known for how sharp they look off a bye week – collectively winning in over 75% of their games after the bye week since 2010. Other teams like the Vikings and Jets are known for being notoriously sluggish after a week off. Finding trends and tendencies of teams performance following a bye week and integrating that with where their opponent is in their schedule is yet another means to spot a hidden gem or two on the board.
Here at OddsUSA, we have all the latest insight, trends and stats to keep you ahead of the game and ensure a profitable football season. Good luck and happy wagering!