This article covers handicapping late season NFL games.
When Handicapping Late Season NFL games sports bettors need to take into account a number of other motivation and situational factors that are not an issue during the majority of the season. To examine this further, lets look at some current situations to help us with Handicapping late season NFL games.
There are quite a few different story-lines for the final Sunday of the NFL and bettors should at least be aware of them and how they may influence the point spreads in this week’s games.
There is one wildcard playoff spot to be determined in the AFC and the San Diego Chargers have the inside track, as a victory over Kansas City will put them in the playoffs. The Chiefs aren’t mathematically eliminated and will be playing to win, but need a pair of double-digit favorites in Houston and Baltimore to both lose outright in order to qualify for the playoffs. Baltimore does get the nod over the Texans and will make it with a win over Cleveland and a Kansas City victory over San Diego, while the Texans need both the Chargers and Ravens to lose.
Working against the Texans and Chiefs is that Week No. 17 favorites have performed well over the past five seasons, going 43-35-1 (55.1%) and larger favorites have done even better, with favorites of 4.5 or more points going 29-20 (59.2%) and favorites of 7.5 points or more going 20-11 (64.5%) and a solid 10-4 the past two years.
Home teams have also fared well in Week No. 17, going 48-31-1 (60.8%) over the past five seasons. Both favorites (34-22-1, 60.7%) and underdogs (13-9, 59.1%) have been profitable and the home team covered the lone game that was listed “pick-em.”
Last week there were a number of teams which had more than 80% of the wagers in their games and these teams were pretty poor against the spread, with Green Bay the lone team to cover the number. This week, only the Indianapolis Colts are flirting with the 80% figure, as they currently have 79% of the wagers in their game at Tennessee.
Three games will see teams battling for division titles facing each other; Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Detroit at Green Bay; and Carolina at Atlanta. The NFC West division title is also up for grabs, but Seattle can wrap-up the No. 1 spot in the NFC with a win over the Rams, as long as the Green Bay game doesn’t end up in a tie, since Seattle holds the tie-breaker advantage as long as three teams are tied with 12-4 records.
Also be sure to pay attention to what the coaches have to say on Friday and Saturday, as a team like New England may well rest a few starters or play them limited minutes. The Eagles, Bills and Saints may also sit out a few players who could go if they were involved in a meaningful game.
Handicapping Late Season NFL games - Draft Picks
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently holding the No. 1 spot in the 2015 draft and can wrap it up with a loss to the New Orleans Saints, while the Tennessee Titans can do no worse than No. 2 provided they lose to the Colts. Tampa Bay can’t pick worse than No. 2 even if they do pull off the upset, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, as they will be playing a Saints team that just had its bubble burst a week ago, and like Philadelphia and Buffalo, you have to wonder about their mental state heading into this week’s games after being eliminated from playoff contention a week ago.
The Eagles have even less to play for, especially if they are going to make a pitch at prying the No. 1 pick from either Tampa Bay or Tennessee to try and grab Marcus Mariota, as the rumor mill is suggesting. Another loss by Philadelphia would at least make their No. 1 pick slightly more enticing, although it will also cost them Nick Foles, along with several other high draft choices. The Eagles predicament has also caught notice from bettors, as Philadelphia opened as a 1.5-point underdog against the New York Giants and now the Giants are -3.
Handicapping Late Season NFL games - Sitting Starters
Also be sure to pay attention to what the coaches have to say on Friday and Saturday, as a team like New England may well rest a few starters or play them limited minutes. The Eagles, Bills and Saints may also sit out a few players who could go if they were involved in a meaningful game
Week 17 NFL Free Pick
12/28/2014 1:00 PM NFL Football 307 Indianapolis Colts* -6 -110 vs Tennessee Titans for 1st Half
Risking 2.00 To Win 1.82
Neither team has anything to play for here. I expect Luck to play for the first half, get a decent lead then take the 2nd half off to avoid the chance of injury. The Titans are playing at home, so they may come back in the 2nd half against some starters, but I would be very surprised if they actually tried to win this game and compromise the #1 draft pick.
Author: Rob Holiday
My background is in business, consulting, finance and entrepreneurship