Important NFL Trends to Fatten Your Wallet
by David Lane - 08/07/2007
When it comes to the NFL, winning bets can hinge greatly on a team's performance on such things as playing surface (grass or turf), stadium type (dome or open), and location of the game (home or away). There are statistics that track these different scenarios and they can show incredible trends regarding a particular team's success or failure. These facts can lead a bettor to some serious wins, even on big underdogs when they pick their spots correctly. Sorting through these stats for trends combined with an experienced eye for spotting a bargain is, as American Express says, "priceless".
If one understands that the betting line is a mere reflection of public sentiment and the sports book's reaction to it, then many times the facts will tell you something completely different -- that the public's opinion is often times wrong. This is how professional sports bettors make a living, by going against the public bettors when push the line to a point where value is created. Finding these 'buys' and exploiting the opportunity leads to consistent success. Research is key in these situations, so in order to illustrate my point about these trends, I'll use NFL stats and a hypothetical situation to show when to use them in your favor.
As good as the New England Patriots have been over the past five seasons, including the playoffs -- 65-22 straight up and 51-34-2 against the spread overall -- their record on turf is even better. They were an excellent 13-1-1 ATS on turf including 4-0-1 in dome stadiums. Now, consider that all of their home games are played on grass and that's an even more incredible stat. Everyone likes a winner, especially while playing at home, so the bettor must give a lot, whether it is in the form of hefty points or steep juice on the money line, to take the Patriots at home against almost anyone. However, knowing that any and all upcoming games played on turf or at a dome stadium have to be road games, the line or odds will be much more favorable for us to bet. This would be a terrific opportunity to exploit, especially knowing what we do about their excellent record on turf/dome stadiums.
Not all teams are as great as the Patriots but many of the trends you find can be equally similar. The Carolina Panthers play at home on grass as well as in an outdoor stadium (like the Patriots). If one takes the last five seasons including playoffs again, their record straight up was 48-39 during that span and 44-41-2 ATS overall. However, if you total the Panthers record on turf ATS it was 17-6 and, of that total, they went 11-4 in dome stadiums. Since the Panthers aren't near the team the Patriots are in the public's eye, most likely their point spread or money line will be much more generous, especially combined with the fact that, once again, all the games would be ROAD games (since their home games are all on grass). Obviously, depending on who they are playing, this would be another nice wagering opportunity to exploit!
If the Panthers were playing New England, there wouldn't be much of an advantage here for Carolina since (a) both teams play on grass, (b) New England has a better record against the spread (c) and in this case much would depend on where the game was played (home/away records). If you take the last two seasons for each team, including playoffs, the numbers will make my point more clear about receiving a 'better price' for your team on the road (be it points or money line). The Patriots, as great as they are, were 6-11 against the spread at home while being a very respectable 12-4 on the road. This is a telling fact that shows that they were overpriced at home (the line was high because public sentiment was as well) and they were a much better 'bargain' on the road. The Panthers were 7-9 at home and were 10-8-1 on the road. Though the numbers might not be that impressive here, it seems that you'd want the road team in either case. However, experience just might kick in and tell me not to bet the Panthers against the Patriots in Foxboro even though I'd take the reverse scenario in a second.
These are just a few examples of how one might decipher particular information on two teams. Finding good basis to buck public sentiment and therefore the sports book itself is an excellent way to find bargains that exist. Like any marketplace, finding good investments ultimately brings profits. Whether you do the research or pay for someone else's expertise, taking the time to seek knowledge before you place your bets separates the serious gambler from the 'just playing for fun' crowd in my book!