Strange NFL Betting Trends To Keep an Eye on in 2019
This is a rough time of year for football fans. The start of the regular season - never mind training camps - is a long way off. But all of the interesting stuff - free agency, the draft, the coaching carousel and so on - is all in the rearview mirror. We can pretend that we care about OTAs, but we know that no one actually does. With not a whole lot going on, we are forced to find ways to at least sort of scratch our football itch. And our way of doing that today is to look for oddities in the standings last year - things that stand out as being just plain odd. They may or may not having betting meaning this year, but at the very least they are worth a look.
New England Patriots: They are coming off a season that was as successful as it could possibly be in the end, but it was an odd trip to get there. There were a few oddities that popped out in the standings here. The first, and most striking, is that they were a perfect 8-0 at home and a fairly bleak 3-5 on the road. We know that Foxboro is a very tough place to play, but this was a big swing from the year before when they were 6-2 at home and 7-1 on the road. The really surprising thing, too, was that three of the five road losses were just plain ugly - at Detroit, Jacksonville and Miami. And while losses at Tennessee and Pittsburgh were better, they still weren't ideal given the relative strength of the two teams. This year they have the three AFC East road trips, which should again be pretty manageable. And they have easier trips to Cincinnati and Washington, too. But Philadelphia, Houston and Baltimore are not going to look to be gracious hosts, so they will have to be dialed in on the road to keep things rolling this year. They did get a win at Chicago last year after somehow turning it into a shootout against that defense, so motivation might be easier to come by against good teams.
Another oddity of the schedule last year was an extension of what we just discussed - the team was a strong 10-1 on turf but a lousy 1-4 on grass. The grass issues were limited to last year, though - they were much stronger on the natural stuff the few years before - so this is more of just an oddity.
Miami Dolphins: Their 7-9 record was good enough for second in the division last year but was a long way from relevant in the wild card chase. But this was a team that made the Patriots look like ferocious travelers. They were a very respectable 6-2 at home but won only once in eight tries away from home. And their only road win came in Week 2 at the Jets, so that hardly counts as an NFL win. The team was just 2-6 on the road the year before as well, so you'll want to pay attention to what's going on this year before you trust these guys outside of South Florida.
Kansas City Chiefs: I have never been to Kansas City, so I don't know if there are a disproportionate number of senior citizens in the city. What I do know, though, is that the Chiefs acted like seniors last year - if they hadn't eaten and gone to bet by dusk they were a wreck. They were a perfect 10-0 in day games, but if they had to stay up beyond their bedtime and play at night then they went just 2-4. All of the losses were decent - those epics against New England and the Rams, a tight one to the Chargers, and Seattle in Week 16. And three of the four were on the road. But the popular teams tend to play more night games, so this is something the Chiefs are going to want to figure out. In Alex Smith's last year with the team in 2017 the team was 5-1 at night, and 5-5 during the day, so this is clearly all Patrick Mahomes' fault. Clearly, they never should have made the QB change.
Minnesota Vikings: This is another team that had a day/night split, though not as striking as Kansas City's - they were 7-3-1 in day games and just 1-4 at night. What is more telling about this highly disappointing season last year, though, was the story their strength of schedule told. They played teams that had a combined .504 record - not an easy schedule by any means, but it should have been more than manageable for what this team had going on. But their strength of victory - the combined record of the teams they met was only .355. So, they not only won just eight games, but they beat up on bad teams and lost to most good ones. That gap between the two numbers is the biggest in league among teams that were .500 or better by a wide margin. True contenders would like to have a much narrower gap. New Orleans and New England actually both had their numbers reversed - the teams they beat had a better combined record than the teams they played overall. What this number means, in short, is that Minnesota's ugly season was even uglier than it first appeared.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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