Rejoice, NFL bettors.
We’re less than 72 hours away from wagering on preseason ball and 37 days from the regular season kicking off. Discovering advantages in the market plays a role in separating sharp and casual bettors, especially regarding the latter.
Despite steering away from trends guiding my matchup perception, they can assist with fueling an analytical edge and/or situational spot (bounce back, letdown, revenge or motivational). Let’s dissect a trio of September trends before Week 1 spreads begin to shift.
This data stems from 2015-2018, as it’s typically beneficial to stay from longer stretches because of personnel turnover.
Road dogs bark early at home: Favorites were a combined 26-37 against the spread (41.3 percent) on the road during the first month of the season.
They went 42-42-1 ATS (50.0%) in October, 41-39-5 ATS in November (51.3%) and 55-45-3 ATS (61.1%) in December, respectively.
What’s the rationale behind it? Even the “superior” teams can be overpriced at the beginning of the campaign, thanks to the market failing to adjust for regression and/or surprisingly-improved squads. For instance, the Steelers and Seahawks are a combined 1-7 ATS as a road favorite during that span.
Looking ahead to the first set of regular-season lines, the Rams are a three-point favorite in Carolina. With Los Angeles coach Sean McVay already planning on scaling back tailback Todd Gurley’s snap share (88.8 percent) from last season, their offensive game plan will inevitably undergo an adjustment period.
Super Bowl losers are also 2-12-2 ATS since 2003, which showcases the hangover effect from personnel changes — one of the rare examples of using less recent data to your advantage.
Packers (9-5 ATS), Broncos’ (7-3-2 ATS) success: Qualifying Denver’s talent contrast is necessary, as Trevor freakin’ Siemian was 4-1-1 ATS amid this span. Both teams have undergone coaching staff alterations since the start of this trend as well, but it proves that these squads haven’t been priced correctly in the early portion of the season.
Each group could very well outperform their expectations in 2019. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has the revenge narrative written all over him after racking up the sixth-lowest yards per attempt (7.4 Y/A) of his career, and Joe Flacco has a potential revival campaign in store following an 11-year run in Baltimore and starting under first-year head coach Vic Fangio, whose success rate is unknown.
The Broncos manufactured the eighth-lowest points per drive (1.75 PPD) in the league a season ago, and a Flacco-led offense that should endure some positive regression will pair well with an underrated unit on the other side of the ball.
Seahawks (3-9-1 ATS), Chargers (4-8-1 ATS), Giants’ (5-8 ATS) woes: All of these teams have possessed the same starting quarterback over this stretch (Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning), and public bettors tend to go with more well-known or hyped-up commodities.
But they’ve clearly underperformed while showcasing superior results in ensuing months, going 26-19-4 ATS (57.4 percent), 27-22 ATS (55.1 percent) and 26-20-3 ATS (56.5 percent) over their remaining regular-season action. New York should continue the trend with their injury-depleted receiving corps, and Seattle could have issues while adjusting to life post-wideout Doug Baldwin and safety Earl Thomas, respectively.
Los Angeles is an interesting case study despite its normally underachieving ways, as its defense that yielded the eighth-lowest PPD in 2018 (1.83) should only improve.
*Trends via Radio.com Sports’ Arian Modarres