It’s Week 15 and the slate is chock-full of must-watch games including Patriots-Steelers and Seahawks-Rams. To get you ready for another NFL weekend here are some trends to know.
There is incredible power in understanding how teams, players, leagues and markets have reacted to various scenarios. Using Bet Labs massive database of proprietary sports betting information, you can easily build and explore data-driven betting systems. Our database goes back to 2003, the trends include all games in that time frame unless otherwise mentioned.
Sample Size Error
The top teams in the AFC meet in Pittsburgh for a showdown that will likely determine home-field advantage in the playoffs. Brady and Belichick, despite an ugly loss to the Dolphins on Monday, are 2-point favorites on the road. Casual bettors haven’t shied away from the Patriots with 72% of spread tickets coming in on the chalk. The public isn’t wrong for liking New England.
When elite teams (won 70% or more of games that year) play late in the regular season (after November) the favorite is 26-6 straight-up and 22-9-1 (71.0%) ATS. Before you empty your Bitcoin account to load up on the Pats, how much faith should bettors put in a sample size of 32 games?
Not much. When these great teams hit the field in the playoffs, the favorite is only 23-29 ATS. Our larger sample now leaves favorites with a 45-38-1 (54.2%) ATS record when the NFL’s best teams meet.
It is easy to get excited about a betting trend with an awesome win rate but before placing any wager gamblers need to consider the sample size.
A 3-Win Favorite, Believe It
There are 3,792 regular season games in the Bet Labs database, only 228 (6.0%) feature a team with a losing record favored over a team with a winning record. Enter the 49ers (3-10) as betting favorites (-2) over the Titans, a team that would make the postseason if it started today.
San Francisco has won three of its last four games including each of Jimmy Garoppolo’s first two starts. The majority of bettors like the home favorite and history backs up the play. All favorites with a losing record against teams with a winning record have been profitable (116-105-7, 52.5% ATS), the results get better as the team’s win rate declines.
Teams like the Niners that have won less than 25% of their games but are favored over a team with a winning record have gone 41-28-5 (59.4%) ATS since 2003.
Texans Revenge Game
Houston’s season started with a 29-7 shellacking at home against Jacksonville. The Jags had 10 sacks and forced four turnovers in the win. The Week 15 rematch looks anything but competitive as the Texans will likely start third-string quarterback T.J. Yates. Blake Bortles & Co. are playing for the team’s first ever AFC South crown while Houston’s season ended when Deshaun Watson tore his ACL.
The oddsmakers understand each team’s motivation (or lack thereof) and opened the Jaguars as 11-point favorites at home. This is just the third time in Bortles’ career that the quarterback is favored by 7 or more points (he is 2-0 ATS in the previous games). All signs point to Jacksonville, except for this trend.
Teams that lost their previous head-to-head matchup and are double-digit underdogs in a division game are 89-59-5 (60.1%) ATS since 2003. This follows the larger trend that teams getting 10 or more points in a division game are 107-78-5 (57.8%) ATS.
Money is pouring in on Jacksonville (nearly 70% of spread dollars) but bettors could be disappointed on Sunday as the Texans are live dogs, even with a third-string quarterback and nothing to play for other than revenge.
Deciding the NFC West
The Rams and Seahawks each stumbled in Week 14 but the losses will quickly be forgotten as the teams prepare to meet at CenturyLink Field with first place on the line. Los Angeles currently holds the lead in the NFC West but Seattle can take over the top spot with a win by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are 2-point favorites at home but will have their hands full with Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. The Rams are second in the league in scoring, averaging 30.5 points per game. Despite Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas all missing multiple games this season, the Seahawks defense has allowed 19.4 points per game, ranking 8th in defensive DVOA.
The betting market is evenly split with neither team attracting lopsided action. This will be one of the most bet games of the week, which team is worth your wager?
We have a Pro System for this game that is 438-343-24 ATS since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $7,436 following this betting strategy.