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NFL Week 1: A Great Time to Exploit Betting Biases from Last Year

Sep 05, 2018 6:07 AM EDT
  • Week 1 provides an interesting gambling opportunity, since many bettors are basing their bets off a team's performance from the previous season.
  • That would not be a wise strategy, though, as bad teams from the previous year have done well against the spread and good teams have fared poorly.
  • There have been some highly profitable spots when last year's bad team takes on a good team.

The season’s about to begin, and you know what everyone is thinking about? Last season. All they can think about is whether the team was good or bad in 2017. They remember whether the teams helped them cash or not.

Guess what? It’s a new friggin’ season. The teams that sucked last year might not suck this year, and last year’s cash cows are bound to come back to earth.

Using Bet Labs, I’ve found some Week 1 trends based on the team’s previous season performance that are ripe for profits.

Record

  • Teams with six wins or fewer: 77-53-3 (59.2%)
  • Teams with 10 wins or more: 59-77-3 (43.4%)

Since the NFL is such a short season and it’s tough to gauge how much a team has improved — if at all — during the offseason, many folks will do their best just by looking at a team’s record from the previous season.

While that can be a good measuring stick at times, teams can get very lucky or unlucky, allowing their win percentage to swing by 10% or more.

In Week 1, poor teams (those with six or fewer wins) from the previous year have excelled against the spread, while strong teams (10 or more wins) from the previous season have done poorly.

It’s not bettors’ faults, though, as oddsmakers are the ones setting the line. It surely plays in their favor, though, as the poor teams have had the majority of bets in just 31.6% of the games, while the teams with 10+ wins have had the majority of bets nearly 60% of the time.

With that said, I’d be willing to guess that oddsmakers have a better idea of where the line should be, but want to take advantage of these misconceived notions based on the previous season.

In case you don’t know last year’s records off the top of your head (I also didn’t)…

6 wins or fewer

  • Browns (0-16): +4 vs. PIT
  • Giants (3-13): +3 vs. JAX
  • Texans (4-12): +6.5 at NE
  • Colts (4-12): -3 vs. CIN
  • Bears (5-11): +7.5 at GB
  • Bucs (5-11): +9.5 at NO
  • Jets (5-11): +6.5 at DET
  • Broncos (5-11): -3 vs. SEA
  • Dolphins (6-10): +1 vs. TEN
  • Raiders (6-10): +4 vs. LAR
  • 49ers (6-10): +6 at MIN

10 wins or more

  • Patriots (13-3): -6.5 vs. HOU
  • Eagles (13-3): -2 vs. ATL
  • Vikings (13-3): -6 vs. SF
  • Rams (11-5): -4 at OAK
  • Saints (11-5): -9.5 vs. NYJ
  • Panthers (11-5): -3 vs. DAL
  • Jaguars (10-6): -3 at NYG
  • Chiefs (10-6): +3 at LAC
  • Falcons (10-6): +2 at PHI

There are some similar trends based on whether a team made or missed the postseason in the previous campaign.

Postseason 

  • Missed postseason: 135-118-6 (53.4%)
  • Made postseason: 68-85-2  (44.4%)
  • Missed vs. made: 52-35-2 (59.8%)

Not quite as strong as the previous two systems when looked at on their own, but when a playoff team plays some random bum team from the year before, the random bum team has covered about 60% of the time.

This year’s made vs. missed matches include:

  • PIT at CLE (+4)
  • SF (+6) at MIN
  • BUF at BAL (-7.5)
  • JAX at NYG (+3)
  • TB (+9.5) at NO
  • HOU (+6.5) at NE
  • TEN at MIA (+1)
  • KC at LAC (-3)
  • DAL (+3) at CAR
  • LAR at OAK (+4)

You may be wondering if this also works in Week 2, and the answer is no, it does not. Week 1 has been the most profitable week of them all, while Week 2 has been the second-least profitable week of the season.

I decided to fiddle around with the systems a bit more and found some good stuff …

  • Six or fewer wins vs. postseason team: 33-16
  • Non-postseason team vs. 10+ wins: 8-0-1

Alas, there are no such matches this season for the perfect 100% system that can in no way ever lose, but keep it in mind for next year. Whenever you have an opportunity to put your life savings down on a sample with nine games, you essentially have to do it.

Credit:

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) signals to teammates during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Follow Mark Gallant on Twitter
@marky_money

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