With the recent legalization of sports betting in the United States, gambling is at the forefront of many conversations when it comes to sports right now. Due to the boom in popularity, spreads, totals, and props are casually talked about on major television broadcasts — a stark contrast to its taboo nature in the past. But with sports betting dominating the headlines, it’s important to keep in mind which trends are useful and which ones aren’t when placing your wagers.
Not all NFL trends are created equal. The truth is that some of them are downright useless. The NFL’s scheduling formula ensures that all teams will play every team from every division in the other conference once every four years.
If you’re looking at a trend in a game between an AFC and NFC team that goes back further than two games, you’ve created a 12-year window of past results. In that instance, seeing that one side has covered in each of the last three meetings might seem appealing at first, but the immense roster turnover between both clubs in that span makes it meaningless in handicapping.
The Bucs are an Over Bettors’ Dream
Instead, examining present-day numbers for trends can be a much more profitable strategy. The best example from the 2019 NFL regular season is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On paper, the Bucs and their 7-9 record don’t look like anything special, but totals bettors loved them all year long.
Tampa Bay finished the campaign with an over/under record of 12-4, making them the top over team in the league. The Bucs scored 458 points and allowed 449 since Jameis Winston did a great job of both scoring and turning the ball over (33 touchdowns, 30 interceptions).
Andy Reid’s Teams are Lights-Out Off the Bye
Another trend that deserves recognition is how Andy Reid-coached teams perform after a bye. In Reid’s 21-year career, he’s 18-3 coming out of a bye week in the regular season. That trend extends into the playoffs, as Reid’s squads have gone a perfect 6-0 in the Divisional Round when earning a bye through Wild Card Weekend. That includes Kansas City’s 51-31 triumph over the Houston Texans as the No. 2 seed in this year’s postseason.
The Seahawks Love Playing in Primetime
Since Pete Carroll took over as head coach in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks have been the best team in the NFL when playing in regular-season prime-time games. Including the 2019 campaign, Seattle is 29-7-1 in primetime, and that’s with a sparkling 19-3 home record. The Seahawks improved to 9-1 in Thursday Night Football contests after beating the division-rival Los Angeles Rams 30-29 at CenturyLink Field in Week 5.
Does that mean you should blindly bet the Seahawks in primetime regardless of the matchup? Not necessarily, as Seattle lost its final two primetime games of 2019 after winning its first three (Week 14 vs. the Rams in SNF and Week 17 vs. the San Francisco 49ers in MNF).
Similar to the Buccaneers’ recent penchant for going over totals and Reid’s dominance off the bye, these trends simply serve as a starting point for bettors to lay the handicapping groundwork when examining the upcoming slate of NFL games. Past results don’t necessarily dictate future outcomes, but when used correctly, making yourself aware of select NFL trends can help you become a successful football bettor.
Luke Miller is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Luke, check out his archive.