Football is an unpredictable sport. It’s become the norm for teams to bounce back from losing seasons and make deep playoff runs. Just look at the 2019 San Francisco 49ers, for example.
With so much parity in the NFL, looking at past results to try to predict future outcomes doesn’t always pan out. That’s why sports bettors who rely on trends need to be picky and choose which ones to put their faith into. Otherwise, they run the risk of getting burned.
Be Cautious With AFC vs. NFC Trends
Not all trends are created equal. In fact, some of them are essentially useless. Given how much turnover there is in the NFL, rosters for all 32 teams can look completely different from one year to the next.
In case you were unaware, the NFL’s scheduling formula ensures that all teams play every team from every division in the other conference once every four years. That means 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.
Let’s say the Green Bay Packers are 4-0 against the spread in their last four meetings with the Baltimore Ravens. If you’re looking at that trend and blindly bet the Packers, you’re handicapping poorly.
Not only did you include a game from 12 years ago in your reasoning to bet Green Bay, but you also didn’t factor in how different the Ravens’ offense is under Lamar Jackson as opposed to how it worked under Joe Flacco. Flacco was a pocket passer, while Jackson recently broke Michael Vick’s record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season. It’s a night and day contrast and should be treated as such.
New Faces in New Places
The landscape of the NFL has changed drastically over the past few years. The Rams packed up and moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles prior to the 2016 season. The Chargers followed suit, departing San Diego in favor of L.A in 2017. The Oakland Raiders are set to begin a new era in Las Vegas for the 2020 campaign.
With all of this movement, historic trends concerning these three clubs need to be thrown out the window. Not to mention the Chargers have been playing in a soccer stadium for the last few years, which has made home-field advantage virtually non-existent.
If someone tells you they’re betting the over in a Monday Night Football contest involving the Rams, consider the circumstances surrounding the bet. Sure, the trend might tell you that the over has cashed in 80 percent of Rams MNF appearances dating back to 2010, but the majority of those games were played in Missouri.
When the Raiders open Week 1 of the 2020 season, don’t make the mistake of allowing any results from the Oakland years to factor into your gambling decisions. Trends need to be taken with a grain of salt. They can still be useful at times, but if you let them be the main source of your handicapping, you’ll likely find yourself on the losing end of the sports betting spectrum more often than not.
Luke Miller is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Luke, check out his archive.