If you’re one of the millions of people who have to roll out of bed and immediately go to work, you’ll be sympathetic toward the San Diego Chargers this week. They’re on the wrong side of our spotlight NFL betting trend for Week 3.
Jason’s record after Week 1: 1-4 ATS, 0-1 Totals
Profit: minus-6.6 units
Never count out the San Diego Chargers. They had a bit of a rough go in their season-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but the Bolts still got paid, and they made it 2-0 ATS after upsetting the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. A commendable performance against two of the toughest teams on the West Coast.
Now let’s see how San Diego plays after a very long flight and a very short snooze. The Chargers have a Week 3 date with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Not only are the Bills magically undefeated this year at 2-0 SU and ATS, they’ve also got the NFL betting trends on their side in this matchup. And it all has to do with the time-space continuum.
Rocket to the Future
You may have already guessed that we’re talking about the famous “West Coast teams playing early Sunday games on the East Coast” trend. Indeed we are; if you look at the five Pacific teams as a group (including the Cardinals), going into the 2014 regular season, they were a combined 55-69 ATS in 1:00 p.m. ET starts back East over the past 11 seasons.
Why does this happen? There are two added advantages for the home team in this scenario. Firstly, the visitors are coming to your town on a transcontinental flight, and those flights take a physical toll. Imagine Chargers RT D.J. Fluker squeezing his 6-foot-5, 340-pound frame into even the most comfortable airline seat. By the way, it takes about 4 1/2 hours to fly non-stop from San Diego to Buffalo.
Secondly, 1:00 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone is 10:00 a.m. Pacific (11:00 a.m. Mountain Time for the Cardinals). That’s pretty early for a football game. Plus, it takes about four hours for players to wake up, shower, eat, travel to the stadium, and get their prep work in for the game itself. You may or may not be used to getting up at six in the morning. Most of these gentlemen are not.
If this were later in the season (say, after Thanksgiving), we’d add a third advantage for the home side: Lousy weather. Road teams from the sunny West Coast are traditionally up against it when they have to travel long distances to play in good, old-fashioned football conditions. Keep that in mind when the Chargers have to visit the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.
However, as with any NFL betting trend, you don’t want to bet the farm on it continuing. Last year saw the West Coast teams go an amazing 9-2 ATS in early East Coast matinees. That includes 2-1 ATS by the Chargers in their first season under new head coach Mike McCoy. It also includes the Oakland Raiders going 2-0 ATS for Dennis Allen, a strong turnaround from the 1-4 ATS record they posted during his maiden voyage in 2012. Oakland’s Week 3 matchup is in Foxboro against the New England Patriots.
As we’ve discussed when looking at NFL preseason betting trends, preparation is one of those things that head coaches have a direct say in. Perhaps McCoy has the right approach to beat the NFL odds in this scenario. And perhaps Allen has it all figured out now; he led the Raiders into the New Meadowlands in Week 1 and escaped with a payday in their 19-14 loss to the New York Jets (–6.5). But if you’re looking at trends, the larger sample size collected over the past 11 years is much more useful than a small handful of games. Bet accordingly.