Situational trends can be valuable for bettors in certain spots. Sunday night games offer favorable conditions. Check out these tips when betting on the NFL's feature game this coming season.
Considered the feature event of the NFL weekend, nearly every bettor has a stake in the Sunday night game. On air for nearly three decades, ESPN broadcasted the prime time telecast from 1987-2005, though the game assumed added significance and increasing popularity when NBC acquired rights in 2006. Since switching over to the traditional network-era carrier, the feature has held the top spot as America’s most watched television series according to Nielsen in four of the last five years. The NFL’s flexible-scheduling system, implemented also in 2006, allows NBC to select the matchups 12 days in advance for the later part of the regular season (with some exceptions), ensuring quality games. Sunday night games provide bettors with unique situations, presenting confidence-inducing trends worth considering when making NFL picks this upcoming 2016-17 NFL season. Let us look at a few.
The Sunday night game, like its Monday night counterpart, sees a ton of wagering action. It is the only game scheduled for its time slot, is broadcast on national television, and is often a “chase” game for recreational bettors looking to make up for losses or extend gains from the afternoon. Heavy public action tends to lean towards favorites and the OVER in these standalone games, but as you could surmise, neither present an edge over time. Since 1990, dogs are 203-192-9 (51%) ATS in Sunday night games with the OVER going 201-195-8 (51 percent).
One situation that has rewarded bettors during this span is when AFC and NFC teams clash. Since 1990, the OVER is 53-33 in inter-conference meetings on Sunday night, surpassing the total by an average of 3.5 points. Why? Maybe it is the unfamiliarity between teams, coupled with some sort of intangibles surrounding the game’s prime-time slot accounting for the advantage. This edge will deteriorate over time, but keep this trend in mind when making picks this season. NBC has three inter-conference matchups penciled in for the upcoming campaign, and it is likely more will be added. The first two Sunday night features see a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl between the Panthers and Broncos in Denver in Week 1, while the Tom Brady-less Patriots visit Arizona in Week 2. Also on the docket is Seattle at New England on November 13.
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NBC’s use of the NFL’s flexible-scheduling system presents unique conditions to profit from as well. Although there are several exceptions and quirks to the procedure, the network essentially has its choice of Sunday scheduled games to select for its prime-time slot from Week 10 forward in the regular season, barring roughly two weeks notification. As a result, virtually every contest has some sort of playoff significance. This privilege provides added meaning to these contests, and potentially separates them form other prime-time games from a contextual standpoint. This could offer value.
For example, since 2006, bettors have seen 12 games kick off with a spread of 9 points or greater from Week 10 forward. The chalk is 12-0 SU and 7-5 ATS versus a 12.7-point average line; nothing out of the ordinary here. What is notable, is that the favorite has put up 31 points or more in all but one game, pushing the score to go over the total in each by a whopping 11.5 points on average. Not one of the underdogs allowed more than 31 points per game on defense entering the contest, and only four of the winning offenses averaged more points on the year. Tired defenses, coupled with a postseason hunting team against lesser, provides an opportunity for bettors cashing the OVER here.
Another short-term trend worth noting is that away dogs are 30-15 ATS with an average 5.8 line in Week 10 games and beyond since 2006. The tighter the number, the more success, too. When the line closes below five points, dogs are 21-3 ATS and 18-6 SU at 3.0 average odds. Implying +135 money line NFL odds, backing them to win outright has presented a little more than 30 percent advantage for investors. Although the schedule and spreads are likely to change, advanced NFL lines show three Sunday night road dogs to circle on the calendar: the Week 13 Panthers at Seahawks (-3) matchup, Week 14 when the Cowboys take on the Giants (-1.5) at MetLife Stadium, and the Week 16 tilt between the Broncos and Chiefs (-1.5) on Christmas Day.