NFL Betting: Factors to Consider When Handicapping NFL Teams On Short Rest

Monday, July 25, 2016 9:32 PM UTC

Monday, Jul. 25, 2016 9:32 PM UTC

Every NFL team this season will play at least one game on short rest and some of the better clubs will do so multiple times. So what should you consider when betting NFL odds on those Thursday, Saturday or Monday games?

2016 Prime-Time Scheduling
The best and most popular teams are always chosen for Monday Night Football each season. But there's also a limit as to how many times a team can play on MNF. Eight teams have two appearances each this year: defending NFC champion Carolina PanthersChicago BearsHouston TexansMinnesota VikingsNew York Giants, New York Jets (all networks obviously love the massive New York market), Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. By the way, there's one MNF game in Mexico City this year: Houston vs. Oakland on Nov. 21.

Meanwhile, every team is guaranteed to play one Thursday game per season, either on the normal weekly Thursday night NFL Network game or on Thanksgiving -- Detroit always hosts the early Thanksgiving game and Dallas the afternoon one. A few years ago, the NFL added a night game on Turkey Day without a permanent host. There are no Monday or Thursday games in Week 17 so all teams have normal rest heading into the playoffs potentially.

Also, late in the year when college football's regular season is over, the NFL plays a few games on Saturdays. That starts Week 15 this year with the Dolphins at the Jets. But the following week is Christmas Eve and there are 12 games as the NFL didn't want a full slate on Christmas, which falls on Sunday this year.

So barring a game being moved up for weather or whatever reason, those are your short-week scenarios for the coming season.


Quick Turnarounds, Monday Hangovers
On average, the home team in an NFL season wins at home around 57 or 58 percent of the time. But I would argue the biggest betting advantage in football is the home team on that quick Thursday turnaround -- especially if the visiting team in that game also had to play on the road the previous Sunday. NFL players generally take until at least Wednesday to start feeling better after a Sunday game. And teams that have to travel on Wednesday obviously can't really practice. So that gives the home club a giant advantage. For the most part, the favorites cover the spread a little more than 60 percent of the time in Thursday games.

Of course, it's also important to note the opponent each team played before that quick turnaround. Pittsburgh is a Super Bowl contender this season. It has the misfortune of playing on the road on Sunday in Week 11 and then at Indianapolis on Thursday in Week 12. On the surface, that would seem to favor the Colts in a big way. But that Week 11 game for the Steelers is in Cleveland so that could mean a blowout win and perhaps getting the starters out of the game early. Seattle could be in for a major trap game on a Thursday in Week 15 at home vs. the Rams as the Sunday before that, the Seahawks play a huge one at Green Bay that could help determine the NFC's top seed.

I often like to bet 'under' the total on NFL odds in Thursday game because they are usually sloppy, penalty and turnover-filled affairs. The players are beaten up and they aren't as well prepared for the opposition. Last year we had games such as Seahawks 20, 49ers 3; Jaguars 19, Titans 13; Jets 19, Cowboys 16, etc.

As for Monday night games, when a team is at home on Monday and then at home the following Sunday, I don't believe there's a huge affect. However, when a team has to travel on  Monday and then on Sunday, that's important to note. Especially if it's a West Coast team playing away on a Monday and then a 1 p.m. ET time game the following Sunday as that's obviously 10 a.m. Pacific time. The NFL generally tries to prevent this but it's not always possible. In Week 1, San Francisco hosts the Rams in the late, late Monday night game (now there's a Week 1 doubleheader) and then has to play a 10 a.m. Pacific time game at Carolina in Week 2.

You can also find coaches' ATS records in Sunday games after Monday night ones. For instance, Baltimore's John Harbaugh is 4-7 ATS on NFL picks the Sunday after Monday night games. Last year, the Ravens were 0-2 in that regard. They lost in Arizona on Monday in Week 7 and did beat visiting San  Diego on Sunday in Week 8 but didn't cover. The Ravens won in Cleveland on Monday in Week 12 but lost in Miami in Week 13. The Packers are 4-8 ATS in Sunday games following Monday ones under Mike McCarthy. The Cowboys are 0-4 ATS under Jason Garrett. The Saints, meanwhile, are 10-5 ATS in that scenario under Sean Payton. 

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