Several times during the season we find teams suiting up without a full week to mend the wounds and heal the bruises. But is there a sure-fire recipe to turn tired teams into winning NFL picks?
Top 5 Considerations
Travel - How do you feel after a cross-country flight? The legs are stiff, your clothes are wrinkled and you don't smell that great either. The first thing I think of is a hot shower, a cold drink and a comfortable bed. The time change only adds to the jet lag you're feeling and the little gym they have in your hotel will solely be used as a fish bowl to watch women in spandex working up a sweat while you work up an appetite...for watching more women in spandex.
Now I grant you the average professional athlete will be flying in a chartered jet built for large humans allowing plenty of room. But being up in the air for several hours at a time is a drag whether you are flying commercial or not. The more time in the clouds the longer it takes to adjust and I can tell you that once the team lands in hostile territory it's game on. Practices on a foreign field, meetings in unfamiliar conference rooms and of course hotel food all contribute to the many obstacles any road team faces let alone one running on a short week. If the team on the short week is on the road for the second consecutive week or longer then get the fade train ready to roll.
Quality of Opponent - We often look at a team's record to determine the quality of the opponent but it isn't that simple. Look at what kind of team this short week team matches up well and poorly against. Be careful about dismissing a team because of its record because a bad team can boast a quality run stop unit and if the traveling team is all about the run then it could get very dicey especially for a club on a short week and on the highway.
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Coaches Count - Do some research and find out how a coach has fared throughout his career when faced with a short week. Some coaches adapt quite well while others are completely discombobulated due to their fractured schedule. Chances are his history will tell the tale.
Short Weeks Are Public Knowledge - And by public I mean the squares who will use this short week scenario to pontificate from the mountaintops and to anyone who will listen how tough it is for teams to win and cover the NFL odds without a full week of practice under their belts and on the road no less. That's like a little kid learning a big word. He wants everyone to know about it even if he uses it in the wrong context. Beware of squares overplaying this angle.
Experience - As in life there is no substitute for experience. Veteran teams that have stable rosters and who have played as a unit for several years understand the pitfalls and the challenges that come when playing an opponent on a short week. Team leaders will routinely step up and warn the younger guys and rookies about the vast potential for mistakes and fatigue. Young teams have a propensity to lose outright even as road favorites. Be careful and do your homework, know the roster and make sure that whenever you include a team in your NFL picks that you have thoroughly researched and forged an opinion based on solid information and not on blind faith and public perception.