Betting Tips for Handicapping Projected NFL Season Win Total Odds

Posted by Aaron . on June 14, 2016 in

Picking NFL winners in regular season win totals can be one of the toughest tasks in sports betting, largely because the picks are subject to several non-static factors like suspensions, injuries, unexpected breakouts, surprising regressions and coaching changes, among other factors. The only things we are usually aware of before the new season are the game schedules and dates, along with potential starters and NFL betting records between various teams. The job of reading between the NFL lines and finding value all comes down to us. So how then do we handicap NFL’s projected win totals the right way? There’s really no singular way to do this, but you can find great success when handicapping regular season NFL total odds by combining the online sportsbetting tips highlighted below.

Betting Tips for Handicapping Projected NFL Season Win Total Odds



Understanding the Scheduling Formula and Changes in the NFL

Under the formula implemented by the league in 2002, every team in the league usually plays 16 games across 17 weeks (with one bye week each) as follows:

  • 3 Home and 3 away games against its three division opponents (totaling to six games).
  • Playing 4 teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (totaling to 4 games per year from that division).
  • Playing 4 teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (totaling to 4 games per year from that division).
  • Playing 2 intra-conference games based on the previous year’s league standings (totaling to 2games). These games usually match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions that the team isn’t scheduled to play that given season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams within a conference are similarly matched that way every year.
  • Since the start of the 2010 season, a change was made in the league regarding how teams are paired in the schedule rotation to ensure that teams playing the NFC West and AFC West divisions would not be required to make two West Coast trips (i.e. at Seattle and at San Francisco), while other teams within their division had none (e.g. at Arizona and at St. Louis).

Based on the above formula, you can easily find a team playing a top-5 easy schedule this season, followed by the toughest schedule in the next season. This is a key reason why there is often a big disparity in the performances by some teams, especially the middle-table candidates, when the schedules change from easy to hard and vice versa. The only teams that often maintain consistency are perennial strong performers (who often do well even with tough schedules) and perennial poor performance (who often do badly even with soft schedules).

Needless to say, exercises such as the NFL draft, free agency signings and the hiring of new coaches can, however, change this sequence of dominance by the perennial strong performers, with new elites resultantly emerging from these exercises. With that, you should be able to watch such exercises and factor in the changes accordingly, particularly by following teams and their roster/personnel changes in the offseason and the potential impact of those changes. For example, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders have been among the poor performing teams in the NFL since 2010, but the drafting of QBs Derek Carr and Blake Bortles, along with the progressive addition of some talented pieces on both sides of the ball, has seen both teams close the gap on the elites. It is based on such changes that both the 2016 Raiders and 2016 Jags are amongst the teams prospected to improve in 2016, as is reflected in their projected NFL win totals. To handicap your totals the right way, you should be ready to vet and analyze such projections rather than just stick to underrating such teams on the basis of their poor performances in the past seasons.

Handicapping the Bye Week

NFL history indicates that a bye week can have a positive or negative impact on a team’s performance, depending on factors such as momentum, coaching formulas, the team in question and the game that comes after the bye (i.e. whether it is at home or away. But then again, NFL betting history also tells us that there is no correlative relationship between the timing of bye week on the season and its eventual success. If anything, teams that have early byes seemingly have more success, though with evidence on a relative scale. So, in short, it is important to analyze bye weeks on a case to case basis and find how they could influence upcoming games rather than generalize your trends, as each case is often different.

Long Road Trips and Short Weeks

Generally speaking, long road trips and short weeks tend to drain players, often making it hard for them to perform at their best. This, in turn, often leads to poor performances by such players and their teams. Nonetheless, all schedules are never created equally, so this general statement should be taken with a grain of salt, especially keeping in mind how strong and deep the team roster is. In the 2016 NFL season, for instance, the Jets and Texans have four different short weeks, with the New Yorkers particularly having it rough with a top-7 tough schedule in 2016 after a top-5 soft strength of schedule in 2015. Explicably, after opening the season at home in Week 1 on a Sunday, they travel to Buffalo for a Thursday night game against the Bills on four days’ rest. This is followed by a game against Baltimore on Sunday after playing they face Arizona on a Monday night. Then, later in the year, they have another six day back-to-back. With such a schedule, winning becomes quite hard, not only because of fatigue, but injuries can pile up pretty fast.

Road trips have a more-or-less similar effect as short weeks, but once again, it all depends on the team playing. A good example is the Packers and Redskins, who both have stretches of three road games. In Washington’s case, this schedule appears unfavorable; as the team’s longest home trip lasts just two weeks, meaning the Redskins won’t be enjoying more than two weeks of playing at home without hitting the road. Given that Washington is an in-transition team that belongs in a tough division; such a schedule opens the door for lack of concentration/motivation that can easily beget losses.

Conversely, the Packers do have a three-game road stretch, but they also have a four-game homestand during the fall. Having the road trip is therefore not much of a big deal, as the four-game homestand is likely to make all the much difference, especially because the Green Bay franchise has had the Lambeau field as a homely fortress.

1st Half vs. 2nd Half Scheduling

Another general rule is that teams that have their easiest schedules early in the year can get some easy wins, which can motivate them for good finishes or at least give them some wiggle room for few mistakes, as opposed to starting with a demoralizing tough schedule before getting an easy one when you’ve almost given up on doing well. I mean, it is much easier to start the year 7-1 and finish 9-7 if you are targeting 9 wins than start 2-6 and then rally up for a 9-7 finish when the season is all but finished and teams are fighting for their playoff lives at the end of the season. When handicapping season win totals in NFL futures, it is therefore important that you consider how the 1st half and 2nd half of the season compare to each other and the kind of impact the strengths of these schedules can affect a whole season’s performance.

Handicapping the Non-Static Essentials…

As was mentioned in the intro, non-static factors like injuries, suspensions and coaching changes can easily affect a season’s totals. The 2015 Dallas Cowboys and the 2015 Indianapolis Colts are good examples of how injuries can derail your season quickly, while the 2015 Miami Dolphins typify how coaching changes in the course of the season can impact NFL teams. With that in mind, you should be ready to adjust your predictions accordingly when you notice such changes. Like live betting, making such changes during the season can change your fortunes positively, helping you recoup losses from misplaced early season bets or allowing you to maximize profits on correct early season picks.