Last year’s decision to increase the NFL playoff field to seven teams in each conference created an increased level of competition for the final spots and positioning. This year it seems to be building even bigger, as just three teams from each conference have little or no hope to reach the postseason. Furthermore, 13 AFC teams have from seven to 10 wins, as do eight in the NFC. Simply put, a lot is left to be determined in the final three weeks.
So what will separate the teams and clarify the playoff picture? It could be the same-season rematch games that will be played between divisional foes, so let’s examine some key trends and betting systems you should consider as you analyze these final three weeks.
Like any situational form of analysis, certain teams perform better than others in same-season rematches. Unsurprisingly, the teams that have generally been among the best in football over the past decade — such as the Patriots, Chiefs and Saints — are shown with the best records. Teams like the Jets, Jaguars and Browns have struggled in rematches the most.
Here’s some of the best information I found from my analysis of rematch data.
New Orleans is 19-6 ATS in its past 25 same-season rematches
Unfortunately, I didn’t write this report last week, when the Saints, who have been effective the second time around, took down the Buccaneers in dominant fashion Sunday night. New Orleans will have games against Carolina in Week 17 and Atlanta in Week 18. If the Saints win both, it could lead to another playoff berth.
Las Vegas is 6-12 ATS in its past 18 same-season rematches on the road, outscored 26.8-13.7, but is 5-2 ATS in its past seven such contests at home
The Raiders have fared poorly in same-season rematch games, regardless of whether they won or lost the previous matchup. They have been awful offensively on the road. But the Silver-and-Black lining is that they’ve been respectable in their recent home rematch games, and that could be important since two of their final three playoff-impacting games are at home against the Broncos and Chargers.
Cleveland is 6-21-1 ATS in its past 28 same-season rematch games and has gone Over the total in the past six while allowing 32.5 ppg
This trend could be of interest to point-spread bettors and fantasy football players since it seems that opponents have their way with the Browns’ defense the second time around. In Weeks 17 and 18, Cleveland will travel to Pittsburgh and host Cincinnati.
Indianapolis is on a 28-9 Under-the-total surge in its past 37 same-season rematch games
The 28 games in this trend that went Under have produced an average of about 36.3 ppg, while the rare Overs have seen 61.3 ppg, indicating a significant difference in pace and play between the outcomes. In general, though, three of every four Colts rematch contests trend toward the lower-scoring end. Keep that in mind for the season finale at Jacksonville.
Dallas is on a 17-7 Over-the-total surge in its past 24 same-season rematch games
This trend lost Sunday against the Giants at MetLife Stadium, but it does give some hope to Dallas fans who have watched QB Dak Prescott and the offense struggle in recent weeks, at least compared with where they were at midseason. In 12 of the 17 Over games, Dallas topped the 30-point mark. Over the next three weeks, coach Mike McCarthy’s team will have rematches against Washington and Philadelphia, and the past seven second-time-around games against the former have gone Over.
The preceding five trends have been team-specific betting angles. These are league-wide systems into which you can fit teams.
Teams that lost three or fewer weeks prior by double-digit margins are on a 22-9 ATS surge in the rematch contests.
Quick turnarounds have actually been favorable for teams that have lost decisively in previous games against a specific opponent. This would seem to go against common sense, but they are quick to adjust, leading to what has been a fairly successful contrarian betting system.
Teams that won by 21 or more points in the opening game are 67-20 SU and 55-32 ATS in the rematch.
I was somewhat surprised to see this definitive of a winning record on a trend of this nature, as point spreads are usually equalizers. However, it seems that the talent disparity in such mismatches just can’t be accounted for enough. From a coaching standpoint, losing games by 21 or more points requires more than the usual allotment of adjustments the second time around.