Makinen: Handicapping NFL Week 15 using previous trends

December 13, 2022 08:40 PM

Since I’ve been with VSiN, I have followed a general routine when it comes to the NFL articles I have released. In Week 1, I analyze a collection of past opening week trends that have thrived when considering stats and records from the prior season. In Week 2, I break down the overreactions from the opening games from a trend perspective. In Week 3, I shared information based on my belief that it’s always the biggest trap week, with oddsmakers making early, but often wrong, presumptions about teams. From Week 4 on, I begin sharing the systems and concepts that I believe will carry bettors for the rest of the season.

I focus on a different subject matter each week, but in general, I feel that the handicapping strategies that I introduce should serve as a library of sorts for savvy bettors, and I always encourage them to keep the material around while updating and utilizing it the rest of the way, because that’s what I do. With that in mind, I thought I would take Week 15 to review most or all the stuff I have produced since the calendar flipped to October, fitting the best and most successful angles to this week’s matchups.

A quick review of all the articles I have written since Week 4 shows I have focused on these NFL subjects:

  • Extreme Stats Next Game Systems
  • Pre-Bye Week Analysis
  • Primetime Games Trends and Systems
  • Post-Bye Week Analysis
  • My Favorite Matchup Trends Detailed on the Website
  • True Home Field Advantage
  • True Road Field Performance
  • Team Performance Levels in Rematch Games
  • Head Coach Performance Records in Post-Thanksgiving Day Games
  • Simulating the Rest of the Season by Power Rankings
  • Top QB Betting Angles

I feel this wide-ranging approach to handicapping gives bettors a breadth of info on which to build their NFL betting knowledge base. And that, of course, leads to better consistency and overall long-term success.

The hardest part for me, however, has always been in recollecting all of the key nuggets I have found over the course of the season. That’s where my NFL feature article for the week comes from. I am going to look back through all of those articles over the last 11 weeks and point out key tidbits that are in play for this week’s games. Enjoy the analysis as I do the homework for you!

NFL Extreme Stat Next-Game Systems

Unfortunately, none of the extreme stat next-game systems that I focused on in Week 4 will be in play for this week’s game. I have continued to share these angles in my conversations with Brent Musburger on Countdown to Kickoff, including last week when we discussed the reasons to fade the Cowboys (vs. Houston) and back the Ravens (at Pittsburgh).

Pre-Bye Week Analysis

The bye week shave concluded for the season as has, of course, the pre-bye week analysis. Most of the systems I pointed out continued to do very well this season, including #2, which was 6-1 ATS this season and suggested to back teams heading into their bye week versus divisional rivals. This analysis will return next fall.

Primetime Games Trends and Systems

One of my favorite tidbits in the primetime games' trends and systems article focused on the time of the year in Thursday night games:

  • There has been some interesting data regarding the first and second half of the season in terms of Thursday night games. In the first half of the season, or Weeks 1-8, home teams have gone 15-13 SU but 7-20-1 ATS (25.9%). However, home-field advantage has really picked up in the second half of the season in recent years, with week 9-16 home teams going 11-9 SU and ATS (75%) in that same time span. Going back even further, since 2016, TNF home teams in Weeks 9 and later are 27-15 SU and 27-13-2 ATS (67.5%). There seems to be a fundamental edge to playing at home with less rest late in the season.

Since I wrote this, the TNF home teams in Weeks 5-8 went 1-3 SU and ATS. The Weeks 9-14 TNF hosts were 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS, thus continuing the pattern. For Week 15, this would obviously favor the Seahawks at home versus the 49ers.

  • Another key angle pointed out that home-field advantage has been big in divisional Sunday night football games of late, with hosts owning a 15-6 SU and 14-6-1 ATS (70%) record since 2019.

Since then, the host Eagles defeated the Cowboys in Week 6, and the Chargers nearly upset the Chiefs in Week 11, running the recent record of the trend to 16-7 SU and 16-6-1 ATS (72.7%).

This angle would serve to benefit Washington (-4.5) in this coming Sunday's game versus the Giants.

  • Finally, for the Monday night games, laying a lot of points has not been a good strategy on MNF for a while, as favorites of seven points or more are 41-10 SU but just 18-31-2 ATS (37%) since ’12. This includes a blowout win by the 49ers in Week 11, plus outright losses by both Philadelphia in Week 10 and New England in Week 7.

This angle would suggest backing the LA Rams (+7.5) in their upcoming MNF game at Green Bay.

Post-Bye Week Analysis

As I mentioned earlier, the bye weeks have concluded. However, we do have our final six NFL teams coming out of their bye weeks this weekend. Here’s some of the key info that will apply to those teams’ games:

Post-Bye Week System #3:

Play AGAINST HOME UNDERDOGS coming out of their bye week. (Record: 32-11 SU and 27-15-1 ATS since ’99, 64.3%, +10.5 Units, 24.4% R.O.I., Grade 62)

This system is 2-2 SU and ATS in 2022 and for this week, applies to Chicago +8.5 versus Philadelphia

Post-bye Week System #4:

Play OVER the total in games involving posted totals of less than 40 with teams coming out of their bye week. (Record: 24-12-1 since ’10, 66.7%, +10.8 Units, 29.2% R.O.I., Grade 62)

This system is 0-1 in 2022 and for this week, applies to the Rams/Packers (39.5) game on Monday night

Post-Bye Week Team Trends for Week 15

ATLANTA: Post-bye week game: 12/18 - at New Orleans

• Atlanta is on a 13-5 SU and 12-6 ATS run in its last 18 post-bye week games

• The Falcons are 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight post-bye week road games but did lose at New Orleans in ‘2020

CHICAGO: Post-bye week game: 12/18 - PHILADELPHIA

• Chicago has lost its last eight post-bye week games SU and ATS, outscored by 13.8 PPG

• The Bears have lost their last three post-bye week games as a home underdog, both SU and ATS

GREEN BAY: Post-bye week game MON 12/19 versus LA RAMS

• Green Bay is just 11-1 SU and 6-5-1 ATS in its last 12 post-bye week home games

• The Packers are 5-0 UNDER the total in their last 5 post-bye week games versus non-divisional NFC foes

INDIANAPOLIS: Post-bye week game 12/18 at Minnesota

• Indianapolis has gone 14-3 SU and 12-4-1 ATS in its last 17 post-bye week games overall

• The Colts are on a seven games SU post-bye week road winning streak, having gone 6-1 ATS

NEW ORLEANS: Post-bye week game 12/18 versus ATLANTA

• New Orleans has lost three straight post-bye week games ATS after going 9-1 ATS in such contests prior

• The Saints are 2-5 ATS in their last seven post-bye week games against division opponents

WASHINGTON: Post-bye week game 12/18 versus NY GIANTS

• Washington is just 4-10 SU and 2-12 ATS in its last 14 post-bye week games but did beat Tampa Bay last year

• The Redskins are on an 8-2-1 OVER the total surge in their last 11 post-bye week games versus divisional rivals

My favorite matchup trends detailed on the website

These trends can be taken right off the web pages by clicking on the line NFL Lines & Scores under the NFL tab. Simply find the game you are handicapping and browse to the TEAM TRENDS link. Might I suggest one such as Baltimore (+3) is on a 13-2 ATS run in its last 15 games as a road underdog. The Ravens travel to Cleveland on Sunday.

True Home-Field Advantage

Recalling my article on NFL True Home Field Advantage from Week 9, the top five teams in terms of their recent home-field performance were Buffalo, Dallas, Baltimore, Green Bay, and New England. Of these five teams, Buffalo (vs. Miami) and Green Bay (vs. LA Rams) will be playing as hosts in Week 15. The lowest-rated performing teams at home at the time were the Chargers, Arizona, Carolina, the Jets, and Jacksonville. Of these teams, the following will be playing as hosts in week 15…LA Chargers (vs. Tennessee), Carolina (vs. Pittsburgh), NY Jets (vs. Detroit), and Jacksonville (vs. Dallas).

True Road-Field Performance

Looking back on the article on NFL Road-Field Performance from Week 10, the top five teams in terms of their recent road performance were Baltimore, Buffalo, Kansas City, and New Orleans. Of these teams, Baltimore (at Cleveland) and Kansas City (at Houston) will be playing as visitors in Week 15. The lowest-rated performing teams on the road at that time were Pittsburgh, the Jets, Detroit, Cleveland, and Jacksonville. Of these five teams, only Pittsburgh (at Carolina) and Detroit (at NY Jets) will be playing on the road in Week 15.

Team Performance Levels in Rematch Games

One of the primary reasons for my decision to put this article together for handicapping Week 15 was the feedback I received from a couple of readers last week reminding me of the amazing rematch angles regarding the Bengals. They have been phenomenal in that situation, and in that role, since I wrote the original article back in Week 11, they have gone 2-0 SU and ATS. Continuing along those lines, here are the angles that will be in play for the five rematch games scheduled for Week 15:

Best NFL rematch teams lately

  • New Orleans: 10-1 SU and ATS run (vs. Atlanta)
  • San Francisco: 9-4 SU and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 (at Seattle)

Worst NFL rematch teams lately

  • Cleveland: lengthy 6-23-1 ATS rematch skid in their last 30 (vs. Baltimore)

Best NFL HOME rematch teams lately

  • Buffalo: 10-4 SU and ATS in 14 home rematches, scoring 30.1 PPG (vs. Miami)

Worst NFL HOME rematch teams lately

  • Cleveland: Lost their last 12 home rematch games ATS, 4-8 SU (vs. Baltimore)
  • Washington: Current seven-game SU losing streak, 1-6 ATS (vs. NY Giants)

Best NFL ROAD rematch teams lately

  • Baltimore: 13-2 ATS in their last 15 rematch road games (at Cleveland)
  • San Francisco: 6-2 SU and 7-1 ATS in their last eight (at Seattle)

Worst NFL REVENGE teams lately

  • Cleveland: 2-10 SU & 1-10-1 ATS L12 revenge games (vs. Baltimore)

Best NFL teams in rematches after winning the last game lately

  • San Francisco: 7-1 SU & ATS L8 (at Seattle)

Noteworthy NFL head-to-head second time (and third) around trends

  • Baltimore: 6-1 SU and ATS in last seven rematches versus Cleveland
  • New Orleans: 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS run versus Atlanta

Head Coach Performance Records in Post-Thanksgiving Day Games

In Week 12, I looked back at the late-season performance records for head coaches in the NFL, specifically, games dated Thanksgiving or later. Here are two of the top trends I produced that day that will be in play for Week 15.

* Bill Belichick (New England) is 29-14 OVER the total (67%) vs. conference foes. Average Score was Team: 29, Opponent: 19 on Average Total of 43.9 – at Las Vegas

Steve's Analysis: This angle shows just how well Belichick’s offenses have performed in games down the stretch against fellow AFC foes. This includes a 4-2 OVER record in the 2021 season with Mac Jones as his quarterback. In fact, in the last three games last season, the Patriots put up 31.7 PPG.

* Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland) is 3-3 SU but 0-6 ATS (0%) in divisional games. Average Score was Team: 22.5, Opponent: 24.8 on Average Line of -2.1 – vs. Baltimore

Steve's Analysis: The Browns already lost on this trend last week at Cincinnati, running the record to 3-4 SU and 0-7 ATS.

Simulating the Rest of the Season by Power Ratings

This Week 13 piece was designed mostly for futures’ wagers, giving bettors an advantage in looking at the divisional, conference, and playoff qualifying odds available at the time. The forecasted point spreads in that article should also still be of value, as they can quickly uncover spots in which point spreads moved a great deal in the week since. For instance, at that time, I projected that the Jets would be a 5.6-point favorite over the Lions at home for their Week 15 matchup. The actual odds show Detroit as the road favorite. Is this a massive overreaction by oddsmakers to a few home wins in a row by the Lions? We’ll see.

Top QB Betting Angles

My article from last week in the NFL revolved around the top quarterback betting angles among starters in the league. These are the trends I shared that will be in play for week 15:

* Tom Brady (TB) is 9-3 SU and 10-1-1 ATS (91%) as a home underdog. The average line was +4, Team average PF: 31.8

Steve’s thoughts: This is another angle that has been very rare, as Brady has only been a home underdog 12 times in his illustrious career, winning 75% of those opportunities outright and 91% against the Vegas number. Like Mahomes on the road angle above, Brady’s home dog teams have scored very well, 31.8 PPG. This trend will be tested when the Bucs host surging Cincinnati.

* Jared Goff (DET) is 8-17 SU but 17-8 ATS (68%) with current Head Coach Dan Campbell. The average line was +5.8, Team average PF: 22.5

Steve’s thoughts: Including a 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS record in the last five games, the combination of Goff and Campbell has produced big profits for bettors for the last two seasons. In the last 16 games the Lions have played with this combination, they have scored 29 points or more nine times. Goff got another win at home against Minnesota last week and has the Jets coming up.

* Justin Fields (CHI) is 4-14 SU and 5-13 ATS (28%) in Sunday games. The average line was +4.6, Team average PF: 19.6

Steve’s thoughts: Unfortunately for the Bears, almost all of the team’s games are on Sundays. Only the elite teams are moved to the special day and time games throughout the season schedule. Fields is making measurable progress as both a runner and passer as a quarterback, however, and hopefully, his struggles in trends like this can turn in the near future. As it stands, Chicago has three Sunday games remaining, including an out-of-the-bye-week matchup on the 18th versus Philadelphia.

* Patrick Mahomes (KC) is 17-1 SU and 7-10-1 ATS (17%) in his last 18 games as a favorite of more than 7 points. The average line was -11.1, Team average PF: 28.6

Steve’s thoughts: Admit it, you are surprised by this trend, as it seems that Mahomes has been proficient in almost every spread betting scenario that comes along. In truth, however, the Chiefs have struggled in the last favorite role, as they tend to play down to the competition. The fact that they are scoring 28.6 PPG in the large chalk role as compared to 36+ PPG as road underdogs with Mahomes is at the least, statistically unusual. This trend saw another win/no-cover by the Chiefs last week at Denver, and for Week 15, they are a huge favorite at Houston.

* Trevor Lawrence (JAC) is 0-9 SU and ATS (0%) in non-conference games. The average line was +4.6, Team average PF: 14.6

Steve’s thoughts: In Lawrence’s early career, his Jaguars have gone 0-9 SU and ATS to date versus NFC foes, the latest loss a brutal 40-14 shellacking by the Lions. Up next on this trend is a game versus red-hot Dallas at home on 12/18. Assuredly, Jacksonville will need to score more than that 14.6 PPG average to hang in the game with the explosive Cowboys.

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