Makinen: Betting the final three weeks of the NFL regular season

December 19, 2022 08:40 PM
McCaffrey

Consider these 14 betting systems based on the final three weeks of recent seasons

The NFL truly hits the stretch run with games spanning the Christmas weekend. Just three games remain on each team’s 2022 regular season slate, yet plenty of playoff positioning has yet to be decided. Naturally, all 32 teams have varying goals the rest of the way. Some are battling for division titles and home-field advantage in the playoffs, while others are fighting for their postseason lives. And some teams have already been eliminated and are trying to build momentum for next season. With this in mind, I figured it would be prudent to dig into my NFL database and look back at the last 10 seasons in the NFL, focusing specifically on the final few weeks of the regular season. I looked for systematic betting edges we can use starting this week, taking into account all of these different agendas.

In my opinion, this may be a different season, but the motivating factors that affect teams in 2022 aren’t much different than they were in the last 10 years. As such, we are bound to find some quality info by looking at a data sample of 480 NFL games for the final three weeks of the season over the past decade. As you’ll see, I’ve found some fundamentally sound betting systems that VSiN readers can put to use over the next three weeks.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #1

  • NFL home teams favored by double-digits in divisional games have gone 38-3 SU and 26-14-1 ATS (65%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since 2012.

Steve’s thoughts: In most cases, these double-digit home favorites are playing for playoff positioning against lower-level teams. Add the motivating factors of playing at home and against a division rival, and the result is success. There are no games fitting this system this week, but in Week 17, the Chiefs host the Broncos.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #2

  • NFL home divisional underdogs of 3-points or less are on a run of 10-6 SU and 13-3 (81%) in their last 16 tries in the final three weeks of the regular season.

Steve’s thoughts: I suspect that a lot of these games feature home underdogs that may still be in the playoff hunt but need big performances to keep those hopes alive. Either that or they are in a position to spoil things for their biggest rivals. Whatever the case, these small home dogs have been great wagers lately. Again, there aren’t any plays fitting the criteria for this weekend, but I could foresee a handful of them in the final two weeks.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #3

  • NFL teams coming off upset wins when they were 4-point underdogs or bigger have gone 26-54 SU and 28-49-3 ATS (36.4%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: One would think that big upset wins would generate late-season momentum for teams. That has not been the case, as these surprise wins turn out to be more flukes than anything. In the follow-up games, these teams have struggled, proving they were good-sized underdogs for a reason. The Giants qualify for this angle in Week 16, traveling to Minnesota on Saturday.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #4

  • NFL home teams that have lost at least their last three games outright have gone 37-43 SU but 50-29-1 ATS (63.3%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12, including 34-16 ATS (68%) versus divisional foes.

Steve’s thoughts: This system generates a few trains of thought for me. First, with most of these final three weeks’ games being divisional contests, there is typically no shortage of motivation to end a losing skid. Second, teams on losing streaks typically get sided by oddsmakers, and we all know anything can and does happen on any given NFL week. There are currently eight different teams on losing streaks of at least three games straight. Of those teams, Miami, the Jets, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Arizona all play at home this weekend. The Titans are the only of the teams hosting a divisional foe.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #5

  • NFL home teams that have lost their last five or more games outright and are playing as favorites or dogs of 6-points or fewer have gone 12-12 SU and 16-7-1 ATS (69.6%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: This system is interesting in that although the host team is on a rather lengthy losing streak, they still have the respect of oddsmakers enough to the point where they are expected to be at least competitive. As it turns out, they end these skids half the time and cover the Vegas number at a very high rate. Chicago is the only host team this weekend on a losing skid of 5+ games but is listed as a 9-point dog to Buffalo.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #6

  • NFL road teams that have lost their last five games or more outright and are playing as dogs of 6-points or bigger have gone just 3-15 SU and 6-12 ATS (33.3%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: Things are going badly for a team, and to make matters worse, they have to go on the road against a far superior foe. Typically, it doesn’t turn out well. This system will be in play this weekend for the Houston game at Kansas City.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #7

  • NFL home teams riding winning streaks of five games or more outright have thrived as late-season favorites of more than 10 points, going 33-3 SU and 25-10-1 ATS (71.4%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: Red-hot teams that are expected to win at home have been nearly automatic, continuing their rolls in most cases. At this point in the 2022 season, there are four teams on winning streaks of at least five games. San Francisco is at home this week, but they’re only favored by 7.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #8

  • Monday night football games in the final three weeks of the regular season have gone UNDER the total at a 12-2 (85.7%) rate since ‘15.

Steve’s thoughts: Changing routines late in the season can impact rhythm. On top of that, many of these Monday night late-season games are impacted by cold temperatures, snow, or other weather factors. Higher stakes in these games also lead to conservative coaching. The first MNF game to test the system will be the Chargers-Colts tilt scheduled for the 26th, with a lofty total of 47.5.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #9

  • Late-season Saturday games have been rough for NFL hosts, as they are just 6-12 SU and 3-14-1 ATS (17.6%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’17, including 0-10 ATS as favorites.

Steve’s thoughts: Saturday NFL games are a surefire sign that it’s getting late in the season. Although these teams are at home, the change in routine has messed with the usual success level. This angle will get a serious test in 2022, with 11 games slated for Saturday, Christmas Eve.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #10

  • NFL home teams that are favored but own a lesser record than their opponent have gone 27-19 SU but just 16-29-1 ATS (35.6%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’13.

Steve’s thoughts: It’s clear that these hosts are not good enough to be trusted to be laying points. In fact, by won-lost records alone, they may be fortunate to be favored. Expect tight games. For Week 16, we have one qualifying game, Philadelphia at Dallas.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #11

  • NFL road underdogs scoring 26 PPG or more have gone 12-17 SU but 18-11 ATS (62.1%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: It’s one of my favorite recipes for betting the NFL, backing teams capable of scoring points as underdogs on the road. In the late season, it performs fairly well, it seems. The Eagles will qualify for this system on Saturday but might be without their starting quarterback Jalen Hurts for their game at Dallas.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #12

  • NFL road teams scoring less than 17 PPG have gone 4-33 SU and 11-24 ATS (31.4%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12, producing just 13.8 PPG on average.

Steve’s thoughts: This is quite literally the exact opposite system as #11 above. It’s taboo to bet the NFL’s worst offenses in late-season road games. This system proves that. Don’t expect that to change for teams like Houston, Denver, and the Rams the rest of the way. For Week 16, Houston and Denver are on the road.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #13

  • NFL home teams allowing 18.5 PPG or less have gone 39-18 SU but just 20-35-2 ATS (36.4%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: These are the league’s best teams in action on their home fields. However, it is typically elite offenses that are better and winning in the chalk role. These good defenses win games but covering big numbers is a different story. For 2022, four teams are meeting the points allowed criteria, Buffalo, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Only the 49ers are home this week, hosting Washington as 7.5-point favorites.

Last 3 NFL Regular Season Weeks System #14

  • NFL home teams allowing 29 PPG or more have gone 15-12 SU and 21-6 ATS (77.8%) in the final three weeks of the regular season since ’12.

Steve’s thoughts: There aren’t any teams allowing this many points per game in 2022, and there doesn’t figure to be any by season’s end either, but I share the system only because it stoked my curiosity. It seems porous defensive hosts are far better than stout defenses at covering point spreads late in the season.

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