The NFL schedule has reached double-digits in terms of weeks, which means winter is upon us. As football bettors prepare for the Week 11 slate, there are new factors playing into the handicapping process that weren’t there just a few weeks ago.
We highlight some major changes to how you prep your NFL sports picks as the season rolls into the final six weeks of the year.
This one seems pretty obvious, especially if you live in the northern part of the country. You don’t need the NFL schedule to tell you winter is here. November and December can throw some tough conditions are pro football teams, however, weather isn’t as big an issue as you’d think.
Fields are tarped, heated and plowed, so snow and ice don’t stick around too long, but you can find games in which winter is a factor. Heavy snow fall during games can make the field and ball slick. You’ll often see some bobbled handoffs or dropped passes due to a slick pigskin, so those deep passing teams may have to shorten their playbooks to adjust to the conditions.
Because of those mistakes, there’s a knee-jerk reaction to bet the Under when snow shows up. However, when field conditions get slippery, the advantage goes to the ball carrier. They know which way they’re cutting, but the defenders do not. We’ve seen big scores on big runs in snowy games before, so don’t automatically think low scores when you see the white stuff.
Perhaps the biggest impact cold weather has is when you have a team from a warmer climate or one that plays in a domed stadium playing in winter weather on the road. Spots like Chicago and Green Bay often have sub-freezing temperatures, which gives the home side an edge against opponents who may not be used to that chilly situation.
At this point in the season, teams know whether they have a shot of making the playoffs or not. And that motivation is very important to consider as the schedule slims down in the next month and a half. Bettors can feel confident in backing a team still pushing for a postseason spot, but should really take caution when looking at the other side of this coin.
Teams with little to play for, especially those with coaches on the hot seat, are very difficult to handicap in the closing weeks of the season. Bettors will want to get inside the locker room as much as they can, to figure out how the veterans are feeling, how the coaching staff is reacting, and what the team in planning in the home stretch of the season.
Often times, losing teams will quit on their head coach – something we’re seeing with the New York Giants right now. And if the front office isn’t making any in-season stand against that revolt, these teams are almost automatic fade material each remaining Sunday.
Losing teams can often start to tinker with the lineups as well, working younger players and second-stringers into more action in order to get a better look at that talent and build experience for next season. That can lead to worse results, with starters and star players seeing less playing time.
The NFL season is a grind, which means most teams have significant injuries to at least a few key players at this point in the schedule. Football bettors will want to spot those impact injuries, especially if there are cluster injuries at certain positions, such as in the secondary or offensive line. That can have teams leaning on third-string talent in big-game situations.
Handicapping injuries at this point in the season, however, is not all about who’s out. Teams that were bitten by the injury bug early in the year could be starting to get back key players and starters in time for a postseason push. They’ve managed to survive without those top talents for two months and now get a boost in depth because those bodies are back from the injured reserve.