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Myth-busting? Early-season NFL trends.

Photographer: Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire

Myth-busting? Early-season NFL trends.

As avid listeners to several NFL podcasts, inevitably we hear various trends being tossed about early season football. A typical example is that Denver outperforms the spread at home in early season games.

To that end, we thought we’d dive into a few of the trends discussed, as well as some others that may also be contemplated, to see if there is any value to them.

Note that we’re looking at games from the 2007 season onwards for weeks one to three. We are using the starting lines also for ATS analysis.

As always, be mindful that we are working with tiny samples of data, hence it is of questionable value.

Here goes:

  • Early season performance of Denver at home

Rationale: Teams are yet to reach peak fitness and have trouble dealing with the 5,280 feet altitude of Mile High Stadium.

Straight Up: 18 wins, 4 losses. They were favorite in 18 of 22 games.

ATS: 8 wins, 3 pushes, 11 losses. (last season they pushed against the Seahawks, winning 27-24 at a 3 point favorite. They also beat the Raiders 20-19, but lost ATS as they were a 5.5 point favorite)

Myth busted? We think so.

  • The Patriots are vulnerable early in the season

Rationale: Bill Belichick teams tend to build into the season and are not necessarily at their peak early on.

Straight Up – Away: 9 wins, 7 losses. They were favorite in 13 of 16 games. (last season they lost to the Jaguars 31-20 and the Lions 26-10).  

ATS – Away: 9 wins, 0 pushes, 7 losses. (last season they lost both of the games above ATS)

Straight Up – Home: 17 wins, 3 losses. They were favorite in 19 of 20 games, with the other game pickem. (last season they defeated the Texans 27-20).  

ATS – Home: 10 wins, 1 push, 9 losses. (last season they defeated the Texans ATS at a 6.5 point favorite)

Myth busted? We think so, although they may be a little bit vulnerable as an early season road favorite.

  • Underdogs are a better play earlier in the season

Rationale: The books are yet to work out the pretenders from the contenders. Note that we are looking at 1 point dogs or bigger here.

Straight Up – Away: 128 wins, 256 losses.  

ATS – Away: 194 wins, 17 pushes, 173 losses. (assuming -110 that equates to a 1% POT)

Straight Up – Home: 84 wins, 2 ties, 102 losses.  

ATS – Home: 106 wins, 5 pushes, 77 losses. (assuming -110 that equates to a 10.6% POT)

Myth busted? No. Notwithstanding the sample size, early-season home teams at +1 or bigger might be worth contemplating. At the moment the Dolphins, Jaguars, Panthers and Cardinals fit the criteria.

  • Teams from colder places struggle in the heat (>800 miles south as the crow flies)

Rationale: They’ll struggle with the heat later in games as they are yet to reach peak fitness or are unable to acclimatize properly.

Straight Up – Away: 18 wins, 15 losses.  (The away team is favorite in 15 games)

ATS – Away: 16 wins, 2 pushes, 15 losses

Myth busted? We think so.

These are not necessarily trends we’ve heard, but let’s have a look at a few anyway.

  • Long travel and favorites (>1500 miles – as the crow flies)

Rationale: It takes a little while for teams to adjust to the rigors of travel.

Away favorites of 1 or bigger

Straight Up: 10 wins, 16 losses

ATS: 8 wins, 18 losses

Obviously a tiny sample, hence not really of any value, but maybe something to briefly ponder if you are contemplating backing a team like the Lions or Rams in week one.

  • Unders are a better bet than Overs for game totals

Rationale: It takes longer for the offense to hit their peak.

Unders: 276

Pushes: 7

Overs: 291

Clearly no trend evident here.

  • Teams from warmer places struggle in the cold (>800 miles north as the crow flies)

Rationale: Teams are unable to acclimatize properly early in the season.

Straight Up – Away: 11 wins, 28 losses.  (The away team is favorite in 12 games and there are two pickems)

ATS – Away: 15 wins, 2 pushes, 22 losses

Notwithstanding the small sample size again, it seems that times going from the warm climates to the cooler climates tend to struggle more early in the season.

If you know of another trend you would like us to look at, leave us a message or DM us on twitter @savvyplays.

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