Our analysis of several historical football angles in the 1996-1997 Sports Betting Guide resulted in some success last season as our three systems finished a combined 7-5 (58%). The wild card playoff system split two games, winning with the Steelers but losing on Philadelphia in the "Mud Bowl". The college pointspread shift angle went 5-4, although shifts of 21 points (instead of the 17 points indicated in the article) were 4-1.
The NFL scheduling angle is now a perfect 12-0 since 1988 with one winner last year -- Detroit +12 at Green Bay on November 3. Watch out for regular season home favorites of 7 or more points coming off consecutive victories at home -- all twelve have failed to cover during the past 9 years!
This year let's look at the other side of this situation -- teams making long road trips. Quite a few bettors automatically go against the road team in this role. As the theory goes, the visitor gets fatigued or loses concentration due to the extended travel schedule. And there are some results that support this way of thinking.
Over the past five years (1992-1996), teams traveling for the third consecutive game have been very weak as small to moderate favorites (up to 6½ points). Overall, they are 2-8 ATS with both occurrences last season going against the visitor, each on the weekend of Sunday, December 15:
However, do not blindly bet against traveling teams, even all traveling favorites. Superior teams can overcome many obstacles; favorites of a touchdown or more are 3-0 in this same role.
More intriguing is the surprising success of visiting underdogs in their third road venture in a row. They were 11-5 (69%) ATS during the 1992-1996 period when receiving at least 3 points, with no season below the .500 mark. Large underdogs, those getting 7 or more points, covered 5 out of 6 (83%).
Adding additional pieces to the puzzle, the past five moderate to large underdogs that lost the first two games of the extended road trip bounced back strongly in game number 3 -- four actually pulled the outright upset. Only the Buccaneers failed to win, but they covered 6 points in their 13-10 loss at Chicago last November 3.
There are 11 matchups on the 1997 NFL schedule in which the visitor is playing its third straight away game. Oddly, the Ravens are involved four times, hosting twice and traveling twice. And there are three cases on December 14 alone.
So, as you look for potential soft spots on a team's schedule, don't equate a long road trip with automatic failure. Do your homework. Nothing is ever as easy as it first appears!