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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - JAN. 6

By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/06/2014 at 03:16 PM

The NFL Wild Card weekend featured great late drama with three of the four games decided by a combined total of six points. Turnovers are almost always the key to victory in the NFL with regular season NFL teams winning S/U over 79 percent of the time when they win the turnover margin battle since 1990. In the playoffs that percentage climbed to over 84 percent heading into last weekend but three of four teams that lost the turnover battle wound up winning last week. The 49ers lost the turnover battle 1-0, the Saints lost that battle 2-0 and the Colts incredibly overcame a 4-1 turnover margin to win in one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history. It was also a wild NFL weekend with some very close ATS results as various bettors had the opportunity to win, lose, or push while playing both the Chiefs/Colts game and the 49ers/Packers game depending on when and where the wager was made. After talks of a potential Ice Bowl II at Lambeau Field this week and big concerns over the weather in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, the conditions in all three venues were milder than anticipated as weather scares can often be overblown, though all three outdoor playoff games did play just ‘under’ in the wild card round. Weather could certainly be a factor in a few games this week as well.
 
It has been an unusual bowl season this year with five underdogs of seven points or more winning outright, with incredibly three underdogs of at least 16 points winning outright. Heading into this season only five underdogs of more than 14 points had won a bowl game outright since 1981, and most of those wins came in minor bowl games against a less interested favorite. This year two huge underdogs beat top 10 teams in BCS bowl games. While overall steep underdogs hold a strong ATS track record in bowl games, generally speaking underdogs tend to do well early in the bowl season while the top end favorites usually play well and produce strong spread results in the bigger more meaningful later bowl games. This season since New Year’s Day 9 out of 11 bowl underdogs have covered and five of the six New Year’s Day underdogs covered despite a 13-5 record for New Year’s Day favorites the last three years, and solid marks going further back with New Year’s Day favorites going 41-33 ATS the last 12 years (this is counting the traditional Jan. 1 games that occasionally get played Jan. 2 if New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday). Heading into the BCS Championship all four BCS bowl games have featured the underdog winning outright, something that is usually a pretty rare occurrence. The ‘under’ has also had great success this bowl season going 20-14 despite the ‘over’ going 11-4 in the 15 most recent bowl games, another result in the face of how things typically play out historically in the bowls as usually the minor bowl games lean to higher scoring games with the bigger New Year’s Day and BCS bowl games usually leading to lower scoring defensive battles with more success for the ’under’. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…

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