There are those times where one can easily see what was a good situation before something positive happened, or a bad situation when a disaster was in the offing. Now, as a handicapper, my job is to see when teams are headed into a positive intersection on their season schedule and when a squad is likely to experience doom.
Sometimes, we don’t see the bright or dark spots before they happen, but we can certainly identify them after the results are in.
Does that sound useless?
Even after a game starts, or certainly after it is complete, the facts of a squad headed into a triumph or buzzsaw become very clear. While handicapping is tied to being able to identify those eventualities before the game starts and in time to get that information to trusting clients, that information can still be utilized to generate future positive results.
Here is how.
I have the 32 National Football League teams broken into three categories on the Good/Bad chart. First, those exceptional teams that can win even when motivational aspects and point spread value in a contest are against them. Second, teams that are good enough to win when factors favor their prospects but not good enough to overcome elements that are against them. And finally, the third category, squads that are not good enough to beat a point spread even with an advantageous line and positive motivational factors.
Let me show you how this works in real time. It may surprise you to learn that the Kansas City Chiefs have not yet proven they can win in a bad situation. In their three games this season, they won in a good situation at home to open the season in defense of their Super Bowl title. Only two teams have lost in that spot since the NFL introduced in 2004 the Super Bowl Champion opening the season at home in a primetime Thursday contest.
Twice the league departed from this scheduling norm, that was last year when for the 100th anniversary of the league they featured the league’s oldest rivalry with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers, and in 2013, when the Baltimore Ravens home stadium was not available to them due to a scheduling conflict. The two defending champs that lost were the 2012 New York Giants, downed by the Dallas Cowboys 24-17, and the 2017 New England Patriots, who were clipped by the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-27.
Now, this is not to say the Chiefs might not be able to win in a bad situation this year, but so far they are oh for one. Last Monday, we missed on them in their meeting against the Baltimore Ravens when they won as an underdog. The week before, in a horrible motivational spot, they were behind the Chargers in Los Angeles for nearly the entire game before catching them to force overtime and eeking out a three point win. The straight-up triumph was not enough to cover the eight point spread.
Another team, like the Chiefs, with a perfect 3-0 mark this season is facing their first tough motivational spot this Sunday when they meet the Las Vegas Raiders on the road. That would be the Buffalo Bills, who have downed the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams in their first three games.
Now, Buffalo finds themselves in their first tough spot as a road favorite on the west coast against a Raiders team coming off their first loss of the season. We know this about the Raiders, they can win in a bad spot, like they did on opening day when as a bet-on road favorites they downed the Carolina Panthers 34-30, covering the three point spread. We also know that the Raiders can win in a good spot, as they did when they beat the New Orleans Saints by double-digits as a home underdog two weeks ago.
This Sunday, we have a team in a good situation that can win even in a bad one, facing an undefeated Bills team that has not yet been tested in a bad situation.
We will know after this game whether the Bills are one of those few squads that can win in a bad spot, but before that is confirmed, we know this, the Raiders can win in a both a good one and bad one and this week they are in a good one.
Qoxhi Picks: Oakland Raiders (+3½) over Buffalo Bills