The National Football League completes their three game preseason today with five contests on the schedule. While none of today’s games offer a wagering edge for us, the shortened preseason (3 games) and elongated regular season (17 games), will generate very unique advantages for some teams.
If you are one that thinks home field advantage makes a difference, and noting that the first ever season where visitors won more than home teams was last season, I agree that in normal times playing at home is an asset. With a 17 week regular season some teams are going to be playing more home games than road meetings.
Do they get an edge?
How the NFL has served two purposes is that this year the teams with extra home games are from the American Football Conference, and to make sure season ticket packages had the same number of games for all teams they had each National Football Conference team play two of their three preseason games at home. In other words, season tickets are for ten games and half those offers include eight regular season and two preseason while the others have one preseason and nine home regular season contests.
But, given the NFL is also returning to their International Games this year, a pair in London, we also have four teams that play one of their games at a neutral site. The schedule makers didn’t settle on one conference over the other for these out of the country games, three AFC teams are playing in London and one NFC squad.
What does this do to the natural balance of things? The four teams involved are the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. The advantage swings to a pair of AFC East teams, the Jets and Dolphins, who have what otherwise would have been a road game played at the neutral site.
The losers in this setup are the Jaguars and Falcons. They both had a home game taken from their schedules which means in the Falcons case they will play only seven games in their home stadium, nine on the road and the one in London. The Jaguars also had a home game taken off their schedule, which means in a year they would have had an extra home game, they instead play eight in Jacksonville, eight on the road and one in London.
As for the Jets and Dolphins, they play nine games in their home stadium, seven at an opponent's facility and their contests across the pond.
Why does this matter to us?
Because next week, heading into the Thursday night opener on September 9th between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys, we will be publishing our season propositions including our best choices for win totals and ultimate Super Bowl winner. The Jets and Dolphins get a slight advantage in scheduling to go “over” their season win totals while the Jaguars and Falcons get a nudge to the “under” side based on schedule alone.
Last season, we were 4-1-1 on our selected season win totals, and in the twelve years we have released this information to clients we have enjoyed 11 winning seasons.
The NFL will complete their preseason today and before they kick-off the regular campaign in less than two weeks. Before that opener, we’ll be delivering season long props that we expect will pay off when the season concludes next February.