After studying and cataloging hundreds of different NFL betting systems over the past decade or-so, I have learned that there are really only 3 distinct types of systems that effectively beat the spread. They each have the ability to expose opportunities for profit versus the linethey just do so in very different ways.
The first and most common category (which accounts for the majority of systems that I employ), covers situations that are based on mathematical measurements of specific areas of team play, which work towards revealing instances where one side may have an advantage over another after the point spread is factored in. Examples of this would include systems based primarily on Rush Offense Ratings, Team Efficiency Ratings, or any other statistical measurement of team skill.
The 2nd group involves systems that isolate situations where the betting public is way off with their assessment of team strength and an opportunity for profit based on the resulting ‘skewed’ line may be present. Many of these systems work their magic in the early part of the season, when bettors are still placing wagers based on what teams did last season, as opposed to what they are exhibiting in the first few weeks of the current season.
The 3rd and final category of systems that I employ can be classed as ‘let-down’ or ‘momentum’ situations and this is where my degree in ‘Armchair Psychology’, as I like to call it, comes in handy.
‘Momentum’ is both a catch-all phrase and sports cliche that has been so overused in the past few decades, it’s hard to give it much credence, especially considering that 99% of the time the term is trotted out (most commonly as part of the mindless on-air commentary of network NFL broadcasts), the team that has been pegged as having the ‘so-called’ edge in momentum, is in fact, no more likely to cover the spread than their opponent.
The overuse and ‘dumbing down’ of terms such as ‘momentum’ and it’s polar opposite: the ‘let-down’ situation, does obscure the fact that there are still many proven situations that exist in the NFL where teams may be in a position to build on a recent positive event, or, perhaps not give forth their best effort due to certain factors working against them.
This category of betting systems should come with a prominent warning label though–systems based on ‘Armchair Psychology’ are actually the hardest to prove through subjective analysis and bettors who handicap games purely on the basis of these types of situations can find themselves on a slippery slope indeed.
The important lesson here is that even the most logical-sounding situations that may have had success in the past (one that comes to mind concerns teams facing an inferior non-divisional opponent at home in a game that is sandwiched in between 2 divisional road meetings), may still simply be the product of chance alone, or a combination of luck and many other factors that have nothing to do with the logic of the specific system itself.
Despite the potential pitfalls involved with ‘Category 3’ systems, I do still utilize a wide assortment of them on a weekly basis. With this category, I always strive to use only 2-4 Primary conditions and not too many ‘tighteners’ (Secondary conditions). The KISS approach seems to provide the best chance of future success when working with these highly subjective situations.
It should come as no surprise then, that the particular system I would like to look at for this article is very simple in nature (this is a ‘Simple Systems’ article, after all). Its premise is built on how teams perform in an upcoming game, when they happen to be facing the defending Super-Bowl winner in the game immediately after.
It’s not uncommon for teams to look beyond their current opponent in certain circumstances, especially if they are a team with a winning record that may be looking to make a statement versus last years champion.
When we take the above Primary condition and add in the stipulation that the current opponent is coming off a Clutch Win (a Clutch win occurs when a team tallies the final score of the game, in either the 4th quarter or overtime, moving them from a tied or losing position, into a winning one), we are left with a system that has produced a record of 2-17 ATS for the team in question since 1994.
All the details for this system are listed below. You will notice that it does play on winning teams more often than not (57.1% of the time) and has involved 16 different teams since 1994–which is excellent when you consider that only just over 20 games have met its criteria since 1994 (this includes ‘pushes’ which are not shown in the overall record of 2-17 ATS).
System #49 Summary
Primary Conditions (Building Blocks)
1) Team is playing Last Seasons Super-Bowl winner in their Next Game.
2) Current Opponent is coming off a Clutch Win.
Secondary Conditions (Tighteners)
Top Teams: MIA(3); ATL(2); IND(2); NYG(2)
Overall (Since ’94): 2-17 ATS
2006 Season: 0-2 ATS
2005 Season: 0-1 ATS
2004 Season: 0-1 ATS
Last 3 Results (Pick in Brackets)
2006 WK12–DAL 38 TB 10 (TB +11) L
2006 WK4–BAL 16 SD 13 (SD -2.5) L
2005 WK9–CHI 20 NO 17 (NO +3) P