NFL playoffs is an interesting yet challenging time of season for everyone invested. The sports bettors, investor, sharps, online sportsbooks and expert NFL handicappers. It’s among the most challenging time the football season to predict games with the most confidence, and right so for a few reasons.
One obvious reason that I’ll get out of the way for the novice football bettor is that the poit spreads can be quite sharp. The online sportsbooks and oddsmakers have a select few games to analyze, and with the increased volume in action with more time to analyze and adjust lines, it makes it more of a challenge for the bettor.
In this post on NFL playoff betting strategies investors and expert bettors apply to making playoffs predictions. I’ll also cover why the playoffs differ than regular season, and why football handicappers and investors betting strategy approach to the NFL playoffs is quite different, as regular season betting strategies have shown to under-perform.
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Sports bettors can do well in the regular season. There is much more consistency and predicability among the weekly match ups. Statistics and data will even support this as the pre-season and first few weeks of games play out, and the sports prediction modelling adjust the data-sets to find the short term patters, and long term trends from season to season.
The NFL playoffs can be quite the opposite, albeit the 9 out of 10 NFL bettors make these betting mistakes still do apply. Where playing underdogs in regular season by applying a contrarian betting strategy (see 2 tips NFL betting strategies Sharps don’t want you to know) can work well in some betting systems, expert handicappers and sports bettors tend to spread the variance around during the playoffs. Unlike betting against the squares during regular season, playoffs can be a good opportunity to take the favorites.
You’ll find in many successful betting systems that win, taking the underdogs or betting against the public on key games, where the data-aligns of course, can be quite profitable. But come playoffs it doesn’t work. Why?
There is no silver bullet answer to this, but data patterns and analysis of public behavioural data sheds light on a few reasons. And awareness of these reasons help mold handicappers and sports betting strategies, and approach to their NFL picks and NFL playoff predictions.
1. Essential Usage of Statistical Analysis & Behaviorial Economics
You’ve heard it before, but either never find the time to run crunch the numbers or subscribe to a statistical analysis betting tool to develop your own decisions. Instead you take a few KPI’s (key performance indicators) and select your NFL picks. Whether you win or lose, can only be determined by the quality and accuracy of your betting system and inputs from your statistical analysis. If you’re not a numbers guy and unconvinced, see this short video by Daniel Kahneman, always trust your numbers, never trust your gut.
There are plenty of validated examples of how analysis of the data and stats, including the inputs of public and their behavioural actions have proved-out to be profitable. But when football’s post-seasons comes, there is far greater importance of handicapping the NFL playoffs and making your playoff picks using statistical handicapping.
You’ll find around end of December to January, certain football teams will elevate their game, along with less situational surprises. And the teams with the advantage in the statical KPI’s tend to win and cover.
The key factor in this however is knowing which statistics to give weight in your betting system, and validating ones that worked, or didn’t work during regular seasons. Trends have shown that making the NFL playoff picks that weigh to the stronger key stats tend to win and cover during the playoffs.
Easier said than done right? Yes and no, but like anything of quality it takes time to find your key stats to model and test. Do this and you’ll likely find the better team during the playoffs, as those hidden gems are often not found during the regular season.
2. Signs of Running Up The Score
In regular season can you remember the last time you saw the underdog upset the favorite? Now ask why?
The favorite may have been selected to crown the game, but in most of these situations the favorites let down their guard in the offence or defence or both. Coaching strategy during those games likely did not put as much importance on winning the game as it would in the playoffs. There are a number of reasons for this, such as perhaps the coaching strategy wants the star QB to rest an injury, or a particulate match up for placement or testing new plays, etc. Whatever the reason you’ll find it to be of no surprise to see the underdogs upset the favorites during the regular season.
Now comes the NFL playoffs and obviously there is no room to chance it. You win you continue, you lose you call it a season. Both coaches and players get this, and you’ll find everyone steps up to play to top performance, while mitigating risk.
My point is even if the team is winning by one or two touchdowns during a playoff game, its rare to see them give up the momentum to leave anything chance.
Canadian football is actually a great example. Watch the CFL playoffs and the underdog team will pull out all the stops to Hail Mary the ball to the end zone….and the number of times you see that miracle play pull off…its exciting.
Thus for any investor or sports bettor formulating their playoff predictions and handicappers re-evaluating their betting systems and making NFL playoff picks, their statistical analysis (see #1 above) should include the input of teams and coaching strategies who rise to the top during these playoff situations, and understand that teams will rarely leave a playoff game to chance and will run up the score.
You won’t find this during regular seasons. Call it etiquette or an unwritten cardinal rule, but in regular season you don’t see teams running up the score. But come January, the rule doesn’t apply.
3. Remember BOB? The Best Of The Best Win
Historically…and run the numbers, the NFL playoffs showcase the best of the best teams, and they typically win. But uncovering those ‘best teams’ is not as simple as you might find.
In a contrarian betting strategy you take the opposite position (underdog) of the media and public hype on the favorite in key situations. This rule is much more difficult to execute as a betting strategy in the NFL playoffs favor the favorite…and so does the public and media.
Most NFL handicappers will dive through a plethora of data to find the KPI that will help identify the best team during playoffs, because if they can, then you’ll likely make consistent wins throughout the playoffs.
Handicappers and sports bettors who use statistical tools to crunch various data sets and find the betting system to provide the highest confidence on a game, or overall, tend to look at key stats as head-to-head records, points, passing, rushing, sacks, yardage, etc.
Tip: One tip professional bettors and handicappers will watch for to help identify this is that the ‘better team’ tends to ‘earn’ home field advantage (see #4 below). And how else do you earn home field advantage other than playing a solid season of football.
Some handicappers we’re familiar with like to use a betting system that analyzes yards per play, yards per point, and key player match ups during situational games.
4. Hometown Victory
It’s no surprise that home field has it advantages, especially in the NFL. And during NFL playoffs, this advantage should not be overlooked.
The same reasons and rules apply why home field advantage is desired. Between the home turf energy, less travel time and frequent long haul trips, weather, field conditions, etc. Just think alone what weather can do for teams travelling from North to South or East Coast to West Coast.
And while the online sportsbooks odds makers have a difficult enough time to account for this, they tend to give a range of 2.5 to 3.5 in favor of the home team. If you run the stats over the last half dozen seasons, you’ll find home teams have covered ~64% of the time.
Feel free to share you NFL playoff betting tips, statistics and key insights you’ve uncovered over the seasons by commenting below. And if found this valuable or helpful, I only ask to pay back karma 😉 by using the buttons above to share to Twitter, Facebook and Google+.