Trending up and trending down NFL teams
December 19, 2017 3:07 AM
by Ian Cameron
It was more chalk rocking the books in Las Vegas and offshore in Week 15 NFL action as favorites tallied up a monster 13-0 SU, 9-3-1 ATS record this week.
In terms of the playoff race in each respective conference, every AFC team except Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Cleveland and the NY Jets still have meaningful football games to play while in the NFC, every team except the NY Giants, Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Washington fall into that same category. That means handicapping motivation and focus becomes a moot point when dealing with any of the teams not listed above going into Week 16 of the season.
The main handicap for games involving the teams like the LA Rams that are in the playoffs and battling for positioning is simply look at the spot, the schedule, past results this season and the on field matchups. Motivation or lack thereof should not be an issue with any of those teams. However, it does become a massive issue though when it comes to investigating teams that are out of the playoff race this late in the season with only two more weeks left of regular season football.
If you decide to walk up to the window in town with a ticket on the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins or Houston Texans among others you want to make sure you have a team that is still practicing hard down the stretch and giving a good honest effort.
Finding which teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention are still trying hard and giving it their absolute best at this stage of the campaign isn’t the easiest thing to forecast but my best advice when attempting to take this weekly step in the late season NFL handicapping process is to look for good and meaningful quotes from coaches and players specifically about the team’s execution level and attention to detail in practices during the week prior to the next game.
Often times, reports of bad and sloppy practices for these down trodden NFL teams during the week results in poor play on the field during the game on Sunday. There is an old saying that “proper preparation prevents poor performance” and it’s true.
If you happen to come across info from an NFL team beat writer or columnist that indicates a losing team out of the playoffs was very sloppy during practice and not very focused, it could lead to a bad showing on the field during game action. That is just one example of some of the little things that can become big things in your late season pursuit for NFL pointspread success involving teams that have already been knocked out of the playoff mix.
We saw the bowl season kickoff on Saturday with five games taking place to get the annual campaign started. Handicapping bowl games especially the earlier and minor bowls is a unique challenge and one that involves a variety of different factors that must be considered with intangible elements being every bit as important in these bowl games as breaking down matchups, strength of schedule and stats.
Motivation is of critical importance. Some teams are thrilled to be playing in a bowl game and being in a particular location for that game while other teams are disappointed and that emotion shows up in terms of lackluster effort and poor performance in the game. Oregon is a clear example of that in the Las Vegas Bowl this past Saturday as the Ducks seemed to be mentally worn out and uninspired to show up and give their best effort for that game against Boise State given all the coaching drama that had surrounded the program over the last few weeks in wake of the departure of former head coach Willie Taggart for Florida State.
That leads right into the next important factor to consider for early bowl games and that is coaching track records. It is natural that some coaches are known to do very well in bowl games thanks to having that ability to properly prepare and motivate their football teams for what is ahead while other coaches simply do not have those same characteristics and as a result may struggle more in these type of games. There are some coaches with tremendous win/loss records in bowl games and some that have awful ones.
On the positive side, Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham is 10-1 SU, 8-3 ATS in bowl games throughout his career. On the negative side, Mike Bobo of Colorado State lost yet another bowl game as a favorite making him 0-3 SU and ATS in bowl games all as favorites since becoming head coach at CSU and even the legendary Bill Snyder of Kansas State has had a rough time in bowl games notching a 5-8 SU, 3-10 ATS record in his last 13 bowl games as head coach of the Wildcats.
Coaching and coordinator changes during bowl season tend to happen as well and bettors need to be mindful of those and what type of positive or negative impact those could make within certain teams. Another under the radar factor worth looking at for bowl games is the venue/location of each game which can often enhance or decrease the amount of fan support for certain teams in several of these bowl game settings.