It’s the final weeks of the regular season in the NFL. The lines are bloated with double-digit mismatches, the close point spreads find two possible playoff teams impossible to determine separation and you have two squads that have nothing to play for other than paychecks.
Not exactly what those of us looking to make NFL picks want to choose from right?
This comes up every year and it’s never fun after going through your normal routine of trying to make sound judgments all season and you end up staring at the screen thinking “now what?” because your options seem so few.
This can be particularly troubling if you have enjoyed a good season to date and had clarity in your decision making and now it seems like you’re flipping coins to make selections.
The simple fact is this happens in every major professional sport like the NBA, NHL and MLB and you have to determine workarounds and be satisfied with making fewer, but what should be quality plays. Let’s come up with some solutions.
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Start With Two Clubs Having a Reason to Play
This is the best-case scenario because the handicapping methods should be exactly the same as you used all year.
You are looking at what statistics you always do and trying to find an edge in rushing, passing or special teams on offense and defense. You will go through deciding who has the better quarterback and what kind of defensive pressure the opposing team could place on either signal-caller.
As is the case when both have reasons to play hard and be motivated, you would always look for reasons to back the underdog, especially if you are catching at least three points if not more.
Do your due diligence and don’t overthink. Instead, you have a simple mission – determine the right side to be on.
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Playoff Team vs. Non-Playoff Team, Where to Look?
One of the things to do is follow the news of the teams in this scenario. Maybe a team is in the playoffs but their chances of being the top seed are almost nil. Maybe, this team is not mentally ready and they are on the road as close to or a double-digit favorite. The opponent’s season ends the second their Week 18 is over, but to their credit, they have not thrown in the towel on the year.
The underdog’s coaching staff has convinced their team they will do whatever it takes and they decide to eschew field goals, have a half dozen trick plays ready because they have nothing to lose. This is a dangerous foe and though the betting odds don’t seem to be with the dog, they are playing free and loose and can make this a close encounter.
The other aspect of this is if you find out the playoff team had a good week of practice and they have a solid coach, they understand what is needed in this scenario. Their mission is to jump on the opposing team and take away any hope and they will roll over like a dog wanting its stomach rubbed.
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Two Clubs Playing Out the Season
This is a tricky matchup and all things equal; it is smarter to probably pass unless one can find an edge for NFL picks.
For example, two 5-10 teams are facing off. One of these lackluster squads has a coach that is facing a – Black Monday (being fired) – and this club is on a significant losing streak. The opponent after a terrible start to the year is .500 over their past six contests and has statistical edges, possibly running the ball or the stronger defense. Knowing this intel can be the ticket to a winning play between two doggy teams.
If all else fails and you still want to make one more play on your card, taking the points at +3 or higher is not a bad way to go. With clubs going nowhere, better to have the points for value as opposed to giving them.
Don’t Do This Late in the Year
If you are making six to 10 NFL picks weekly, the last two weeks of the season, cut your number in half. Playoffs clubs with a secure position might rest players or use them briefly and guess on how that squad is like betting red or black on roulette.
If you have enjoyed a strong season or not the one you had hoped for, why leave yourself vulnerable with more 50-50 chance wagers. A part of being a smarter football bettor is understanding risk and putting the odds in your favor by betting wisely.
And remember to check back for more betting strategy at the OddsTrader blog. Happy betting!