Sometimes it seems like there are some football teams in the NFL that have forgotten how to win. They fall into long losing streaks, and they look truly terrible doing it. When NFL teams lose several games in a row the public will assume that they will never win again, and their betting action reflects that most times. Smart sports bettors know, though, that anything can happen from week to week, and that you can’t assume anything. If a team is likely to keep losing then you don’t want to bet on them to win for obvious reasons, but if they could break through and end their streak then you can often find a very nice price if you are willing to bet on them.
The trick, of course, is figuring out when a long losing streak is likely to end, and when it could continue for a long time. That’s not always an easy thing to do with the NFL, but by asking these five questions you can give yourself a good chance of figuring it out:
Why have they been losing? – This is an obvious question (hopefully) but when you really start to look at it is also a very complicated question. As expert NFL handicappers know, there are all sorts of reasons why a team can keep losing. Some of them are a real cause for concern and are likely to be a lasting problem. The most obvious example here would be if the football team is losing because they are just totally lacking in talent, are poorly prepared, and aren’t a match for their opponents on either side of the ball. Occasionally that is the case – like when the Lions lost every game in a season – but it is rarely that straightforward. Most times you need to look at the real reasons why they are losing and whether that is likely to continue. Have they been losing because of a number of key injuries? Have their matchups been a problem in past games? Are the likely to continue to be that way. Have they been blown out consistently, or have they been losing close games by being unlucky? Has the schedule been working against them, or have they been losing at home to underwhelming teams? Has it been the result of an overall lack of talent, or do they have young players who are clearly improving with each game? Do they keep losing in the same way, or are they encountering different problems each week based on their opponent and their luck? The more you can understand about why the streak has happened the better able you are to determine whether it will continue. The betting public is very unlikely to look at the situation with any depth, so if you do so you can gain an easy edge.
Who do they play next? – It can be dangerous to attach to much significance to a losing streak. The fact that a football team has lost the last three games doesn’t make them any more or less likely to lose their next game. What matters is who they are playing and how they match up to that opponent. Is their offense going to be able to score against the opposing defense? Will they be able to stop the opposing offense? Is the defense going to have to spend a lot of time on the field and get worn down, or will the offense protect them and let them rest? Does one team have a special teams edge? How do the coaching staffs match up?
Are they healthy? – Injuries can obviously be a big factor for teams in any situation. When you are looking at injuries to NFL players in the context of a long losing streak what you are really most worried about is what has changed. If a team has the same injury issues as they did last week then you might reasonably expect approximately the same type of roster and performance. If the team is more or less healthy this week than they were last week, though, then you can expect some changes, and that could cause a different performance. Taking note of differences in injury status from game to game is a great way to gain an edge on the public if the injuries are significant but the players affected aren’t high profile, popular stars. The sports betting public may not pay attention to lesser players, so they could miss the significance of the change.
Where are they at mentally? – A whole lot of the cause of success in the NFL is mental. The teams that are more positive, more focused, and more prepared are usually the ones that win. The more insights you can get into how a team is feeling mentally, then, the more of a sense you can get of their chances of winning. Some football teams will be able to remain positive and upbeat despite the losses while others will just give up and things will get worse. You obviously can’t ask a team how they are feeling, so you have to look for other clues instead. What kind of attitude do they have in interviews? Are they talking a lot or are they hiding from the media? Are they making excuses for their problems, or are they owning up to the problems and providing solutions that could solve the problems? What are the players saying on social media?
What is the public thinking? – The difference between an attractive football bet and an unattractive one when considering betting on longshots on losing streaks often has a lot to do with how the public is reacting. If the wagering public is feeling very negative about a team then they are likely to bet against them heavily. The oddsmakers will know this and they will adjust the lines accordingly. In those cases there can be a whole lot of value for the insightful NFL bettor on the team on the losing streak. If the team that is losing is a team that the public generally likes, though, then they may not be willing to desert them in their tough times. That could mean that there isn’t nearly as much value in the underdog, and you have to work harder to decide if they are worth a bet.