Trends can be a helpful starting point when handicapping NFL games. In fact, some trends should carry added weight this time of year because late-season matchups include significantly more regular-season data worth considering. Here’s a look at some trends worth looking at for NFL Week #16.

analyzing sports betting trends
All NFL games have innumerable trends. How do we decide which trends to consider and which trends to disregard? (Image: Pichi Chuang/Reuters)

Trends are very often the gobbledygook of sports handicapping. They are plentiful. They are easy to research. And most are meaningless and, therefore, worthless as betting tools.

However, that doesn’t mean we should disregard trends. Some trends must be taken into account when betting on a game. A few trends are so well known by the betting public, via online websites and even mainstream sports media, they can influence the line.

Let’s take a look at the most meaningful trends for NFL Regular Season Week #16, which includes games played on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday:

Saturday

Houston at Tampa Bay

No significant trends.

Buffalo at New England

The Bills are a perfect 6-0 against-the-spread this season, which is an NFL best. Translation: Buffalo travels well and should be primed for a big matchup against the rival Patriots.

The Patriots have gone 4-1 against-the-spread, and 5-0 straight-up versus the Bills since the start of 2017. Translation: New England has dominated this series recently.

Conflicting trends means it’s probably a good idea to pass on betting this game.

LA Rams at San Francisco

No significant trends.

Sunday

Jacksonville at Atlanta

The Falcons are 0-7 versus the spread when playing bottom-ranked teams (opponents that have won less than 40 percent of their games) over the past two seasons.

Translation: The Dan Quinn-coached Falcons have tended to play down to their level of competition.

Atlanta is also 0-7 against-the-spread in non-conference games, and a dreadful 10-19 versus-the-number against all opponents over the past two seasons. Translation: The Falcons have been a bad bet since the start of 2018, and they play especially poorly against unfamiliar opponents.

This week, Jacksonville qualifies both as a bottom-ranked team and an unfamiliar opponent for Atlanta. The Jaguars +7 may be worth a wager.

New Orleans at Tennesee

The Saints have gone 11-3 against-the-spread on the road the past two seasons. Translation: New Orleans may still be undervalued on the road my oddsmakers and the betting public.

This week, New Orleans -2.5 might be a good play.

NY Giants at Washington

The Giants are a perfect 7-0 versus-the-spread when playing against bad defenses (defined as allowing more than 5.65 yards-per-play) over the past two seasons. Translation: The NY Giants may be a losing team, but they somehow feast on opponents that can’t stop anybody.

The Redskins are 0-6 against-the-spread in home games when coming off a game versus a division rival over the past three seasons. Translation: Washington doesn’t prepare well for games after the intensity of facing its division rivals.

The NY Giants +1 might be a decent wager based on these two trends.

Pittsburgh at NY Jets

The Jets are a pathetic 10-19 against-the-spread in all games played over the past two seasons. Translation: The Jets continue to underperform according to the line.

The Jets are a disappointing 2-8 versus the number when playing AFC opponents this season. Translation: The NY Jets fare particularly poorly against better-known teams.

The Steelers -3 may be worth a serious look.

Cincinnati at Miami

No significant trends.

Carolina at Indianapolis

No significant trends.

Baltimore at Cleveland

The Ravens are 6-0 against-the-spread after rushing for 200 or more yards in the previous game over the last two seasons. Translation: When Baltimore’s running game is in sync, they tend to be a good bet in their next game, as well.

The Ravens are 15-5 versus-the-number on the road since the start of the 2017 season. Translation: Baltimore is one of the NFL’s best road teams.

The Ravens have won 10 straight games, and have gone 7-2-1 against-the-spread during that stretch. Translation: Baltimore is the NFL’s hottest team at the moment.

Baltimore -9.5 looks to be a strong play, based on trends and the way they are currently playing.

Dallas at Philadelphia

The Cowboys are 9-1 against-the-spread versus division opponents over the past two seasons. Translation: Dallas may struggle versus good teams, but in the weak to mediocre NFC East, the Cowboys dominate.

The Cowboys have gone 4-1 both straight up and against-the-spread versus the Eagles since the start of the 2017 season. Translation: Dallas has shown dominance in this rivalry recently.

Dallas -2 is favored for a reason in this game. They have played better recently, and have trends on their side.

Arizona at Seattle

The Seahawks are a perfect 9-0 versus-the-spread in games played the week after they failed to cover the point spread. Translation: Seattle is a solid rebound team off a sub-par performance.

Detroit at Denver

The Broncos are a woeful 29-47 against the spread in home games versus opponents with a losing record, dating all the way back to 1992. Translation: Even with many good Denver teams, the Broncos have been overvalued at home when facing sub-par opponents.

Oakland at LA Chargers

The Raiders are an awful 6-15 versus-the-spread in all road games over the past three seasons. Translation: Oakland is a bad road team, no matter what the circumstances.

The Chargers have gone 4-1 both against-the-spread and straight-up against the Raiders over the past three seasons. Translation: The LA Chargers have dominated this series recently.

The LA Chargers look to be worth serious consideration, based on these trends.

[SNF] Kansas City at Chicago

The Bears are just 1-7 against-the-spread when playing versus bad defenses (defined as opponents that allow more than 5.65 yards-per-play) this season. Translation: For whatever reason, including perhaps an inept offense of their own, Chicago is a bad bet when playing versus opponents expected to be vulnerable on defense.

The Chiefs are 26-14 against-the-number when playing on natural grass surfaces over the past three seasons. The Bears home field is a natural grass surface. Translation: Kansas City performs well on grass fields historically, and this game applies.

Kansas City appears to have two strong trends working in their favor.

Monday

[MNF] Green Bay at Minnesota

The Vikings are 18-8 against-the-spread in games played indoors since the start of the 2017 season. Minnesota plays at home in a dome. Translation: Minnesota performs much better indoors than outdoors.

Minnesota may be worth a wager based on their preference for indoor conditions.

Note: Obviously, many other factors should be considered when wagering on games. However, these trends do offer a helpful starting point.

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