Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
06 Dec 2003
Guest Column by Anthony Brancato
One of the worst bets you can make in the NFL is to wager on a team that plays their home games either in a dome or in a warm climate when such a team has to play on the road at a northern, outdoor site from November 1st onward. These teams have had a consistently poor record, both against the spread and straight up, going back at least five years.
For the purposes of this study, the following 18 teams are considered to play their home games either in a warm or mild climate or indoors: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee. When any of these 18 teams must play on the road in November or later against one of the league's other 14 teams -- Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Green Bay, Kansas City, New England, the New York Giants and Jets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington -- the home-field advantage becomes far more critical than in other games.
Says who? Says the results of the games actually played since 1998. From November 1 of that year through the games of Week 13 of the 2003 season, the warm-weather and domed-stadium teams have played 203 games (playoff games included) at northern, outdoor sites after Halloween. Their cumulative record in those 203 games is 64-138-1 straight up (a .318 winning percentage) and 76-118-9 against the spread (for .397; in the above two calculations as well as in all those that follow, ties straight up and pushes against the spread are both figured as half a win and half a loss).
But wait, it only gets more interesting. When games of this nature have been played in the late-afternoon time slot or at night, the performance of the warm-weather and indoor teams has been even worse - of the 203 games referred to above, 25 have been played in the late-afternoon time slot, not counting such games played at Denver due to the earlier local starting time there (the point being that in all other cases a significant portion of the game would be played in darkness, making the temperature colder than if the game had started earlier), and the record of the warm-weather and indoor teams in those 25 games was 7-18 straight up (.280) and 7-17-1 against the spread (.300). Another 25 of the 203 games were night games (ESPN Sunday night or ABC Monday night games, and also three playoff games the last two years), and the results of those games are similar - the warm-weather and indoor teams were 8-17 straight up (.320) and 8-15-2 against the spread (.360).
Translating all this into dollars, a $100 bet placed against every warm-weather and domed-stadium team whenever they played a cold-weather game since 1998 would have yielded a net profit of $3,440 based on a 10 per cent "vig" on losing bets; and if such bets were placed only when the game was also in the late time slot (other than in Denver) or at night, the net profit would have been $1,550 from 50 $100 wagers.
Don't know about you, but I could certainly do a lot worse than that.
Anthony Brancato is a moderator of the NFL discussion boards at Sports-Central.org, where he hosts a weekly NFL pick 'em contest. Comments? Make them in our discussion thread, or contact Anthony at ajbrancato @ yahoo.com. If you are interested in writing a guest column, something that takes a new angle on the NFL, please email us your idea at info @ footballoutsiders.com
2 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2007, 2:43pm by osisbs