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Teams Coming Off Lopsided Wins and Losses

NFL Betting: Teams Coming Off Lopsided Wins and Losses

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

When a team comes off a big win or loss, there are some mixed messages for us to negotiate. For a team coming off a bad loss, it might suggest that team is in the dumps. Naturally, a team coming off a big win is perceived as being hot and at their best. But when we look at what has happened in the past couple seasons, the picture is not as rosy as it might seem when relying on previous performances.

We did a study of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, looking for how teams performed following their biggest wins and losses of the season. In 2011 and 2012, teams coming off their worst loss of the season were 32-34-1 in the following game. Meanwhile, teams coming off their biggest wins of the season were 24-35-5 in their next game.

There are a few different schools of thought. One is that teams that are hot or cold are likely to be that way in the following game. Another school of thought is that a team coming off an out-of-whack win or loss will either be overrated (following a big win) or underrated (following a bad loss).

When a team loses lopsidedly, there are a few different ways to play it. The loss is a bad sign, showing the team is not playing well. Then again, when everyone is down on a team, we are likely to find some pretty good value betting on it in the following game. The numbers over the last few years offer little in the way of validating either perception. NFL teams coming off their worst loss were 32-34-1 the past two seasons. Betting on them wasn’t profitable, but then again, neither was betting against them.

That’s not the case with teams coming off their best win of the season. Again, there are two ways to look at it. One might be inclined to pick a hot team that just torched their opponent. It shows they are in good form. But in the past few seasons, the other school of thought appears to hold more water. A team coming off a big win is likely to be overrated in their next game or they left all their good fortune on the field. Hot today/cold tomorrow.


With all NFL teams being 24-35-5 in the past two years coming off their biggest win of the season, betting against them in the following game has been a profitable maneuver. A big blowout win is fresh in the minds of the general betting public and really stands out brightly. The combination of a team getting too much credit with the betting odds and an overall tendency to not perform as well following a huge game makes betting against teams coming off a lopsided win an interesting option.

Now let’s be honest. Like all patterns, there are numerous drawbacks to this study. How do you know in the middle of a season what a team’s worst win or loss is going to end up being? Then you have teams that either win or lose very few games. If a team loses by 30 or more several times in a season, picking the loss that happened to be the worst is sort of an arbitrary selection. Or if a team wins 2 games all season, there might not even be a lopsided win in their schedule. Then you have teams whose worst loss or best win came into the last game, so the next most emphatic win or loss is counted.

In other words, there are a lot of drawbacks to any pattern. The span of time might go back so far that it doesn’t even matter, with teams able to change their whole complexion in the course of a single seasons nowadays. Needless to say, there are numerous limitations to any patterns you may have noticed.

In this case, betting on teams coming off big losses doesn’t seem to have much upside, though that could easily change from season to season. One thing that always seems to have a little potential, however, is betting against teams coming off huge wins. It’s understandable. When everything is clicking perfectly, it often doesn’t carry over to the next week. In addition, public confidence is a little over-inflated with teams who were all over Sportscenter lighting up their opponent. In the right spot, we can find nice value and a good situational spot to take the other side.

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