Long road trips east for west coast NFL teams
bettingexpert blog editor. Always taking the alternative route to finding the value.
Email : andrew at bettingexpert.com
How does travel impact the performance of NFL teams? Do long road trips have a greater impact on how teams perform against the betting line? And how about teams travelling from West to East, having to deal with a 3 hour time shift? Andrew rips into the numbers and investigates.
Surfing the net with a few ideas in mind for an NFL blog post this week, I came across a site NFLfootballstadiums.com and in particular their road trip planner page.
The site provides visitors with a grid that displays the distances between NFL cities. Want to know the distance between New York and Dallas? It's 1,589 miles. Detroit and Chicago? 283 miles. How about Miami and Seattle? 3,370 miles.
With this data at my disposal, I decided to look into the impact that long road trips have on the performance of NFL road teams, and in particular, how they perform against the betting line.
I decided to look at how teams have performed when undertaking a road trip of at least 2,000 miles over the last 20 NFL seasons.
Further, how do teams perform when travelling from west to east, taking into consideration the impact of a change in timezones? Is it true that teams from the west struggle with the adjustment when kickoff comes around?
And so, here is what I discovered.
A long way home
So let's begin with a basic breakdown. Here will be looking at the outcomes of matches involving a road team taking a trip of at least 2,000 miles to face their home opposition.
We can see that overall, home teams facing off against such teams have covered the line in almost 51% of matches played in this situation. The exact cover rate for home teams of 50.7% through a sample size of over 900 matches, while not profitable at standard bookmaker commission rates, suggests that an dramatic change in geographical surrounds does not do much to assist the chances for a team to cover the betting line.
In fact, road teams taking a trip of at least 2,000 miles the last 20 seasons, have only covered the line 47% of the time, with just over 2% of matches in this situation resulting in a push i.e a tie with the betting line.
From west to east
So let's break the numbers down a little, and look at how road teams travelling at least 2,000 miles from west to east have performed against the line the last 20 seasons.
Clearly, an extensive trip from the west toward the east has a dramatic impact on a teams chances of covering the line. In this situation over the last 20 seasons, the home team has covered the line almost 54% of the time.
The exact number of 53.8%, a profitable figure at standard bookmaker commission even if marginally, reinforces the belief of many, that teams taking long road trips from the west struggle when facing off against eastern opponents.
Well, it's a matter of time. In particular, timezones. Consider a simple example, San Diego travelling to play the Jets in New York. If the match starts at 1pm New York time, San Diego are starting the match at 10am San Diego time.
Regardless of how much teams focus on preparation, expecting players to hit the ground running at 10am against a team playing at 1pm seems to have been a traditional issue for road teams coming from the west over the last 20 seasons.
And herein lays the issue. While this situation has been a profitable one to spy the last 20 seasons, can we expect this to remain so?
Perhaps not. Not only will teams enhance their travel routines as sports science advances, but more to the point, with the plethora of information now easily accessible to even the most casual NFL bettor, the betting public is getting wiser to such opportunities.
It's likely betting lines will factor in such information going forward, and if not, the line will be bet into by the public knowing the impact of such long road trips east.
It's quite possible such lines might even over adjust to this knowledge, giving value in the opposite direction. Either way, such situations will be of interest to even the most casual bettor going forward.
I know it's one I keep my eye on each season.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBexpert
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