Handicapping the NFL's Penultimate Week

by Al McMordie

Monday, Dec 26, 2022
There are two weeks to go in this NFL regular season.  But handicapping each of these weeks is fraught with challenges.  Some teams have already clinched a playoff berth; others are still fighting to get in; and yet others have already been eliminated.  But unlike the final week of the regular season, the penultimate (i.e., "next-to-last") week sees much less sitting of players to avoid injury (which is why Fantasy leagues play their championship in the penultimate week).

Let's take a look at the point spread data from 1980 thru 2021 for the penultimate week.  

There have been 633 games played.

First, let's take a look at the Over/Unders.  The edge goes to the Unders.  They've gone 326-289-18 (53.0%).

Now, let's review the data for the Sides.

Underdogs have the decisive edge.  In the next-to-last week, the pups have barked loudly, with a 338-270-17 ATS record (55.5%).  Broken down, home underdogs have gone 120-87-7 ATS (57.9%), while road dogs have gone 218-183-10 ATS (54.3%).

In matchups between winning teams, the home team has gone 68-57-2 ATS (54.4%).

In matchups between losing teams, the home team has gone 57-53-4 ATS (51.8%).

In matchups between a winning and non-winning team, the winning teams have gone 143-157-10 ATS (47.6%), including 68-73-4 ATS at home.

In Monday Night games, the underdog has gone 28-13 ATS (68.2%), including 15-6 ATS home and 13-7 ATS on the road.

The revenge-minded teams have gone 144-131-9 ATS (52.3%).

Teams playing their final home game of the season have gone 227-225-10 ATS (50.2%), while teams playing their final road game of the season have gone 217-234-11 ATS (48.1%).

And beware of the really bad teams that still playing with heart.  For example, NFL teams with a .250 (or worse) win percentage have gone 20-5 ATS (80.0%) in the next-to-last week of the season if they won their previous game.  That would apply to the Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville this week.  Conversely, really good teams, with a win percentage of .750 (or better), have gone just 13-16 ATS (44.8%) in the penultimate week off a straight-up loss.  An example of that for this week would be the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans.

Good luck, as always,
Al McMordie

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2024 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.