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,