NFL Week 3 System: Schedule Surprises

by Al McMordie

The NFL schedule maker generally gives each of the teams one home game and one road game to start the season.  But, every so often, a team will start out with multiple road games, or multiple home games.

We are currently in Week 3 of the 2021 NFL schedule, and there are four teams playing their first game at home:

Denver Broncos (home) vs. New York Jets
Minnesota Vikings (home) vs. Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers (home) vs. Green Bay Packers
Dallas Cowboys (home) vs. Philadelphia Eagles

And there are three teams playing their first game on the road:

Indianapolis Colts (road) vs. Tennessee Titans
Washington Football Team (road) vs. Buffalo Bills
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (road) vs. Los Angeles Rams

The knee-jerk reaction by many gamblers is to play on these home teams playing a "later" home opener, as they assume they'll be psyched to finally be at home.  And gamblers also tend to go against the road teams playing a later "road" opener, as they assume they'll not be ready for a hostile environment after opening with multiple home games.

But do the data bear out these assumptions?

Not surprisingly, they absolutely do not.

First, let's look at how home teams do at Game 3 forward in their home opener.  Since 1980, our home teams are a dreadful 54-82-4 (39.7%), including 7-18 ATS vs. opponents playing their first road game, and 26-51-2 ATS vs. non-division opponents.  That's some serious pain inflicted by these teams in front of their home faithful.  This upcoming week, each of Denver, MInnesota and San Francisco fall into our negative 26-51-2 ATS subset, as they're matched up against non-division foes.

Now, let's flip it around, and review how our road teams have fared in their first road game, at Game 3 forward.  Since 1980, our virgin roadies are 76-60-4 ATS (55.8%), including 58-34 ATS as underdogs of +11 or less points, and 34-20-2 ATS vs. division rivals.  Indianapolis and Washington fall into our 58-34 ATS subset, as they've been installed as underdogs vs. their respective opponents.  And the Colts additionally fall into the 34-20-2 ATS subset, as they're playing a division opponent.

Good luck, as always...
Al McMordie


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