How do Saturday NFL Games Compare to Other Short-Rest Situations?

How do Saturday NFL Games Compare to Other Short-Rest Situations?

It’s that NFL Saturday time of year, folks. Instead of getting mediocre games three nights a week, we now get mediocre games FOUR nights a week. 

Alright, maybe I’m off my hinges a bit since one of the games this weekend might be pretty good and one of the games next weekend may feature the Vikings at Lambeau against Aaron Rodgers.

Since these games aren’t standard operating procedure for NFL teams, I decided to take a look at some Saturday trends in the 72-game sample that our Bet Labs software has tracked since the 2003 season.

  • Favorites: 36-33-3 ATS (52.2%)
  • Visiting teams: 41-27-2 ATS (60.3%)
  • Winning teams (excluding duplicates): 24-13-2 ATS (64.9%)
  • Teams getting 30% of spread bets or less: 9-13-1 ATS (40.9%)
  • Teams with a 70% cover rate or higher: 7-0 ATS (Percentage not necessary, I hope)
  • Teams with a 30% cover rate or lower: 7-4 ATS (63.6%)
  • Moneyline dogs: 24-46 (+10.7 units, 15.2% ROI)
  • Moneyline visitors: 38-31 (+20.1 units, 29.1% ROI)
  • Overs: 39-30-2 (56.5%)
  • Division overs: 21-12-2 (63.6%)
  • Freezing temperature overs: 5-0 (You know the drill)

There are definitely a few nice trends despite our small sample size. What sticks out to me the most is that visiting teams have dominated, but why? Unfortunately, I don’t have an explanation as to why visitors have done so well. However, I don’t believe they’ll keep winning and covering at this rate as it’s likely a product of the small sample size.

Winning/elite teams against the spread have also excelled, which makes a lot more sense to me. Given that both teams will be playing on short rest and the game is played towards the end of the season, the superior team should reign supreme. However, that doesn’t really help explain why favorites are just a few games above .500.

For comparison’s sake, I also analyzed how the trends above lined up with teams coming off a Monday Night Football game (also on six days rest) in December or January. Are the results due to the day of the week or simply the number of days between games? Just a note before we start, teams in this situation have gone 62-69-4 ATS so they don’t exactly get started on the right foot.

  • Favorites: 34-39-2 ATS (46.6%)
  • Visitors: 23-26-1 ATS (46.9%)
  • Winning teams (excluding duplicates): 14-18-1 ATS (43.8%)
  • Teams getting 30% of spread bets or less: 6-11-2 ATS (35.3%)
  • Teams with a 70% cover rate or higher: 6-5 ATS (54.5%)
  • Teams with a 30% cover rate or lower: 9-8-1 ATS (52.9%)
  • Moneyline dogs: 15-43 (-16.9 units, -29.1% ROI)
  • Moneyline visitors: 19-31 (-9.1 units, -18.2% ROI)
  • Overs: 72-59-3 (55.0%)
  • Division overs: 25-32-2 (43.9%)
  • Freezing temperature overs: 15-10 (60%)

The only trends that remain the same are essentially the overs and “freezing overs”. I’ve referenced this a few times in other articles, but late season divisional ‘unders’ have been a strong play historically. Why that didn’t apply to Saturday games is beyond me.

Since most of these teams’ opponents are coming off a full week of rest, they are at more of a disadvantage than two teams playing on a Saturday. That should help explain the lower cover rates to a degree.

Take these trends as you will. I believe that nondivisional ‘overs’ would probably be the best route, but of course there are none of those this Saturday. Until we get a few more years of Saturday games under our belt, you may be better off treating it like any normal day.

Mark Gallant

I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.

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