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Editor's Note: Steve Rieder has accumulated a 207-172-1 record, +13.16 units over the course of the 2021 & 2022 NFL seasons. Get access to his full record, pick by pick, on our NFL bets tracker spreadsheet
HOW TO BET NFL LONDON GAMES
Since 2007, the NFL started traveling over to London, England to play in Wembly Stadium. The reasons the NFL started to send teams over is obvious: they hoped to secure more fans abroad, which will increase revenue. The reasons why the sports bettor should care about the game is also equally obvious: it provides profitable opportunities.
London has hosted 28 games and counting. Of those 25 games, the underdog has won exactly six games outright and only covering the spread 10 times. That means underdogs win 16% of the time and only cover 32%. The once thought to be limited sample size has grown enough to make this trend actionable. Also, in non-Jaguars London games, the favorite has won 15-7 games (68%). Take the favorite or pass.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The Jacksonville Jaguars were the team most impacted by the institution of the London game. The Jags played a "home" game there every year since 2013. No NFL team has played more games abroad than the Jaguars. When they first started playing in London, they would travel early in the week so the players could get accustomed to the time change and new location. As time progressed, they quickly found that the players played better when they traveled to the country later in the week.
However, if there is one team to be used as a case study, it is the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick has made the New England Patriots the gold standard of the NFL. Their methodology, culture, and organizational mindset are to be marveled and followed. So it would make sense to identify the Patriots strategy in London games and follow their lead. In 2017, the New England Patriots were in this exact position. Did they fly out a week in advance or a few days beforehand? Neither. Actually, the New England Patriots flew out the day of the contest. They went on to dismantle the Oakland Raiders 33-8.
Teams that arrive early in the week have a tendency to be distracted. They are in a new country with lots of places to see and things to do. By showing up later in the week, or, in the case of the New England Patriots, the day of the game, there isn't as much time for distraction. Identify the team that shows up last and lean your handicap to that side.
BRONCOS vs. JAGUARS
London game history says we should look to Jacksonville as the favorite and because they are the adopted, de facto home team. Perhaps there is value now under the key number 3, but all the money has been on the Broncos in this one. I’m not sure how much is because of the matchup versus the fact that Russell Wilson is playing. The Let Russ Cook crowd has gone quiet as he’s been serving the equivalent of Raman in Mile High. Even with his ineffectiveness (30th PFF, 29th in QBR), Russell Wilson has moved this line from the 4.5 opener to 2.5. The catalyst may have been the removal of Brett Rypien and his 32.7 QBR last week rather than the insertion of Russell Wilson. With the Seahawks offense on fire, it has highlighted the concern for the Denver offense with Russ at the helm. There is a slight reason for optimism. The procedure Wilson had a couple of weeks ago was supposed to take a couple of weeks to take effect. If Russ can become even an average quarterback, this Denver defense will make the Broncos formidable. Jacksonville is playing better than their record suggests, but I’m pessimistic about Trevor Lawrence against a top 5 defense. I’m also interested in seeing if the Jaguars' faithful want to anoint Trevor Etienne after playing one of the best run defenses in the league. I gave out Denver +4.5 at the aforementioned opener assuming Wilson would be available. Now that he is, I’m at the market, which makes this a straight pass for me.
By Steve Rieder
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