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On November 23, 2006, the NFL hosted Thursday Night Football for the first time in a game that featured a Denver Broncos loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. That initial result has been a harbinger for how to bet NFL Thursday Night Football ever since.
Thursday Night Football has become a tradition much to the delight of NFL fans that simply cannot wait for the weekend to quench their thirst for professional football. The players, themselves, are less excited about the prospect citing less recovery time from the previous weekend's contest. But when you are talking about sports betting, it is not about the fan or the players. It is about making money and Thursday Night Football delivers a tremendous opportunity to do just that.
When handicapping a Thursday Night game, it is extremely important to identify the home team. The simplicity of this may seem absurd, but when you factor in that home teams cover the spread at a 56% clip and 61% of the time as the home favorite, you will see why the location of the game is so paramount. The sample size is fairly significant, as well, with a total of over 100 games and counting.
The reason why this trend produces such consistent winners is fairly obviously. With a short amount of travel time between games, traveling teams do not have enough time to prepare. Players are spending time packing instead of reviewing game film, studying game plan, and rehabbing. Home teams can spend that time doing everything that the traveling teams cannot. For whatever reason, the odds makers still have not adjusted the spread enough to account for this.
Rounding Out the Handicap
No one should bet a trend blindly, but playing the home team on a Thursday Night is a fantastic place to start. When rounding out the handicap, it is important to look at the amount of injuries, previous week's opponent and location. If there are a bevy of questionable players, they may not be able to play effectively or play at all because of the injuries. If a team had an important game the previous week, they may be overlooking the Thursday Night game or find themselves in a let down spot. If the Thursday Night away team also traveled the week before, it compounds the issues previously mentioned. There are thousand different angles to handicap a football game, but focusing on these factors will point the bettor in the right direction.
There is an exception to the Thursday Night trend. Home teams tend to over perform compared to their expectations because of limited time to prepare, rehab, game plan, etc. However, in Week 1, all of these concerns are generally mute because the traveling team has ample time without a meaningful game the week beforehand.
By Steve Rieder
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