Sandwich Games, Home Dogs and Arbitrage Bets

NFL Football Handicapping Tips: Sandwich Games, Home Dogs, and Arbitrage Bets

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Sandwich Games

A sandwich game is when a team plays two key games in a three-game
span, with the two big games sandwiching a less-important matchup. Sandwich
games are more common with good teams, being that it can become hard to
identify what games really matter once a team is out of contention.

If the Patriots are playing (in order) the Jets, the Vikings, and the Giants, which game may they not be totally up for? If you answered the Vikings, you are correct. Presumably, they would pour a lot of effort into their beating division rival–the Jets. And the next week after the Vikings game, they are playing their Super Bowl nemesis. So pay attention in spots like this. Was the Jets game an emotional, close, and taxing win? Is the Vikings game at home, meaning you could get a bunch of points and good value betting on the dog?

A good team is more likely to be firing on all cylinders in key match-ups. And when a game that seems unimportant on paper is sandwiched between two important games–the drop-off can be significant. This is not meant as a rule. There are no rules. And don’t think the sportsbooks don’t know about sandwich games, which could lead to them adjusting the odds ever so slightly to render this whole analysis moot.

But even if the books are on to it and act accordingly, bettors will still take the favored teams. And if they win the first leg of the 3-game sandwich series, that shows good momentum, which will get more people to bet on them–thus making taking the opposite side a potentially tantalizing proposition.

Home Underdogs

There are situations where betting on home underdogs is a heady play. The conditions need to be right. One situation is when a division rival is at home as an underdog. Sure, they are probably having a bad season, which is why they’re dogs at home. But if bad teams ever get up for a game–it’s in divisional home games.

Look for certain conditions. Some things to look for are home teams who are hosting a game for the second straight week, especially if they lost the first home game. They will be gunning to not drop two straight at home, particularly against a division rival. These are teams that play twice a year. There is pride at stake. Maybe there is a little hostility. It all helps the underdog team.

A team that is home for the second straight week is getting into their comfort zone. They are immersed in their stomping grounds, around family members, and starting to get into a routine. If a team like that is facing a favored team that is having their second straight road game, things could go their way. And again, this is not a system–just an observation. If it stands up to your handicapping and a lot of the different conditions described here are lined-up–give it a whirl.

Arbitrage Bets

If you ever make a bet on both sides of the wager, where either result nets you a profit–that is called an arbitrage bet. It can be a result of the sportsbooks having widely divergent opinions or even sloppy bookmaking, where a book fails to move quickly in light of some mid-week developments that could sway a number, like an injury or a suspension. In cases like these, the disparity in odds can make it profitable to bet both sides equally.

There are many drawbacks. First of all, it’s easy to make mistakes doing this. Say you are online and see that an arbitrage is possible. the shelf-life is usually very short, meaning you can easily think you have an arb, but the number moves against you in the midst of you trying to put it all together. And it could also draw the ire of the sportsbooks, causing them to lower your limits or in the cases of the lower-end books, give them enough of a reason to stiff you altogether.

And sometimes, the edge is so slight that you have to invest big sums to even make it worthwhile. And what if one of the bets gets cancelled? Now you’re stuck, potentially crippling your bankroll chasing arbitrage edges. Ugh. And being overly-geared to getting an edge like this takes your mind off what you should be doing, which is trying beat this game legitimately, not by hunting for disparate lines like a weasel.

At the same time, if you see an arbitrage opportunity that is more stabilized and not in an etch-o-sketch format–it’s hard to pass up free money. Just pick your spots very carefully.

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