NFL In December
By Marc Lawrence
Holiday jeer brings holiday cheer to moneymaking teams in the NFL this time of the year as it winds down the 2012 regular season this month.
And while the weather outside can be frightful, SU and ATS results can be delightful. Especially for a dozen teams whose sights are set on working through the holidays.
Let’s examine some the very best and very worst team trends of NFL teams throughout the month of December, broken down into five major categories: Home, Away, Favorite, Dog and Division.
All results are extracted from the 2012 PLAYBOOK Football Handicappers Yearbook magazine and are since 1990. Ho, ho, ho and a Merry Christmas to all.
HOME TEAMS -
• Good: For teams in contention, the NFL season starts after Thanksgiving, where each and every game really counts either to make the playoffs or work into the position they would desire to be at. One aspect is taking care of business at home and Houston and Seattle have done so this month of the year. The Texans are 14-6 ATS at Reliant Stadium and will have Indianapolis and Minnesota pay a visit.
Seattle can possibly secure a wild card spot with three home games and interestingly enough, all are division encounters. The home of the “12th Man” is 29-14 ATS at this location.
• Keep an eye on: December is the time of year where the term “frozen tundra” really applies at Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Packers are 27-16 ATS and has three teams coming to the hallowed grounds, including what could be a frosty Sunday night affair versus Detroit.
• Keep an eye on (Bad): The schedule-makers did not do the Buffalo Bills any favors, having just four home games until the final month of the season. The Bills might have the weather edge, but this seldom mattered with a 16-27 ATS mark.
Like the Bills, playing well is more about talent and St. Louis has come up short with a 15-25 spread record on the shores of the Mississippi River. The Rams will have a pair of opportunities to prove they will not fold with Jeff Fisher as coach.
It seems hard to comprehend New Orleans could be 17-31 ATS this month. When you consider before Drew Brees arrived, this was a moribund franchise. The Saints will see Carolina and Tampa Bay march into the Crescent City.
AWAY TEAMS -
• Bad: It almost does not seem possible Chicago could be 10-30 ATS in the final month of the year, when you think about how well they have played defense over the years, yet it’s true. At least weather will not be part of the problems with trips to Minnesota, Arizona and Detroit.
Before Jim Harbaugh took over the reins, the last above average head coach San Francisco had was the NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci (1997-2002), which laid the groundwork for the 49ers 15-30 ATS record. The Niners will have three chances to solve this conundrum, including a Sunday night dandy in New England.
• Keep an eye on: If Cincinnati is going back to the playoffs, they will have to win on the road with three contests on the docket. The Bengals are a dismal 14-25 ATS and have games in San Diego and a pair in the Keystone State.
While many will think of Christmas trees and lights this month, Oakland Raiders fans know their team will tank on the road with a 16-29 ATS mark. After three straight home games, Da Raiders close at Carolina and at San Diego. Happy Holidays Oakland backers.
• Keep an eye on (Good): For NFL bettors, Green Bay is the Mariano Rivera of closing the season in style at 40-22 ATS when dishing out points. The Packers will be favored in four of their final five outings in 2012.
• Bad: One would surmise playing in the balmy south Florida weather would be an advantage, especially with the humidity sapping opposing team’s strength. Well, it’s not for Miami, who is a horrifying 18-41 ATS when in the role of favorite. Fortunately (unless you want to bet against them), the Dolphins will be doling out digits just to Jacksonville and Buffalo this month.
• Keep an eye on: Dallas has long history of crumbling late in the season and this shows up on their spread record at 17-31 ATS. With this Cowboys club as dissonant as any, they could be favored up to three times the rest of the way.
This New York Jets team is headed for a crash landing. The Flyboys are a miserable 13-23 ATS as chalk and with home games against Arizona and San Diego, this should be the only two times they will be favored.
• Keep an eye on (Good): In today’s NFL, the Giants are solid wager when receiving points any time and they usually make it a December to remember with a 31-18 ATS mark. Expect New York to be underdogs at Atlanta and at Baltimore.
Seattle has been ‘man’s best friend’ in the role of a dog at 38-20 ATS. For sure the Seahawks are catching points in the Windy City and might also be at Buffalo and home to the Niners.
Football bettors backing Carolina should have an ornament on their tree to celebrate how the Panthers deliver with a 25-13 ATS record to finish the year. The Cats should be seeing a few points at San Diego and at New Orleans and on Dec.9 when Atlanta returns to Charlotte.
• Keep an eye on (Bad): The Bears and Raiders have already been mentioned as lousy bets away from home. Naturally, they play like dead tired dogs and Chicago is 17-33 ATS when assigned points and Oakland is 19-33 ATS. Watch to see how often this occurs.
• Good: The Carolina Panthers are like the last present you open, which turns out to be precisely what you wanted. Carolina is a sweet 21-8 ATS versus NFL South opponents and still have Atlanta (Dec.9) and at New Orleans (Dec. 30) on the docket.
• Keep an eye on: Philadelphia’s play this season will test what their past has been like in NFC East December battles at 27-15 ATS, mostly under coach Andy Reid. With three division tilts left, these Eagles might be like the ghosts of Christmas’s past when coached by Nick Skorich, Joe Kuharich, Jerry Williams and Mike McCormack (1961-75), when Philly fans learned to boo their 58-102-8 overall record.
Seattle is a wicked 24-14 ATS, and as mentioned above, the Seahawks have three division home games remaining.
• Bad: Miami backers end up with coal in their stocking for Christmas when supporting their favorite team against division rivals at 14-30 ATS. Whether its teams like the
Patriots and Bills in town this season, enjoying the warm weather or a chilly trip to New England on Dec. 30, it is all bad news for the Fins.
Doug Upstone of Sports-Watch.com contributed to this article.
- O (TEX at NYY)
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The visitors hand the ball to ace Cole Hamels (8-1, 2.79 ERA) who comes in off a dominant outing vs. the Reds on Wednesday, allowing just one run off five scattered hits over six innings in the 6-4 win. Hamels’ peripherals are ugly though and it’s now just a matter of time before the baseball gods come back to strike him down as his 1.40 HR/9 and 3.44 BB/9 are both career worsts, while his 4.57 FIP is horrible. Hamels will be opposed by Yanks veteran CC Sabathia, who like his counterpart today, has opened the season strong, but who has also shown some “cracks in the armor.” Sabathia (5-4, 2.20 ERA) is approaching 36 years old and while he’s been superb to this point, like Hamels there’s plenty of tell tale signs that the southpaw is about to take a step back, as his FIP is a full point higher than his ERA and his xFIP (which is considred by most experts as being the best predictor for future ERA) is more than two runs higher. Also note that he’s a rather pedestrian 1-2 with a 3.58 ERA in front of the home town crowd this year. We’re going to recommend a play on the OVER in this one.
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