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How the NFL Schedule Impacts Betting Choices

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Each year, the NFL scheduling process is a chore. The idea behind the scenes of the schedule is to promote competitive balance. As a result, teams know in advance which teams from one in-conference division and one out-of-conference division they will play.
The league also tries to achieve balance by having last-place finishers in a division play other last-place finishers from other divisions. As much as the league tries, it still is driven by its most prized possession - television revenue.
In the end, the annual NFL schedule is ripe with what could be considered unfairness. While trying to be “equal,” the league ends up having an impact on teams’ performances just based on the schedule. It can affect bettors too.
Prep Time & Rest
The biggest issue when it comes to scheduling is giving teams enough recovery and preparation time for the next game. At the very least, there is an attempt to equate the number of days off between games.
That doesn’t always happen.
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A team that plays on a Thursday night and then doesn’t play until the following Sunday gets three extra days when playing a team that plays on consecutive Sundays. Those three extra days can play a major role in an outcome. It is something savvy bettors should take into account when placing wagers.
Look no further than NFL betting data on teams coming off of a bye week. Since 2001, teams coming off a bye are 312-274-3. That’s a winning percentage of .532.
This data can be useful. In the 2020 schedule, for example, Green Bay and Detroit will have the first byes of the season in Week 5. The Packers will play at Tampa Bay in a late game Sunday and the Lions are on the road at Jacksonville. Both Green Bay and Detroit will have had more rest and preparation time than their opponents.

Strength of Schedule
There are some things that teams simply can’t control. They can’t control which teams are in their division and they can’t control the crossover games. Teams crossover and play all the teams in a division from the other conference while also playing all the teams in a division from their own conference. Bettors have trouble controlling this as well, which is why gambler’s insurance can be your best ally.
Sometimes, it just works out like this. Baltimore finished 14-2 last season. That was the best record in the NFL. In 2020, the Ravens will play a schedule with strength measured at .437.
That is significant because there is no other strength of schedule ranked below .455. In essence, the team with the best record in the NFL a year ago will play the easiest schedule in the league in 2020.
Check out the Raven’s three-game stretch to close the season in Weeks 15, 16, and 17. Baltimore will face Jacksonville (6-10 last year), the New York Giants (4-12), and finish it off with the Cincinnati Bengals (2-14).
The league attempts to promote parity by scheduling games with opponents with similar records from the previous season. There are many times where it just doesn’t work.
Seattle went 11-5 and earned a wild card last year. The Seahawks have a late-season stretch that is almost laughable. Bettors could be all over Seattle in Weeks 13, 14, and 15.
The Seahawks have consecutive home games against those same 4-12 Giants and then the Jets (7-9). Seattle then travels to Washington (3-13) in Week 15.
Since 2012, Seattle has played 20 regular season home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone. The Seahawks record? 16-4.
Fair or not, the 2020 NFL schedule will play a role in the outcome of a number of games. Bettors should be aware of scheduling factors as they place their weekly wagers.
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