Winning games in the NFL is no easy task. Winning games while playing on the road is even tougher. Winning games on the road while facing a myriad of additional detrimental factors is a different beast altogether.
Long travel, short rest, hostile environments and unfamiliar, inclement weather are just a few of the reasons that contributed to the 32 NFL franchises posting a combined 114-152-1 (.428) road record in 2012. But all road games are not created equal.
Last summer we took a look at a five-year trend (2007-2011) that saw NFL teams go 12-37 straight-up (.245) and 17-32 against the spread (.347) when playing a non-conference opponent on the road one week before a road date with a divisional rival. After completing the research, we found eight games on the 2012 schedule that offered up the same situation. Those eight games bucked the trend, with the road team in the non-conference showdown posting a 5-3 mark both SU and ATS.
That gives us a six-year record of 17-40 SU (.298) and 22-35 ATS (.385) for teams that visit a non-conference opponent one week before a divisional showdown on the road. To put that into more appealing terms, had you bet $110 to win $100 against the road team in each of those 57 non-conference matchups over the last five years, you would currently be in the black $1,080.
A thorough look at the 2013 schedule reveals that five such situations will occur this season. Here’s a preview along with the opening point spreads from Cantor Gaming.