Debunking the Monday Night winner trend

Some seasoned bettors are saying a play on the 49ers as a 2.5 point home favorite against the Bucs yesterday was like stealing money. After all, the Bucs fell into one popular NFL betting trend: Bet against a team that won outright on the previous Monday night.

In theory, that trend makes sense for the following reasons:
1) NFL teams are creatures of habit. The short week wrecks havoc.
2) Playing on Monday night at home is an emotional experience. The following week is a letdown spot.
3) The point spread is often skewed. Everyone saw the Bucs win on Monday night and saw enough reason to bet on them the next week. Betting off “last week” is a certain recipe for disaster.

However, the public — and Vegas — has adjusted to this trend. Over the last two seasons, betting against the outright Monday Night Football winner the following week has hit at just 40 percent (8-of-12). In other words, it’s been a big loser.

There were many factors at play in that Bucs game, but the point of the below research is to debunk the myth of the “MNF winner” trend. Yes, the Bucs were a young team on a short week and going across the country. But they also became overrated last season thanks to a ridiculously favorable schedule. And the Niners’ defense is one of the more underrated units around.

So take a look at the recent history below before we blindly bet against the winner of tonight’s Bears vs. Lions game next week (oh, and I‘ll give my pick at the bottom if you make it that far):

2011
Week 1 outright MNF winners: Patriots and Raiders
Week 2 result: Patriots covered at home. Raiders covered in Buffalo.
Trend: 0-2

Week 2 outright MNF winner: Giants
Week 3 result: Giants covered in Philadelphia
Trend: 0-3

Week 3 outright MNF winner: Cowboys
Week 4 result: Cowboys didn’t cover at home.
Trend: 1-3

Week 4 MNF winner: Bucs
Week 5 result: Bucs didn’t cover in San Francisco
Trend: 2-3

2010
Week 1 outright MNF winners: Ravens, Chiefs
Week 2 result: Ravens didn’t cover in Cincinnati. Chiefs covered in Cleveland.
Trend: 3-4

Week 2 outright MNF winner: Saints
Week 3 result: Saints didn’t cover at home.
Trend: 4-4

Week 3 outright MNF winner: Bears
Week 4 result: Bears didn’t cover in New York (Giants).
Trend: 5-4

Week 4 outright MNF winner: Patriots
Week 5 result: Patriots had a bye
Trend: 5-4

Week 5 outright MNF winner: Jets
Week 6 result: Jets covered in Denver
Trend: 5-5

Week 6 outright MNF winner: Titans
Week 7 result: Titans covered at home
Trend: 5-6

Week 7 outright MNF winner: Giants
Week 8 result: Giants had a bye.
Trend: 5-6

Week 8 outright MNF winner: Colts
Week 9 result: Colts covered in Philadelphia
Trend 5-7

Week 9 outright MNF winner: Steelers
Week 10 result: Steelers didn’t cover at home.
Trend: 6-7

Week 10 outright MNF winner: Eagles
Week 11 result: Eagles covered at home.
Trend: 6-8

Week 11 outright MNF winner: Chargers
Week 12 result: Chargers covered in Indy.
Trend: 6-9

Week 12 outright MNF winner: 49ers
Week 13 result: 49ers didn’t cover in Green Bay
Trend: 7-9

Week 13 outright MNF winner: Patriots
Week 14 result: Patriots covered in Chicago
Trend: 7-10

Week 14 outright MNF winner: Ravens
Week 15 result: Ravens covered at home.
Trend: 7-11

Week 15 outright MNF winner: Bears
Week 16 result: Bears covered at home
Trend: 7-12

Week 16 outright MNF winner: Saints
Week 17 result: Saints didn’t cover at home
Trend: 8-12

TONIGHT’S PICK
Good rule for any serious sports bettor: Don’t chase a weekend’s worth of losses (and I certainly had that) on Monday night. If we like the game, we play it. If we don’t, we pay up and start fresh next week.

Along those lines, I will not be playing tonight’s game. But if forced, I would take the Bears. The Lions hype has reached epic proportions, to the point where they are a 6.5 point favorite against a team that made the NFC Title game last year. And the public is on the Lions at a 60/40 rate tonight. At some point, the Lions are going to come back to earth and tonight’s national stage is a likely place they’ll start. Bears 23, Lions 20. 


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