As varied as the menu board at a Deli shop, there are numerous strategies when it comes to betting on the National Football League. Included on the list is the “Sandwich Game Theory” that many bettors incorporate into their weekly handicapping research. Many factors can make a match a sandwich game and each variable should be taken into account when betting with this option.
Trends Vary When Betting On Sandwich Game Theories
Most prevalent, of all sandwich game theories, is one that involves a top squad facing a bottom feeder - following a tough matchup and prior to another difficult game. The premise here is that a team may take their foot off the gas, against a mediocre squad, as they “look ahead” to the more difficult contest. While they would say they didn’t back off, New England offers an example here during a three-game road run in 2017. After beating Buffalo 23-7, and ahead of a match against conference rival Pittsburgh, the Pats went into Miami and lost 27-20 to the 5-7 'Fins.
That loss came just two weeks after New England mashed Miami 35-17 on their home turf at Gillette Stadium. Whether the Patriots took the Dolphins seriously is debatable but the sandwich game theory could certainly apply in that situation. Prior to that match, the Patriots had won three straight over the Dolphins by a 101-55 combined final count. Add in the fact that the Pats next match was in Pittsburgh, and home field advantage in the AFC playoffs was going to be on line, and one can see how New England may have looked past their duel with the Dolphins.
“Teams easing up vs lessor squads is the meat of the sandwich game theory”
Bettors who incorporate the sandwich game theory into their weekly research, and noticed the Patriots at Dolphins match as a possible “trap game” cashed in big time with Miami. That is due to the NFL betting lines on that contest having Miami as +10.5 home dogs against the spread and +425 on money line. A huge leap of faith was required to wager on Miami as New England rolled into South Beach riding an eight game winning streak. There was a precedent though, as the Patriots had lost 24-20 in Miami prior to a conference showdown vs Baltimore in 2013.
NFL Week 17 Often Offers Up Unique Sandwich Match Opportunities
Season ending games can also qualify as a sandwich game as playoff bound squads often sit their stars during Week 17 action. Philadelphia offers an example here as the Eagles hosted playoff eliminated Dallas during the final match of their Super Bowl winning campaign in 2017. Philadelphia was riding a 13-2 winning run while the Cowboys were 8-7 and had just lost 21-12 at home to Seattle. Recognizing the Eagles had nothing to play for, since they had already locked up NFC home field advantage, bettors backing the ‘Boys cashed in when Dallas won 6-0.
Whether bookmakers take the sandwich game theory into account when setting their lines is debatable – though it’s certainly plausible. That wasn’t the case during Week 6 action in 2016 though as Miami, who often trend as tough sandwich game opponents, were +7.5 home pups versus 4-1 Pittsburgh. The Steelers had just rolled Kansas City (43-14) and the NY Jets (31-13) during two Steel City contests. With a home date vs New England next up, Big Ben & Crew laid an egg in Miami as the Dolphins demolished them 30-15 and sandwich game backers cashed in.
Traps Exist - Do Not Blindly Bet On The NFL Sandwich Game Theory
Betting on the sandwich game theory can also result in bankroll busting losses. Los Angeles provides a solid example here, as the Rams were 6-0 ahead of a road contest against the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers in 2018. Playing their third straight road game, and with a home date against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers up next, the Rams rolled into Levi's Stadium as -9 ATS chalk. After struggling some, during a close 23-20 win in Denver, the Rams match against the 49ers looked like a classic sandwich game. It wasn’t though as LA rolled to a 39-10 cover.
“Beware of perceived sandwich games that can be bankroll busting contests”
Teams playing neutral site games can also set up sandwich game traps. An example occurred in 2017. Minnesota, was marching along with a 5-2 record, including three straight wins, as they headed across the pond for a match with the 0-7 Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium in London. Knowing they were on a BYE next, prior to facing division rival Detroit; the Vikings could have easily taken the Browns lightly. Instead, as the better team usually does during games played in the UK, the NFC Championship runner up Vikings crushed Cleveland 33-16.
NFL ‘Cappers are also advised to be careful when betting against streaking teams that are playing an “easy” home game, vs a non-division opponent, prior to a road game against a division rival. That is a big part of the sandwich game theory, which is often predicated on winning teams looking past "easy" battles and forward to the perceived more “important” match ahead. Green Bay offered proof of that during their 15-1 season in 2011 as they faced 0-4 St. Louis prior to a trip to Minnesota. The Packers, as -14 ATS chalk, covered with a 24-3 victory.
"Betting on winning teams looking past lessor opponents is not a lock"
Proper research is important in the handicapping game and scanning various “expert” opinions, prior to forming your own, should be part of the process. Yours truly visits a site weekly as the ‘Capper there is a huge fan of the sandwich game theory. During 2018 Week 6 action he noted that Carolina was fresh of a last-second home win and were heading out on the road to play Washington who just lost 43-19 in New Orleans during MNF. Sensing a lunch bag letdown, he loaded up on the Redskins while we went the other way and cashed when the Cats won 23-17.
Sandwich Game Bottom Line Plus Where To Bet On NFL Action
We take notice when pundits suggest a team will “look past” a perceived inferior opponent. NFL squads play 16 games and all of them are important. That is evident by teams missing out on a playoff berth, by just one loss, during every season in NFL history. While it happens, forecasting winning teams easing up in any match is an intangible we normally avoid. As such, we don’t let the sandwich game theory sway us very often. No matter the betting strategy – wagering at top online bookmakers is always a fantastic step towards cashing profit-taking NFL tickets.