Best post-Thanksgiving NFL head-coaching betting systems


As an NFL enthusiast, I’ve always believed the Thanksgiving holiday marks an important point in the season each year. Typically, it represents the beginning of the stretch run for every NFL campaign. Most teams usually have about five or six games remaining, and for some, it’s time to make their push to the playoffs, while for others, the goals become focused on next season or spoiling an opponent’s shot at the postseason.

It’s no secret that certain franchises or coaches can consistently up their games, and vice versa for those that struggle during this time of year. When you think of the league’s top teams over the last decade or so, it’s a good bet that they played some of their best football during the season’s later games.


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In this feature NFL piece, I have collected all the data for the current head coaches in the league in regard to their late season, or Post-Thanksgiving Day (PTD, which included Thanksgiving games and beyond) histories. I’ve looked at their performance trends from various angles, including overall, home/road, favorite/underdog, etc. I’ve also detailed their totals results.

After the series of charts illustrating the overall data, I’ve put together a list of 10 top PTD trends you’ll want to keep an eye on the rest of the way, along with some specific matchups in the coming weeks in which they might apply.

We all know, of course, that what happens from here on out will be influenced by plenty of other factors. For instance, what momentum has that team built in recent weeks? How does the schedule shape up for a particular team? Is a team playing theoretical “playoff games” already just trying to stay alive in the hunt for the postseason? Finally, what kind of weather is a team going to endure in its remaining games? As you can see, it’s not quite as cut and dry as simply looking at the turn of a calendar. Keep that in mind as you consider how much weight to give this PTD data when handicapping games the rest of the way.

In next week’s feature piece, I will project the rest-of-season schedule based on power ratings. This week’s piece, along with last week’s on NFL rematches should work hand-in-hand with that to get you ready for a profit-filled rest of the season.

One key note, these records and trends ONLY include regular season games.

Note: The current coaches not listed on the chart or below in trends are in their first seasons as head coaches with their respective teams.

Overall Results

The following chart shows the overall records of the current head coaches who have logged PTD games. The coaches are sorted in order of ATS percentage success:

In recent years, Buffalo and Green Bay have been two of the league’s best teams, and their home games are played in difficult weather environments, thus it’s not a huge surprise to see Sean McDermott and Matt LaFleur as the only coaches sporting ATS records over 60% in PTD games. For 2022, Buffalo is in good shape to continue this trend, while Green Bay will have to overcome its current woes to do so.

Perhaps even more impressive than the late-season feats of McDermott and LaFleur are the veteran coaches that have built great late-season resumes over longer periods. There are five that have won at least 55% ATS who have coached at least 57 PTD games. That group includes Mike McCarthy, Andy Reid, Ron Rivera, Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh. Those coaches are currently in positions where late-season surges could land playoff spots.

The most discouraging entry on the chart has to be Lovie Smith, whose Texans are again out of the postseason picture in 2022 and don’t figure to improve a lot. Nor do they seem able to play a spoiler role down the stretch if Smith’s recent late-season futility continues. Also, keep an eye on the trend regarding Mike Tomlin’s career late-season record, as his teams have gone under .500 in PTD games in his career, despite an overall run of success.

Interestingly, only 11 of the active 26 head coaches that have logged PTD games in the past have sub-.500 SU & ATS records. Then again, coaches that struggle in late season games typically can’t hang on to their jobs. Those that fare well do.

Overall Totals Results

Here is the data regarding totals for current active head coaches in PTD games:

The totals data on coaches that have gone OVER the total at better than a 60% clip in their PTD games is interesting. Only one of coach, Mike Vrabel, has coached more than eight such contests. Brandon Staley has the most one-sided totals trend of any coach, with his Chargers teams going over the total in six of seven games while averaging 30.6 PPG. Only LaFleur tops Staley in that latter statistic, with his Packers scoring 30.7 PPG.  Elsewhere, Bill Belichick’s performance on totals is unusual in that his team has allowed just 17.7 PPG, best in the league of the 26 active PTD-log coaches, yet his teams have gone OVER in 52% of the games.

McDermott leads the list of coaches that have trended UNDER in PTD games with at least 12 games on the resume, with his teams allowing a next-to-best 18 PPG. The most definitive UNDER coach by percentage is Arthur Smith, whose teams have gone UNDER at a 71% rate in seven contests, followed by Dennis Allen at 64%.

Home & Road Results

The home/road performance in PTD games shows some interesting dichotomy breakdowns:

The most interesting trend pattern to be observed when comparing the home and road PTD results chart involves Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh. His teams have been spectacular for bettors when playing on the road in late-season games, going 24-11 ATS. However, at home it’s been a struggle to cover the expectations of oddsmakers—20-25 ATS despite a gawdy 33-12 SU record. The Ravens have four road games remaining, starting with a trip to Jacksonville on Sunday.

Bill Belichick’s teams have been very reliable at home in late-season games over the years, notching a 45-26 ATS record, as have Mike McCarthy’s teams, 23-16 ATS, and Pete Carroll’s, 27-19 ATS.

I already detailed Harbaugh’s home struggles, but I should point out that Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals teams have gone just 2-7 ATS as late-season hosts. We’ll see if that changes in 2022, but it certainly doesn’t feel as if a strong season-ending run is coming from that team.

Three head coaches have achieved at least 75% ATS road success in PTD games, although none have coached more than 13 games. Still, the early success of McDermott is noteworthy as his team finds itself in a tight race for the AFC East Division title. The Bills have remaining road games against Detroit on Thursday, then New England, Chicago, and Cincinnati to close out the regular season. Besides McDermott, Harbaugh and Reid have road records that, if extended, could make a huge difference in eventual AFC playoff seeding.

Lovie Smith’s teams have proven to be play against options on the road in PTD games, as noted by the 10-19 ATS away mark. The Texans have road games versus Miami, Dallas, Tennessee, and Indianapolis remaining. Interestingly, only six other coaches find themselves below the 49% mark in road PTD ATS records. Again, coaches who struggle in late-season games typically don’t hold on to jobs long.

15 Other Top Coaching Trends in Post-Thanksgiving Day Situations

* Bill Belichick (New England) is 29-14 OVER the total (67%) vs. conference foes. Average Score: Team 29, Opponent 19, on an Average Total of 43.9

Steve’s Analysis: This angle shows how well Belichick’s offenses have performed in games down the stretch against fellow AFC foes. This includes a 4-2 OVER record in the 2021 season with Mac Jones as his quarterback. In fact, in the last three games last season, the Patriots put up 31.7 PPG. For 2022, the Pats have five remaining games vs. the AFC, starting with a 12/1 showdown versus the Bills.

* Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh) is 14-15 SU & 10-19 ATS (34%) vs. AFC foes. Average Score: Team 21.7, Opponent 20.8, on an Average Line of -3.5

Steve’s Analysis: I have to admit, I was surprised to see several of the negative angles, at least in terms of point spread success, in late-season games for Mike Tomlin, as he has been one of the league’s most respected coaches in his tenure in Pittsburgh. As you can see, his teams have not played up to Steelers’ standards in PTD games versus AFC foes. While it doesn’t figure to impact his team’s playoff prospects in 2022, note that Pittsburgh still faces five AFC foes the rest of the way, starting with this week’s MNF game at Indy.

* Dan Campbell (Detroit) is 3-1 SU & 4-0 ATS (100%) in divisional games. Average Score: Team 25, Opponent 20.8, on an Average Line of +5.9

Steve’s Analysis: The most interesting aspect of this trend is the average score versus the average line. In the four PTD divisional games that Campbell has coached, his teams have beaten opponents by 4.2 points per game, despite being underdogs of +5.9 on average. That is nearly a line flip. The Lions face all three of their NFC North rivals once the rest of the way, starting with a home contest against division-leading Minnesota on 12/11.

* Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland) is 3-3 SU but 0-6 ATS (0%) in divisional games. Average Score: Team 22.5, Opponent 24.8, on an Average Line of -2.1

Steve’s Analysis: Watching the Browns the rest of this regular season is going to be very interesting if for no other reason than seeing how DeShaun Watson fares as their quarterback. It has obviously been a disappointing season with QB Jacoby Brissett, but if Watson can turn things around late, particularly on this trend, there could be a lot to look forward to in Cleveland for 2023. The Browns’ next divisional game will be 12/11 in Cincinnati.

* Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona) is 1-7 SU & ATS (13%) in divisional games. Average Score: Team 19.8, Opponent 27.8, on an Average Line of +0.8

Steve’s Analysis: You don’t find many trends that show teams losing on point spreads by over 7.0 PPG, but this one illustrates just how poorly the Cardinals have fared under Kingsbury in late-season divisional games. This includes a current 0-6 SU & ATS skid, and the shame of it all was last year’s struggles cost them a shot at the NFC West title. There will be no such contention this year, and it doesn’t appear that Arizona will be in any position to play spoiler to the 49ers in the season finale.

* Sean McVay (LA Rams) is 11-5 SU & 12-4 ATS (75%) vs. divisional foes. Average Score: Team 28.1, Opponent 19.6, on an Average Line of -2.9

Steve’s Analysis: The one coach in the NFC West that has fared well in recent late-season divisional games has been Sean McVay. His Rams teams are 11-5 SU & 12-4 ATS in such games in his tenure, including 3-1 SU & ATS versus Seattle, who they will still meet twice in 2022. Of note, the Seahawks have scored just 12.3 PPG in such contests, and this season’s two games will obviously have a big impact on Seattle’s playoff chances.

* John Harbaugh (Baltimore) is 15-7 UNDER the total (68%) as favorite of more than a touchdown. Average Score: Team 27.3, Opponent 15.1, on an Average Total of 41.7

Steve’s Analysis: This trend is unique in that despite going UNDER the total in over 2/3 of the games, the average score has actually exceeded the average posted total. The Ravens’ late-season defense has been stout, particularly in games where they are the much better team overall. This is also significant because very few coaches last to a point where they are better than a TD in late-season games 22 times. Baltimore has won and covered the last six games of this nature, allowing 13.8 PPG. The first opportunity to take advantage of this angle figures to come next week (12/4) when the Ravens host the low-scoring Broncos.

* Matt LaFleur (Green Bay) is 5-1 SU & ATS (83%) as favorite of -1 to-7 points. Average Score: Team 31.3, Opponent 19.5, on an Average Line of -4.8

Steve’s Analysis: While granted that this seems to be a completely different Packers team in 2022 than the last three versions that LaFleur has coached, those teams were highly successful in the small favorite role. By all measures, they took care of business, putting up 31.3 PPG and winning by near 12 PPG while being favored by less than five. That has been a significant point cushion for ATS bettors. With how things have progressed in 2022, I could see a situation where Green Bay plays in the small favorite role on 12/19 vs. the Rams and 1/8 vs. Detroit, and perhaps even in Chicago on 12/4.

* Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas) is 4-0 OVER the total (100%) as a favorite. Average Score: Team 30, Opponent: 28.3, on an Average Total of 40

Steve’s Analysis: While I realize that this is a very small sample size, what is of note is how high the average score has been and how well McDaniels’ offenses have performed in late-season games when expected to win. These results all came while with Denver in the ’09 and ’10 seasons, but his current Raiders team does boast a lot of offensive talent, and thus I could see this trend continuing in 2022. I could see three or four different spots in 2022 where this trend might come into play, starting on 12/4 when the Raiders host the Chargers.

* Mike Vrabel (Tennessee) is 10-5 OVER the total (67%) as a favorite. Average Score: Team 30.8, Opponent 17.7, on an Average Total of 45.6

Steve’s Analysis: This is essentially the same angle as the one I described with McDaniels, only for Vrabel, there are a significantly higher number of samples. This trend’s average score doesn’t exceed the average posted total in such a high degree, but for the Titans to be scoring 30+ PPG is very impressive. Tennessee’s offense looked very sharp and balanced versus Green Bay in their last game, and they could be finding their momentum in time for another late season surge. Vrabel’s team figures to be a favorite at least three more times in the 2022 season, starting 12/11 at home versus Jacksonville.

* Ron Rivera (Washington) is 10-3 SU & 9-3-1 ATS (75%) vs. AFC foes. Average Score: Team 25.1, Opponent 18.5, on an Average Line of -1.7

Steve’s Analysis: In Ron Rivera’s two stops as a head coach in Carolina and Washington, his teams have consistently performed well in late-season games versus unfamiliar opposite conference foes. The average score has shown a comfortable point margin of +6.6 points per game. The Commanders will test this trend on 1/1 vs. Cleveland.

* Doug Pederson (Jacksonville) is 11-3 OVER the total (79%) in road games, Average Score: Team 26.1, Opponent 27.1, on an Average Total of 45.3

Steve’s Analysis: While with the Eagles, Pederson’s teams engaged in many high scoring late-season road games. The biggest problem was that they allowed 29 points or more eight times during this 14-game stretch, including the three most recent games. They lost all three of those SU & ATS. His Jaguars seem to be playing better defense of late and wouldn’t figure to yield so much down the stretch of 2022, but the totals also figure to be lower. The first test of this trend for Pederson’s new club comes 12/4 at Detroit, where the Lions have been known to put up a big number or two lately.

* Sean McDermott (Buffalo) is 4-0 SU & ATS (100%) as a road favorite. Average Score: Team 34.8, Opponent 12.5, on an Average Line of -5.5

Steve’s Analysis: McDermott’s Bills have only been PTD road favorites four times in his five seasons as head coach, but the results have been definitive. As you can see by the average scores, these games have been absolute routs. Buffalo will test this trend on Thursday in Detroit and likely three more times down the stretch as they aim for an AFC East crown.

* Lovie Smith (Houston) is 2-21 SU & 6-15-2 ATS (29%) as a road underdog. Average Score: Team 13.1, Opponent 24.5, on an Average Line of +6.1

Steve’s Analysis: This is an ugly NFL angle, showing just how poorly Lovie Smith’s Chicago and Tampa Bay teams have performed in the late-season road dog role. Averaging just 13.1 PPG, they have only won twice in 23 tries. With his current team, Houston, arguably the worst team in the NFL, this angle doesn’t figure to improve in 2022. Starting with a trip to Miami this Sunday, the Texans have four road contests remaining and, in all of them, figure to be underdogs.

* Dennis Allen (New Orleans) is 0-10 SU & 2-7-1 ATS (22%) as an underdog. Average Score: Team 17.6, Opponent 30.5, on an Average Line of +7.6

Steve’s Analysis: This is the ugliest trend on my list, with Dennis Allen’s former Raiders teams having failed to ever win a game outright in the underdog role. They were beaten on average by almost 13 PPG as well. Can his new team, the Saints, buck the trend in 2022? I wouldn’t count on it. They are 4-7 and have three very tough road games remaining, starting this week in San Francisco.

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Steve Makinen
As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.