Sports bettors are constantly reminded of trends before games take place in an effort to help them make more informed decisions when placing wagers. One such trend is about winning streaks, with the media regularly mentioning any time that football teams have strung together consecutive victories. But how important are win streaks really, and what should bettors do with the knowledge that a team is on a roll?
How Important are Win Streaks?
Win streaks are important in that they signify that a team is executing the way that they need to in order to win football games. They can help teams build momentum that they can use to play confidently in pressure situations in future games as well. But win streaks are not predictive of what is going to happen in the next game.
The problem with the role of win streaks in football handicapping is that many bettors take them at face value. A team winning five straight games is always impressive, but it could be more or less impressive than it sounds, depending on the circumstances surrounding those victories.
Consider the Context
The most important thing that a bettor can do with winning streaks in football is to put them into the proper context. For example, if a team has won five straight games, but all five came against teams that are in last place in their division, that is not as impressive a streak as it sounds like. On the other hand, a five-game winning streak against teams in playoff positions would be a sign that a team can handle tough competition.
How a team has performed during each win also must be taken into account. Using our five-game win streak example, let’s say that a team won all five of those games by a combined 10 points. That would signify that they barely picked up each of those five victories, where a consistently high margin of victory during that stretch would speak to a better run of form.
Consider the Matchups
Winning streaks are also not as important as the matchups that a team is set to face in upcoming games. A team could win 100 games in a row, but if their next game is against a team that they match up poorly against, the team on a winning streak could still be in danger of losing their next game. In football, personnel matchups are more important than they are in any other sport, whether there is a winning streak involved or not.
In a similar vein to personnel matchups, where each game is held is an important part of contextualizing winning streaks and what they mean. Home-field advantage can be palpable in football and can be the difference in tight games. If a team goes on a long winning streak at home, then has to go on the road, their winning streak could end.
All of this is to say that there is no one size fits all solution to betting on football games where teams with winning streaks are involved. Bettors must consider every angle and every facet of the game to make the best possible decisions, no matter how many consecutive games a team has won.