NFL betting: What impact will COVID-19 have?

Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has influenced just about every walk of life for everyone, and the NFL certainly isn’t any exception. This season will be unlike any other, and that’s an understatement. Certain teams will be affected more than others, but there will be a betting impact league-wide. Below we’ll be breaking down the fallout from the changes, and how it should shape your wagering.

Offensive communication

Seeing quarterbacks frantically waving their arms and barking orders to offensive linemen as the play clock runs down has become a staple, but we won’t be seeing much of that this year. With no deafening crowd noise, quarterbacks won’t have to worry too much about things like snap counts or hand signals. Everyone will be able to communicate much better, which should theoretically help offenses. It could be particularly helpful for teams with young quarterbacks, as they’re much more likely to struggle with the silent counts. We should also see less delay of game penalties and things of that nature, which often stem from confusion as the quarterback is desperately trying to audible.

Reduced practice time

While offenses should benefit from the lack of crowd noise, they could be harmed by the lack of practice time. There were no OTAs or minicamps, and training camps have been heavily abridged. There’s never been anything like this where teams have had such little time to gel together, and the impact could be severe. So much of teams’ passing games and pass blocking are about chemistry, which should be hindered early on. As such we could see a situation where offenses struggle out of the gate before improving as the weeks go on and their chemistry improves. Teams with rookie quarterbacks, new quarterbacks, or new coaching staff could be especially hurt since offseasons are so important for them to all get on the same page.

No home-field advantage

This will likely be the biggest impact of all. Home-field advantage in the NFL is so important that it is often worth at least three points to the point spread. For certain teams like the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Saints that draw truly insane crowds, it’s even more. NFL stadiums are usually electric for things like primetime games, and some of those teams could be fazed by the relative silence. Things like travel and sleep have become so standardized in recent years that pretty much the only thing left for home-field advantage was the environment. The highly unusual circumstances could benefit teams like the Chargers, who haven’t had any sort of home-field advantage to rely on in recent years. 

Defensive motivation

While offenses might lack chemistry early on, defenses could lack fire. Football is such a physical game, especially on defense, that it requires a lot of emotional juice. Defenses usually thrive off the crowd energy, whether at home or on the road, and this experience will be completely foreign to them. With nothing to fire them up it might be difficult for them to get up and get dirty. The teams that are naturally the grittiest and with the best locker room leaders on defense will have an advantage.

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