NFL games have been rescheduled a lot this year, with several blockbuster matchups scheduled for Halloween and Thanksgiving—including the annual Bills-Texans showdown. But now that the season is over, one of the most anticipated games of the year has been postponed. Why? The line in the sportsbooks has been moved. For the first time ever, the over-under for the Buffalo-Houston game had been set at 42.5—a near-even score. Was it rigged? Who knows. But the game was obviously more competitive than expected. And after the Bills’ upset victory, the line moved in their favor. Naturally, bettors didn’t like that, and the over-under for next season’s game moved in the other direction.
A Changed Mindset
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was the Rams’ decision to fire head coach Sean McVay after just one season. Many people were questioning whether or not he was the right fit for the team. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Rams decided to promote assistant coach Matt LaFleur to head coach. Since then, he’s led the team to an 8-2 record, including a playoff win over the Saints in Week 17. And it’s given birth to one of the most competitive and entertaining rivalries in the NFL.
This year’s Bills-Rams matchup is one of the most anticipated games of the season. Unfortunately, it won’t be played this year due to the pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped people from talking about it. Before the season began, oddsmakers had set the over-under on the season series at 47.5 points. Since then, as the Bills and Rams have become more competitive, the over-under has gotten shorter and shorter. Today, it’s been set at 42.5. Is this just a fluke, or is this a sign of things to come? We’ll have to wait and see.
The Economics Of The Rescheduled Games
Another important consideration is the economics of the rescheduled games. In the past, teams would try to schedule as many home games as possible during the season to maximize revenue. But with the new collective bargaining agreement, clubs are allowed to schedule only eight home games per season. Naturally, that means teams are forced to scramble for the best dates. That often results in games being moved to different timeslots or even to another stadium.
For example, the Colts played the Texans on October 28th last year. But since that was a Saturday, they had to play the following week on November 4th. That was two weeks later and in a different time slot, which meant fewer people could see the game. And although both teams agreed to play in Toronto, the league office made the decision that the game would be played in Toronto because that’s where the Bills are based. So even when the economy would normally allow the two teams to play in their home stadium, they had to move the game. That’s the type of thing that makes players and coaches question the league’s integrity.
More Competitive Than Expected
In addition to moving the line in their favor, the Bills also surprised everyone this year by reaching the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Last week, they upset the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Jets 16-15 in overtime. This week, they’ll take on the Houston Texans in the Divisional round, looking to advance to the Conference Championship for the first time since 1999.
Although the game wasn’t picked up by CBS this year, it’ll be televised on Saturday, January 19th. And with a 7-6-1 ATS record, the over-under has already been moved in favor of the home team, the Texans. And that, my friends, is just the beginning. The entire league is suddenly a lot more competitive this year.