In Week 14, I cautioned people not to fall victim to the "must-win." Often, value can be found betting against the team perceived to be in a must-win situation.
There were five games that I recognized as falling under that umbrella, and betting against those teams would have resulted in average closing value of 1.4 points per game and a 3-2 record against the spread. Not too bad.
I'm going to keep with the theme in Week 15, leading up to weeks 16 and 17, the most prominent time each season to find value in these must-win spots. In fact, since 1990, betting against teams that would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss in Weeks 16 and 17 has yielded a 63% win rate. I'm not going to sit here and guarantee winners, but that speaks to the overvaluation of these teams in the marketplace historically. Here are the games that I will refer to as must-wins in Week 15:
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5, 40) at Washington Redskins
This point spread was Eagles -6 at some books before Philadelphia kicked off Monday Night Football and salvaged an ugly, come-from-behind victory over the lowly Giants. The Eagles' performance on national television didn't help our cause now that oddsmakers reopened the game a point-and-a-half lower.