The two primary types of analysis in which handicappers engage is technical team analysis and situational analysis. The first focuses on the way that the teams are playing that season -- their yards/attempt stats, advanced metrics like DVOA, the quality of their special teams play, etc. (some call this "technical analysis"). The latter focuses on the two teams' situations -- how they match-up against the opposing team historically, how they do when coming off of a brutal loss, heading for a back-to-back road game, traveling from east to west coast, etc. Most good handicappers seem to focus on a blend between the two. This blog also tries to take both types of analysis into account, although obviously time limitations preclude me from being too sophisticated in the mathematical underpinnings of my technical analysis.
I write about this topic now because one game this weekend starkly demonstrates the clash between these two theories of game prediction: Colts @ Eagles. Many of the key stats and match-ups favor the resurgent Colts, and the Peyton Manning-led Colts have traditionally dominated Andy Reid's Eagles. But then there's this shocking stat: Andy Reid has won all 12 of the post-bye week games that he's coached, many by significant margins. It's true that when you parse the numbers of the teams that he's played, their records don't overwhelm. But that stat is impressive nonetheless, impressive enough to singlehandedly convince some prognosticators, like Bill Simmons, to pick the Eagles this week.
Colts +3 looked good to me initially, but the Andy Reid bye week stat caused me to back off and focus instead on the Packers/Boys. BadNFL will be following the game closely to see how the teams play and how the general media covers the interaction between the X's and O's and the overwhelming history of bye week success that surround this game. Perhaps we can learn something.