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Sandwich Game Theory

Over the course of a long and punishing season, even the most talented teams in the league have off-games. In a perfect world, every game would have every player playing at 100 percent, but that just isn’t realistic.

Some games will see a team feeling fresh, confident, energetic and ready to play at a high level. In other games, the emotional and physical toll of a long season will show on the field or court, making a team look sluggish and unfocused.

Every week we see teams inexplicably play way above or below their potential, much to our joy when we are on the right side of those instances and much to our dismay when we are on the wrong side. In many cases, it is hard to predict when a team is going to play one of these out-of-character games, but one angle to consider is the Sandwich Game Theory.

What is a Sandwich Game?

A “sandwich game” is a seemingly inconspicuous game sandwiched between two very important or very difficult games. For example, this season, the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to make some strides in the AFC West but they have a potential sandwich or "trap" game very early in their schedule. The Chiefs start on the road against two Super Bowl contenders: the Chargers and the Steelers. They then return home for a game vs San Francisco before heading to Denver to play the rival Broncos. 

While not much is expected out of the 49ers this season, they could be very dangerous to Kansas City in Week 3. After two hard-hitting, high-level games vs LA and Pittsburgh on the road to start the season, Kansas City returns home to their families, children, bills and real life for just one week before heading out on the road again. 

Think about it from your perspective. If you were travelling for two weeks and came home for just a few days, think about all the things you have to deal with. On top of that, the hype that comes with a team's home opener can also lead to an emotional letdown on the field. This is the exact definition and fear when it comes to a sandwich game and it may affect the Chiefs on the point spread.

When you see a situation such as this one, when a team has a non-division opponent in between two big games, give them a strong look. You will likely catch the team in its sandwich game playing something less than its best.