NFL Betting Advice: Home Underdogs
by Darin Zank - 10/7/2011
Home underdogs have long been popular NFL picks among bettors both sharp and not-so-sharp. Home-field advantage may not be as big a factor as it's sometimes made out to be, but home teams do win most games. And the idea of getting points with a home team is often appealing.
But theory and reality are often two very different things. This leaves us wondering whether home dogs, on the whole, are a profitable proposition, or if that's just a myth.
The Track Records
So far this season NFL home dogs are 11-15 straight-up and 14-10-1 against the NFL point spread. Last week home dogs went 3-4 ATS, and that was their first losing weekend of this season. In both Weeks 1 and 2 they went 3-2 ATS, and in Week 3 home dogs went 5-2-1 ATS.
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Last year home underdogs won 30 of 85 games SU, and compiled a 42-39 ATS mark. But that ATS record doesn't win any money when the juice is factored in.
In fact, over the course of the last seven NFL seasons, home dogs have had just one moneymaking season. That was 2006, when home underdogs went 43-33 ATS. But in 2009 they went 43-44 ATS; in '08, they were 33-43 ATS; in '07, 43-47; in '05, 29-46; and in 2004 home dogs went 39-41 ATS.
Add it up and NFL home underdogs are just 272-293 ATS from 2004-'10, which is a 48 percent success rate. This doesn't get anybody anywhere, except maybe the poorhouse.
Maybe the Moneyline
It's difficult to be selective with home dogs. Like last week, for example. Were the Jaguars getting nine points from visiting New Orleans the better bet than the Bengals at +3 vs. visiting Buffalo? Obviously not, but we couldn't tell until after the games were in the books. However, one of those home dogs won its game outright. So maybe playing home dogs on the moneyline is the way to go.
With the moneyline we're forgoing the pointspread and instead backing a team to win outright, getting an underdog price. Had we taken the Jags and Bengals with the point spreads last week we would have lost the juice in going 1-1. But on the moneyline we would have made a little something, with Cincy getting +130. Now, home dogs are not going to win 50 percent of their games straight-up. But then again, they're not always going to get just +130 on the moneyline. One winning home dog at +200 on the moneyline makes up for two losers, and one winner at +250 turns a profit vs. those two losers.
Already this season Tennessee beat Baltimore as a +210 moneyline home dog, and Buffalo upset New England getting +270. And there was a couple of big close calls, like the Colts losing to the Steelers by a field goal at the buzzer getting +475, and Seattle losing by two points to Atlanta getting +220. Down the line there are going to be some significant upsets on the moneyline. The trick is to be down with it before it happens.
This Weeks' Dogs
For Week 5 in the NFL, oddsmakers are offering up four home underdogs for our betting consideration. Bookmaker is listing the 3-1 Bills at +3 at home vs. the 1-3 Eagles; Cam Newton and the Panthers are getting 6.5 points at home vs. Drew Brees and the Saints; Denver is getting 3.5 points at home from divisional-rival San Diego; and Atlanta is +6 at home vs. Green Bay. Buffalo is also getting +120 on the Bookmaker NFL moneyline, Carolina +235, the Broncos +165 and the Falcons +220.
NFL Home Dog Picks
We could see any of the four home dogs on this week's board pulling upsets. Philadelphia is a puzzle, while Buffalo is dangerous; Carolina is going to beat somebody important this year; San Diego is banged up on offense, and Denver is still a tough place to play; and Atlanta has revenge on its mind. So we'll take those four dogs on the moneylines. If we go 2-2 we'll make money.
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