Looking at ‘close’ games, where the home team is favored between 1-5.5 points against the spread, there have been 333 games over 4 years (2008-11) and the ROAD team has covered over 54% of the time, more than often enough to beat VIG and turn a 1.5-2% profit margin on top of that (strong margin for a sports gambler).
Why? It use to be that betting small home favourites were good value in the NFL due to home field advantage. But with instant replay negating the referees homer bias and technology improving travelling, home field advantage is shrinking. Teams going on the road use to deal with hostile crowds, crummy travel conditions, and worst of all, referees cheering for the home team (often looking similar to Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun). This is no longer the case.
Few crowds are super loud and hostile (even Seattle, which is, recently hired undercover cops dressed in opposing team gear to ensure all fans are treated with respect). Travelling is a pleasure – cushy 1st class airline seats, 5 star hotels, chefs travelling with teams – better then the headaches of young children at home. The affect of instant reply is probably the biggest difference maker. Zebras use to go out of there way to give the home team every edge possible, but that is getting tough. Instant replay ensures big calls must be correct (or overturned) and the mere existence of it ensure referees attempt to stay honest. Add it all up and going on the road in the NFL is not as daunting as it use to be.
VALUE TO THE SHARP EDGE BETTOR – home teams are usually given 3 pts in pick’em or close games, just for being at home. That appears to be too high in the current NFL. Therefore, the value is leaning towards the road teams in close matchups as home teams are overvalued by Las Vegas sportsbooks.
need a refresher on the terms? See our glossary of terms.
need a refresher on the odds and how they work? See explaining the odds.