Has home field advantage disappeared in the NFL?
It sure feels that way. And, it’s been mathematically true six weeks into the 2019 season. If you throw out the two neutral site games in England, road teams went 49-39 straight up.
At that volume, composite scoring sums represent “the league against itself.” Through the completion of Week Six (88 games), the average result had been the road team winning by 1.36 points.
So, home field advantage hasn’t been worth the standard three points. Nor has it dropped to just two or two-and-a-half points. It grades out as a home field “disadvantage!”
You avid fans are probably already thinking about the Miami Dolphins. They got crushed in their first two home games by scores of 59-10 and 43-0. Did those monster margins warp the math to create an illusion?
Not as much as you might think. Sure, in the first two weeks, 49 and 43 points wins for visitors loomed large over the sample size. That’s less of an issue through 88 games. If you throw all Miami matchups, and just look at the other 31 teams facing each other, the average result is still a 0.4-point win for the visitor. Road teams are 45-38 straight up in games that don’t involve Miami.
Those ’19 numbers aren’t a surprise if you’re the type of bettor that loves home favorites. You’ve taken a bath this season. According to covers.com, home favorites are 20-41-1 against the spread. Will you finally take VSiN’s advice and stop betting so many home favorites ATS, in money line parlays, and in teasers before your bankroll flows completely down the drain?!
Luckily, many of you are the type to ride your favorite team when they’re playing well. The New Orleans Saints head into Sunday’s game in Chicago against the Bears (FOX, 3:35 p.m.) on a four-game pointspread cover streak. Two of those were outright wins as road underdogs (at Seattle, at Jacksonville). The Saints also busted the leaguewide home favorite trend with a seven-point win over Tampa Bay laying just three.
Of course, if you’re winning with the Saints, but losing your other straight bets, parlays, and teasers backing home favorites…you need to pay attention to this developing dynamic involving home field value. Remember that we’re dealing with two different factors under the same umbrella…
▪ Home teams are performing worse straight up than expected. This would still be really weird even if pointspreads weren’t involved.
▪ Betting markets have been slow to react to this surprisingly enduring development.
Last week, New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh all won outright as road underdogs, with Cincinnati and Detroit covering their spreads in losses (Detroit was robbed!).
VSiN will continue to monitor the math throughout the season
▪ There’s been a very clear betting dynamic through the week in Saints/Bears. When the game sits right on Chicago -3, the majority of money comes in on the rested home favorite in a bounce back spot. You’ll recall the Bears were shocked by the Raiders in London two weeks ago. They had a lot of time to think about it!
But, any store lifting its line to Chicago -3.5 sees Saints money come in hard. Three is a common final victory margin. And, New Orleans has been playing conservative but effective football since Teddy Bridgewater became a starter.
This is expected to be a low-scoring battle given the Over/Under of 38 (which could change by kickoff depending on weather forecasts). Every half point matters when betting defensive struggles.
▪ It’s a relatively quiet week in the NFC South, with Carolina and Tampa Bay both enjoying byes after playing each other in England last Sunday. Atlanta will likely close as a three-point home underdog to the Los Angeles Rams in a battle of slumping teams. The Falcons are 1-5 straight up and ATS, and might have to consider tanking for draft position.
▪ For baseball bettors, the World Series begins Tuesday night (FOX, 7 p.m.). National League champion Washington will have its staff rested and ready after a long layoff. Analytics types have been adamant since early in the postseason that MLB had switched from its “aerodynamically friendly” baseballs used in a very high scoring regular season back to the old design. The lack of carry greatly helped the strong frontline pitching of the Nationals, whose starters dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
n Also Tuesday night, the 2019-20 NBA season tips off with the New Orleans Pelicans in the very first game! New Orleans visits defending world champion Toronto (TNT, 7 p.m.) followed by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers facing Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers (TNT, 9:30 p.m.).
The Clippers and Lakers currently top futures boards to win this year’s league title. At the Westgate in Las Vegas, the Clippers are 7/2, the Lakers 4/1. Just behind are Milwaukee 6/1, Philadelphia 8/1, and Houston 8/1. Young and rebuilding New Orleans is 100/1, priced as a borderline threat to reach the playoffs in the deep and dangerous Western Conference.
Be sure you tune into VSiN on Sirius XM 204, or watch our livestream at vsin.com for game-day coverage throughout the World Series and the coming NBA season.