Handicapping strategies, across all sports, come in a variety of forms. As they pertain to National Football League wagering, betting home underdogs is a format that many NFL bettors love to jump on. However, like all strategies, backing pups based solely due to the fact that they are on their home turf should not be followed blindly. Let’s take a look at factors involved when betting home dogs.
Home Underdog Betting Can Boast a Bankroll
When backing home dogs Cappers are reminded that homers are pups for many reasons. Above all, clubs receiving points at home are usually squads that are struggling. Beyond that, bettors also need to consider the opponent, as a decent team may be tagged as home dogs due to the visitor being the superior squad. Other key factors include the current form the teams, time of the match, how far the visitor has travelled, plus significant injuries and the importance of the match. While it’s a lot to take in, with proper research, key factors can be easily be uncovered.
Facts matter and current records are a good place to start when trying to determine if home dog NFL betting lines are worth a wager. Teams well above .500 in the standings are rarely pups and no squad is a better example than New England. Including the first seven weeks of the 2018 NFL season, the Patriots were dogs at Gillette Stadium just twice over an eleven-season span. Both of those contests were in 2014 and New England won outright as +2.5 pups with a 2-2 record versus Cincinnati (43-17) and as +1 dogs with a 6-2 record vs Denver (43-21) in Week 9.
“Beware of backing NFL squads that post losing records on a consistent basis”
On the other side of the coin, teams wallowing through a season with a losing record will often be tagged as home pups. Cleveland, who posted a combined 1-31 record during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, offer the best example here. During their 16 home matches over that span, the Browns were home pups 15 times – with the lone exception being a battle against the New York Jets when Cleveland as -1.5 chalk during Week 5 in 2017. Of the 15 contests, when they were dogs, Cleveland posted a 3-11-1 ATS record and the Browns were a dismal 1-15 straight up.
NFL History Offers Helpful Home Pup Betting Insight
Though NFL teams change their personnel regularly, from players to coaches, some clubs perform better in the home underdog role than others. While we don’t advise betting blindly on any team as underdogs, for or against, our table below shows which teams were good and bad in the pup role over a ten-year span. Although it's a small sample size, New England went a perfect 2-0 as home pups. With extra data to draw from, Atlanta, NY Jets, Cincinnati and Indianapolis round out the top five squads that returned the most wins as pups from 2008 through 2017.
Please Note: Home underdog records, Against The Spread and Straight Up, are from 2008 through the 2017 NFL season. Numbers in brackets indicate win percentage as home pups ATS.
|NFL Home Dog Win %||ATS W||ATS L||ATS P||SU W||SU L||SU P|
|New England (1.000)||2||0||0||2||0||0|
|NY Jets (.667)||20||10||0||13||17||0|
|New Orleans (.625)||5||3||0||4||4||0|
|Kansas City (.533)||16||14||0||10||20||0|
|San Francisco (.483)||14||14||1||10||19||0|
|NY Giants (.476)||10||11||0||5||16||0|
|LA Rams (.449)||22||25||2||15||34||0|
|LA Chargers (.368)||7||12||0||6||13||0|
|Green Bay (.333)||4||7||1||4||8||0|
|Tampa Bay (.308)||12||26||1||8||31||0|
At the other end of the spectrum, some teams have proven to be downright dismal in the role of home underdogs. Tampa Bay leads the way as the Bucs covered just 12 of the 39 games they played at Raymond James Stadium during the decade we researched. Some other interesting observations include the Dallas Cowboys ranking 14th with an 8-7-1 mark as pups against the spread but last overall with a 3-13 straight up record as dogs. Arizona was an outstanding home pup as they won 20 of their 32 contests, ATS and SU, at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“No matter the sport – Never blindly bet on teams from one year to the next”
Another example of not betting home teams blindly, as favorites or underdogs, can found during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Back in 2007, Detroit was a respectable 5-3 at Ford Field and outscored their opponents by a 212-168 count while going 2-2-1 as dogs ATS. The following year, with many of the same players, and playing in the same stadium, the Motor City Cats went 0-8 straight up and 1-7-0 as home underdogs, as they were outscored by a 116- 292 combined final count. The Lions lone cover in 2008 was a 20-16 loss to Minnesota as -10.5 point pups.
Other factors to consider when backing home pups include the time of year and stadiums where matches are played. A squad with a solid record that plays in a warm weather location, or at a covered stadium, may fall to a underdog at an outdoor stadium once winter rolls around. The Eagles 2018 NFC Championship win, in wintery weather as +3.5 pups at home over dome team Minnesota, is a classic example. Denver posting a 13-10 record, as ATS dogs from 2009 to 2017, in Mile High Stadium thin air is also proof of how venues can play a role in home pup betting.
Home Underdog Betting is Available on All Major Sports
Beyond the NFL, handicappers can bet on home pups during other popular pro and college sports. That said, some leagues are better than others when backing home underdogs. NCAA football and basketball, plus the NBA, are sports that generally should be avoided, as home field/court advantage is strong in those leagues. CFL, NHL and MLB bettors can normally find solid home pups when those sports play out as the advantage of playing at home is not as prevalent in those contests. No matter how you bet – wager at these top ranked sportsbooks…