One of the oldest rules of thumb in NFL betting is to go with the underdogs, especially when they’re at home. That rule has been golden so far in 2012. Check out the NFL betting trends as we head into Week 6 and see for yourself.
Who Let the Dogs Out?
This surely won’t last – will
it? We can only hope, because heading into Sunday night’s NFL action, underdogs
were 31-44 SU and 44-29-2 ATS, or 60.3 percent. Holy mackinaw. And it gets
better: Home dogs were 15-13 SU and 17-11 ATS, or 60.7 percent. Most
handicappers would give their left ventricle to hit 60 percent of their NFL picks.
Blame the Refs
Remember those loveable
replacement officials? There was the guy from the Lingerie Football League, and
the guy who was a New Orleans Saints fan… there was even a woman. What? Surely Roger Goodell could have found another able-bodied
American male to do the job. There’s over two million of them in prison.
After the regular officials
were finally signed up, the talk around the water cooler was that the home dogs
would stop barking. It makes logical sense – many of those blown calls were
made by replacement refs who seemed like they were worried about getting
attacked outside the stadium.
That theory played out quite
nicely in Week 4. Home dogs went just 1-4 SU and ATS, with the St. Louis Rams
(+2) avoiding the sweep in a 19-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Then the
Rams (+1) did it again in Thursday night’s 17-3 upset of the Arizona Cardinals.
Take that, NFC West.
The rest of the Week 5 home
dogs were 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS with one more still to play: the New York Jets
(+8) versus the Houston Texans on Monday
Night Football. The Jets were 3.5-point home dogs last week when they got
steamrolled 34-0 by the San Francisco 49ers. So much for being trendy.
Under the Rainbow
The other big takeway from the
early-season trends is how well the books have balanced themselves against the
total. Heading into Sunday night, the UNDER had a slight 38-36 advantage, or
51.4 percent. That’s below the 52.4 percent success rate a handicapper needs to
break even when betting the standard $110 to win $100. By the way, the UNDER
was ahead 31-30 after Week 4. Clearly the bookmakers are on their game so far.
Of course the sportsbooks have done
well with their totals. They’re so much easier to put up on the board than
point spreads are. It doesn’t matter which of the two teams scores, for one
thing. And the betting public can generally be counted on to overplay the OVER.
People tend to bet on outcomes they want to see, and everyone loves scoring.
Even Jets fans.
Don’t Trend on Me
I’ve always found betting
trends to be a mixed blessing as a handicapper. It’s way too easy to look back
and cherry-pick an interesting betting pattern; for example, the OVER is 5-0 in
the last five Jets games in Week 5. What does that say about this Monday night?
However, it’s a different
story when you’re dealing with league-wide trends. The sample size is much
bigger, and sample size is always an issue in the NFL with its 16-game (for
now) regular season. The trends I’ve quoted above are also very basic in their
scope, looking only at home/away and favorite/underdog splits, as well as the
This is much more reliable information than some
“trend” about who has played well on grass on Thursday nights. So use it to
your advantage when making your NFL picks