Trends in sports are very fun–it brings math into the equation a bit. It also makes betting apples a lot easier.
One of the more interesting trends this year has been how home underdogs have played this year. Overall, home dogs are 23-16 against the spread (a very good advantage for apple betters), but the interesting nature of home dogs’ success goes even further.
When replacement refs were tainting the league, the advantage was even bigger with 13 of the 19 home dogs covering. Since then, however, the script has been flipped with road favorites covering in 10 of the 18 games. Historically, home teams get more close calls than road teams, and the problem could very easily exacerbated by uncertain replacement refs playing to the home crowd. (For a more detailed explanation and proof of this, get the book Scorecasting, or read this quick explanation of ref bias in home field advantage. I highly recommend the book.)
If we take another look at how home underdogs have played, there has been another key way of seeing the betting advantage. We’ll look at four different categories of spreads: small dog (0.5 to 1.5 points), field goal dog (2.5 to 3.5 points), Vegas Zone (4.5 to 5.5 points), and big dog (6.5 to 8 points).
Small dogs: 2-5
Field goal dogs: 11-7
Vegas Zone: 4-2
Big dogs: 4-2
It’s a small sample size, but the bigger the spread is, the better the home dogs have performed. This isn’t a law, but it might be the beginning of an interesting trend. Now go wager your apples wisely! …Not that I encourage that behavior.
Without further ado, here are my Week 8 picks; home teams in CAPS.
Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:
Seahawks (+2) over LIONS
Remember when we thought the Lions were good again? Right.
COWBOYS (+2.5) over Giants
Read the section above.
Saints (+6.5) over BRONCOS
The Broncos beat the Chargers last week because Philip Rivers coughed up the ball six times. The Saints may not win, but Drew Brees will not turn over the ball like that.
PACKERS (-16.5) over Jaguars
I hate huge lines like this. Of course, the Packers are going to win, but are they going to crush the timid Jaguars by 17? I had the same dilemma yesterday when a friend asked me if I thought #1 Alabama would cover their 22.5 point line over #11 Mississippi State. I didn’t put any apples on that game, but the Crimson Tide rolled on for a 38-7 win. So I’m going with the Packers.
Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:
Colts (+3.5) over TITANS
Andrew Luck continues to impress, averaging 279 passing yards per game, plus an extra 19 rushing yards per game. He’s also taken a team that went 1-15 last year to already triple it’s win total. It’s stating the obvious, but it needs to be stated: he’s going big places.
Buccaneers (+5.5) over VIKINGS
When both teams are very boring and unimpressive, just take the points. Plus I love Josh Freeman.
JETS (-2.5) over Dolphins
If the Jets want a shot at the playoffs, they need to beat the Dolphins at home. There’s no way around it.
BEARS (-7.5) over Panthers
The Panthers defense was bad enough before Jon Beason was placed on the IR. The Panthers offensive line was bad enough before Ryan Kalil was placed on the IR. This has gone from a Season of Hope to a Season of Nope pretty quickly.
Niners (-7) over CARDINALS
The Niners couldn’t cover an eight point spread last week against the Seahawks. I’m going to use some highly advanced math, but a seven point spread is less than an eight point spread, and the Cardinals are worse than the Seahawks. I’m going with the Niners here.
KFC Double Down Games:
STEELERS (-4.5) over Redskins
Washington is last in the league in pass defense, and Pittsburgh is 6th in passing. Sounds promising. Pittsburgh is 2nd in the league in pass defense, and Washington is 20th in passing. Sounds very promising.
Chargers (-3) over BROWNS
No matter how bad the Chargers were in the second half last week, at least he isn’t Brandon Weeden.
Falcons (+3) over EAGLES
How exactly are the undefeated Falcons not favored? And why do people think Michael Vick is still elite?
Raiders (+1) over CHIEFS
I get to pick against Brady Quinn AND get points? This is nothing short of a miracle, usually I have to pick one or the other.
Drink Cheerwine Lock o’ the Week:
Patriots (-7) over RAMS
Whoever doesn’t root for the Patriots in London is just Un-American. USA! USA! USA! USA!
Overall record: 45-56-2
Last week: 7-5
Apple Total: -100
Apple Total Last Week: 60