Let's face it. We all make mistakes and stubbornly don't like to admit when we're wrong. We fall into habits that become part of our routine. And people that like to bet on football are Type A. Often the worst thing that can happen is not when we lose, but rather when we WIN. That confirms that we were right and can proudly remind ourselves to do the same thing every time. And yes, not passing judgement . . . I have often become a temporary member of the club.
Two of the most common sports gambling caution options are actually born out of good human traits. The first is "root, root, root for the home team". For many gamblers it's unfathomable to bet against your home team or any home team where you're actually attending a game. We feel disloyal or putting some kind of jinx on the team by wagering against them. It can progress further when feeling guilty by profiting while betting against the home team. The best scenario sometimes is IF you bet against the home team favorite, they will still win but won't cover the spread.
Here's the facts Jack and the bad news. Home NFL favorites cover the spread approximately only 36% overall. Nevada sportsbooks, offshore sportsbooks, Delaware parlay cards and private wagering sources thank human loyalty as they will forever stand to profit. There is no doubt that as the players come and go the misconception that every NFL team has a home advantage toward winning will go on forever. That's why people paint their faces in the stands and scream as loud as possible in belief it enables their home team to win.
And maybe it does? Very good Packers teams have a definite advantage in a cheese-head filled Lambeau Field. The swirling winds often blow Steeler Nation's way at Heinz Field. But it certainly helps when Ben Roethlisberger is under center. And most home teams do get a lift from the home crowd whether good or bad. But for people wagering a much more crucial question is more important: Will the home team win AND COVER THE POINT SPREAD? And statistically, when they DO NOT, it's not always by winning the game but failing to cover. It's about 50%-50% by losing the game outright (no pointspread involved).
Conversely, this is not to say that you should gain an advantage by playing every Away team. It's similar to keeping meat in your diet for proper protein balance. It's essential for good nutrition, but three burgers a day, every day is going to kill you. And don't think the sportsbooks know "we love our burgers". Many of the top online sportsbooks including Bovada, BetOnine and GTBets will pad on an extra half point or full point to the home favorite if possible. With no reliable way to balance action and knowing the public's appetite to wager on home favorites, it's just sound business judgement.
Get to The Home Team EARLY
If you are indeed confident you want to wager strong home favorites, I have a strong suggestion for you. Get to the stadium as early as possible. In that I mean evaluating the opportunity to bet the game as soon as possible, often as the line is initially released. And on the short list keep in mind "the hot teams". Here are a few prime examples for this Sunday:
Nobody is hotter than the Seattle Seahawks. Within three weeks their Super Bowl future odds have dropped in half, from approximately +1500 to +736 at Diamond Sports and even lower to +600 at Bovada. This week they opened as a -14 favorite at home against the Cleveland Browns in Seattle, where rabid fans help break the sound barrier. They are already currently up to -15 at most preferred offshore sportsbooks and could go as high as -16 by kick-off time. Not making a prediction here either way but the odds are already challenging for a home cover, plus the weight of an additional full two points as well.
Equally on fire are the Pittsburgh Steelers, coming home after upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals on the road and breaking QB Andy Dalton's thumb. The Steelers opened as a -6 favorite over the Denver Broncos this Sunday but have moved to -6.5 quickly at all Nevada outlets and sportsbooks worldwide. With the controversy swirling whether to play Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning, an avalanche of loyal Steelers money, plus the game at home, will likely drive the line to a full -7 by game time.
It's Not Over While It's Under
Poor ritual # 2 for a bad NFL Sunday wagering diet is strictly betting teams OVER the Total. Or for that matter on Monday, Thursday and now NFL Saturday Night Football.
Admittedly, there is no worse feeling than having zero chance to win. And even down two scores at the two-minute warning, a bettor has some chance. An Aaron Rodgers "hail Mary" touchdown chance for example. But when wagering "under" and the game total officially going over, we must rip up the ticket and face immediate defeat.
Again, our wiser sportsbook gurus realize this as well and look to pad Total numbers wherever possible to their advantage. Combining the offensive friendly rules including generous pass interference, with the new rules to protect quarterbacks, has increased opportunities to score points. Has anybody seen many 37.5 Totals recently? Winter is a week away and the LOWEST total on the board this Sunday is 41 for the Cincinnati Bengals-San Francisco 49ers game. And that would probably be 45 if Andy Dalton's thumb was healthy.
But hold on there, not so fast. Last week of the 16 NFL games played an astonishing 12 went UNDER the Total. And many "feature games", where the sportsbook amount wagered can triple others, have seen results go Under this season. Again, not a recipe to isolate ALL games to wager under the Total. Merely discipline to realize that we have to accept a losing ticket before the final gun once in a while.
Last Sunday's Green Bay-Dallas game a "prime-time" example. The week's heaviest action play, the total of 43 was never threatened to go over. Even the 28-7 final was misleading as the Packers scored two TD's during the last 3 minutes of the game.
You could have easily cashed a network 2-team Under Parlay at night combining NBC Sunday Night Football. The Houston-New England game was listed at its lowest of 46 at popular sportsbook BetOnline. The Texans were shut out in the second half during a 27-6 loss to the Patriots.
**Beware a big change is in the air shortly. Ol' man Winter is on its way next week bringing unpredictable swings in Over/Under Totals and results. You could just as well hold a guaranteed winner on a low total going over at halftime or then again be stuck with a guaranteed loser during a swirling wind storm at most outdoor NFL stadiums.
Either way, a steady regimen of strictly Home Team Favorites plus Over the Total can be extremely dangerous to your overall wagering health. I suggest exercising discipline carefully selecting your spots. And of course, a smart balanced home & away, over & under diet for a longer, bettor life.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding NFL previews and picks from Glenn, click here.