One of the tried and true gambling axioms was to always bet the home underdog to at least cover the spread and oftentimes win outright. That just isn’t the case anymore. Betting was less sophisticated, with less analytics and the computers weren’t anywhere near as precise as they are today.
Today you can plug in the effects of a team when the QB is up all night with his crying newborn. Every bit of data is thrown into a computer to come up with the best analysis possible to gain that slight edge. Back then the better team, whether at home or on the road, would get the lion’s share of the betting money, driving up the price. The savvy better would realize the home team plays a little harder in front of their home crowd, waking up in their own bed, and eating from their own kitchen table. So while the public at large was driving up the price, the brave few would cash in.
All of that data is now factored into the mix, and the lines are more reasonable, which is taking away some of the lofty home dog numbers, making those wagers less predictable. This season, home dogs are 15-20-2 against the spread.
This week there are six home dogs out of the 12-game slate:
Green Bay Packers @ Denver Broncos (+1.5)
The Packers aren’t exactly killing it at 2-3, but heading into Mile High against the woeful Broncos has put them as a 1.5-point favorite. For their part, since the absolutely embarrassing 50-point loss to the Dolphins, the Broncos have played better. They followed up that debacle with a win against the Bears and then scored 21 points against a staunch Jets defense. And last week they held the Chiefs to 19 points. The Dog is a nice play here.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Chicago Bears (+2.5)
The Bears were challenged with QB Justin Fields, but with him out and Tyson Bagent getting his first NFL start, they are a tough play here, even though the Raiders have their own QB issues. Jimmy Garoppolo has been ruled out with veteran Brian Hoyer stepping in. The Raiders defense is legit with the maniacal Maxx Crosby leading the way. With RB Josh Jacobs, and WRs Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers on offense, Brian Hoyer should have enough left in the tank to take care of business. And with Adams only being targeted nine times in the last two weeks, look for him to have a monster game.
Washington Commanders @ New York Giants (+2.5)
Similar to the Green Bay/Denver game, this game features a lousy home team and a mediocre road game. The Commanders are only sitting at 3-3 and over the last four weeks they have been blown out by the Bills, played a great game against the Eagles, got smoked by 20 points to the Bears, and then won last week against the Falcons. They seem to be a game-on, game-off, kind of team. This is their game-off week. Conversely, the Giants played an inspired game almost defeating the Bills. This is a divisional game which adds another layer, and at 1-5, this truly is the season for the Giants.
Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts (+3.5)
The two big questions in this game are, how big of a letdown will the Browns have after their eye-popping victory against the 49ers? And, will losing Anthony Richardson tank the Colts’ season? Will Gardner Minshew be a bust or boon as his replacement? For the year, Minshew has a better completion percentage, but Richardson has a better QB rating. They have each thrown three TDs but Richardson only threw one pick while Minshew has three interceptions. Still, it is hard to see the Browns being favored by 3.5 points against anyone.
San Fransisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings (+7)
The Vikings tend to play close games. They tend to keep games within one score, whether they win or lose. Last year they won them all, this year they are losing most of them. But in a game where they are getting seven points, that would almost ensure a Vikings cover. Add to that, Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey are each banged up, and may not play. Samuel didn’t practice on Friday and McCaffrey was only seen doing light workouts on the side.
There are a couple of reasons to love the Niners in this spot. First, they are coming off of an embarrassing and uninspiring loss in Cleveland. And second, it’s a Monday Night game, where Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is known to not play great. Seven points isn’t enough in this tilt. Look at it this way, even if the Niners win by eight they cover the spread, and the Vikings keep it a one-score game, which they are apt to do. That being said, this has the potential for a Niners blowout.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots (+8.5)
And speaking about blowouts. The Patriots are undermanned on the defensive side of the ball, which is their better side. Although they played better last week than the prior two weeks, they don’t have the weapons. Add a motivated Bills team that got a wake-up call last week against the Giants, and this has disaster written all over it. And, factor in an alarming stat that Mac Jones is 0-12 as an underdog. He has never even covered in a game where he was getting points. To cover, and keep it relatively close, they have to score some points. Last year they got a few, here and there from their defense. Short of that, it’s unlikely they can get to 20 points. And if their opponent gets to 25 points or more, they do not win. Realistically, the Bills will get to at least 27 points, (they are averaging 28.8), while the Patriots are only averaging 12 points. Even if the Pats can score 17 points, they won’t cover.