It was always going to happen, wasn’t it? I bang on about not needing the points when backing underdogs and of course the Giants lose on a last-second field goal but cover the spread. Classic stuff.
Of course, the point remains that long-term the moneyline is the more profitable proposition.
I had a relatively rough NFL week, capped by losing the Redskins +7 and the Under on a meaningless fumble return for a touchdown. The bright spot was I had under 49 before the line dropped to 47.5, so got a push on that part of the bet. I guess those kinds of things add up when it comes to the final tally at the end of the season.
Anyway, moving onto week five, and I think there might be some edges to be wangled from home field advantages. A lot of people simply ascribe 3 points to the home team in the NFL, while the more statistically-savvy like Massey Peabody opt for 2.5 points, which I think is a better baseline. On a side note, a recent study found that home teams in the NBA won 68% of their games in 1988, dropping to 60% for most of the 2000s, and dropping all the way down to 57% last year.
The reason, according to an ESPN article is Tinder, as players spend less time going out to nightclubs while on road trips to pick up women, and instead swipe in sobriety from their hotel room. Playing without a hangover does wonders for the performance apparently.
That rationale does not necessarily translate to the NFL, where players spend less time on the road, but it’s still fair to say more time and effort goes into mitigating the negatives of road tripping than ever before.
And some NFL teams, in particular, have especially small home field advantages (HFA), probably due to a lack of fan noise, which means referees aren’t as likely to give those ‘homecooked’ decisions which account for a huge part of HFA. This week I want to focus on two teams with particularly poor HFAs, which I think we can use to our benefit.
The LA Chargers as you’ll all know are playing in a soccer stadium in front of 27,000 fans, the majority of which are cheering for the other team anyway.
One NFL reporter tweeted last week he had arrived in LA for the Eagles/Chargers game and the first 5 people he’d spoken to had no idea who the Chargers were playing.
As expected, the crowd was largely pro Eagle, and the Chargers lost their third straight home game. As a result, the oddsmakers are (naturally) rating them as having lost three straight home games, which simply hasn’t been the case.
As a result, there could be some real value all season in backing the Chargers on the road where they will be gifted rather than docked those 2.5 points. And New York is a good place for us to start with this theory. The Giants home field ranks 22nd in the NFL, per BIll Barnwell’s research, with an observed HFA of 2 points.
That means the Giants are 1.5 points better than the Chargers based on the current handicap of 3.5. That’s not true per Football Outsiders, which has LA rated better, it’s not true per ESPN’s FPi and it’s not true in terms of yards-per-play differential.
With the way these two teams have played close games all season, the 3.5 looks to be a valuable bonus with the Chargers, and of course, take the moneyline which is around +170 as well.
My second bet this week is not necessarily supported fully by the numbers. A couple of models I look at have this pegged right around -7 so maybe a point of value, but I think this is a nightmare matchup for Arizona who refuses to stop throwing deep despite the fact they clearly can’t pass protect. They go up against the Eagles who boast the second-best adjusted sack rate in the league behind only the Von Miller-led Denver Broncos.
The Cardinals of course have to come across the country again for a 1 pm start (10 am on their body clocks) and it’s fair to say they have been entirely underwhelming this season.
Their two wins are in overtime against two of the worst team in the league, Indianapolis, and San Francisco, while their losses were by double digits to the Cowboys and the Lions. The Eagles meanwhile have found a run game to go along with Carson Wentz, averaging 173 rush yards over their last three games.
And their offensive line is set up to dominate the Cardinals front who lost arguably their pass rusher Markus Golden last week, after losing Calais Campbell in the offseason.
The Eagles offensive line last week held the much ballyhooed Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa to zero sacks, and you can expect Carson Wentz to have a lot of time to throw downfield.
Of course, the Eagles have to turn around to play on Thursday night, so it’s a relatively tricky scheduling spot, but they match up well with the Cardinals and should cruise to a comfortable win.