When I was developing Qoxhi Picks during the 1970’s, I spent hours at the library on the Cal Berkeley campus pouring through microfiche researching past point spreads and results. Information I could get today with ease over the internet.
In any case, that study found that teams that were at home getting points were a real good point spread play. In fact, between 1970 and 1980, teams listed as home team underdogs won games straight-up 34% of the time, but the points added 22% to their bottom line, making them a revenue generating 56% winners. For those of you keeping score at home, if all bets were equal and a standard 10% vig was applied, the break even wagering point is 52.3% winners.
In those days, there were a lot of articles in handicapping publications that had “systems” to break your bookie. Many of them were filled with trends for home teams, road teams, division games and contests played after a win or loss that ended with the recommendation that you take a particular team fitting their criteria when they were getting points at home.
Few of those strategies actually produced winning results that did better than just betting on home team underdogs.
While 34% of the home underdogs won straight up from 1970 to 1980, in the most recent ten seasons, beginning in 2010, home team underdogs are winning at a slightly higher clip, 36%. So, if more home team underdogs are winning games straight-up, what do you think happened with the 56% winning margin when adding the points allotted on the spread?
In fact, while straight-up winners have risen, home team underdogs against the spread since 2010 are 452-443-31, or 51% winners.
Do we need a more stark example of why trying to beat the books is a losing proposition, and winning with them is a much better way to build your own bankroll? Once the public was onto wagering on home underdogs, the books adjusted the lines just enough to erase that advantage.
That is not to say home team underdogs do not on occasion provide excellent wagering opportunities, they just now need to own other advantages to enhance their winning prospects.
We can consider whether an advantage is available tonight with a home team underdog when the New York Giants are getting 12½ points at MetLife Stadium for their Monday Night Football meeting against Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Before you rush this way or that way on tonight’s game, consider this; since 2018 the New York Giants have been underdogs at MetLife Stadium 13 times and have won only one of those games straight up … and only one against the point spread. In other words, the points given the Giants at home have not come into play for the past three seasons. That includes a pair of games this season, their opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, also on a Monday night, that they lost by 10 points while getting six on the spread. In third week action, the Giants got three points on the spread and lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 36-9.
So, take the Bucs tonight and expect a runaway win?
After the Buccaneers had a three game losing streak snapped in primetime by the Chicago Bears three weeks ago, they responded with blowout victories. In Week Six, they beat the Green Bay Packers, 38-10, and last Sunday got a road triumph over the Las Vegas Raiders, 45-20. Next week, the Buccaneers have a second bite of the apple in a rematch against Drew Brees and the New Orleans in the Sunday night game. Brady lost his first start with the Bucs on opening day in New Orleans, 34-23, and should be primed for a big effort in the rematch.
Which means this.
Do we want to take a chance on the Bucs covering a double-digit road point spread after two big wins over quality opponents and with a showdown against their division leaders next week?
Do you want to bet on a Giants team overmatched against a Brady run squad that seems to improve each week as he gains rhythm with his new teammates?
This game is right in the books wheelhouse, I give the home underdog a 51% chance of winning, which is not enough edge to bet the grocery money.