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NFL home underdogs ring cash machine this season

Updated October 7, 2018 - 9:32 pm

Contrary to popular belief, betting on home underdogs in the NFL hasn’t been a profitable strategy in recent years.

According to TeamRankings.com, home underdogs went 47-47-4 against the spread last season, 211-211-12 ATS the last five years and 413-434-25 ATS the last 10 years.

But this season, home underdogs have been a veritable cash machine. They’re 16-6 ATS, including 4-0 ATS on Sunday with three outright upsets (not that we had any of them).

The Bills beat the Titans 13-12 as 6½-point home ‘dogs, and the Browns beat the Ravens 12-9 in overtime as 3½-point home ‘dogs.

“We talked about it early this week. Cleveland and Buffalo are the two ‘dogs you just have to take,” Boyd Gaming sports book director Bob Scucci said. “Even if you don’t watch the game, bet it and watch the game with one eye open.

“But when you’re getting 3½ points at home or in the case of the Bills 6 at home, you’ve got to take those because the percentages are with you. Even Seattle getting 7½ points (from the Rams) is pretty strong.”

The Seahawks lost but covered in a 33-31 home defeat to Los Angeles. The Jets blew out the Broncos 34-16 as 1-point home ‘dogs.

Books cash big on Bills

Buffalo and Cleveland both winning on last-second field goals — an ugly knuckler in the Browns’ case that barely cleared the crossbar — resulted in two of the best decisions of the day for Las Vegas sports books.

“The biggest one was Buffalo beating Tennessee outright. That line opened at 3 and closed at 6. Everybody was on the Titans,” Scucci said. “Any time Cleveland wins, that’s usually good for us.”

The Rams erased a 31-24 fourth-quarter deficit. When Jared Goff converted a fourth-and-1 from his own 42 with 1:39 left to seal the victory — but not the cover — the crowd at The Orleans sports book still erupted.

“They were cheering like they covered,” Scucci said. “But it was for their money-line parlays and teasers.”

Parity buoys books

The Rams (5-0) and the Chiefs (5-0) — who rolled to a 30-14 win and cover over the Jaguars — are the NFL’s only unbeaten teams after five weeks.

And there are no winless teams after the Cardinals beat the 49ers 28-18 as 3-point underdogs. An MGM Resorts sports book bettor won a six-figure wager on the Cardinals as the Niners fell to 1-12 the last two seasons without Jimmy Garoppolo.

“After five weeks, there are only two undefeated teams and no winless teams,” Caesars Entertainment sports book director Bill Sattler said. “That kind of tells you about the parity going on and maybe why we’re having a decent start to the NFL season.”

Home teams went 8-0 straight-up and 7-1 ATS in the morning games, with the Panthers beating the Giants 33-31 but not covering as 6½-point favorites on Graham Gano’s 63-yard field goal with one second left.

Underdogs went 7-5 ATS on Sunday with five outright upsets, including the Vikings edging the Eagles 23-21 as 3½-point road ‘dogs.

SuperContest top five

The Westgate SuperContest consensus top five picks dipped to 11-13 this season after going 1-3 on Sunday, with the fifth pick the Redskins (+6½) over the Saints on “Monday Night Football.” The Ravens were the top consensus play, and the top five also lost on the Rams and Titans, while winning on the Cardinals.

The SuperContest Gold top five went 2-3. The Ravens were the top play, and the other losers were the Dolphins and Jaguars. The winners were the Cardinals and Steelers, who whipped the Falcons 41-17 as 3½-point favorites.

Rams, Chiefs

The Rams and Chiefs will meet Nov. 19 in Mexico City in a possible matchup of 10-0 teams. Scucci said he’d line the game at pick right now, while Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito would make the Rams a 3-point favorite.

“(The Rams) have more balance,” Esposito said. “They didn’t play a great defensive game (Sunday) but defensively, they’re a far superior team than the Chiefs are at this stage.”

But first things first. Kansas City opened as a 3½-point underdog at New England in Week 6 on “Sunday Night Football.”

“I would imagine slightly more people would take the Chiefs because they’ve looked better for most of the season,” Scucci said. “New England looked great last week, but one game is not enough to persuade the betting public.”

More Betting: Follow all of our betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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