The sports betting world, like the universe, has a way of balancing things out.
One-sided trends, over time, usually even themselves. For bettors, it’s strictly a matter of figuring out when these trends will flip and jumping on the other side before the value is wiped clean.
Take for example the current home team ATS trend in the NFL. Hosts are 57-36-0 SU and 50-40-3 ATS (55.56 percent) heading into Sunday’s Week 7 schedule, including a 32-24-3 ATS (57.14 percent) record for home favorites.
However, Thursday night saw the Arizona Cardinals get blown away by the visiting Seattle Seahawks, 34-22, failing to cover as 4.5-point home underdogs. And last week, home teams took a nose dive, finishing Week 6 with a 6-9 ATS record.
Those could be signs that the tide is turning when it comes to betting NFL home teams this fall. Looking back at past seasons, many one-sided trends to start the season are met with a mirror image in the second half of the schedule, keeping things pretty “Even Steven” when it comes to home/away records for the league.
Oddsmakers don’t factor those early-season trends into the week-to-week lines, staying the course with team-by-team matchups, current form and key injuries as the compasses for setting the NFL odds.
“Trends like this always come back to the mean and if anything, we expect to see more teams cover based on regression,” Peter Childs of Sportsbook.com
“Now, if the public starts supporting this trend with their money, we will adjust but we haven’t seen a change in their betting behavior based on that 57 percent ATS by the home team.”
The oddsmakers are right about the trends balancing themselves out. Since 2003, NFL home teams are 1,460-1,091-2 SU and 1,202-1,275-76 ATS (48.5 percent) - excluding those neutral-site international games.
Last season, home teams were bad against the spread through the first eight weeks of the schedule, posting a 49-65-3 ATS mark (43 percent). However, in the final eight weeks, that trend found even ground, with host clubs finishing 69-67-2 ATS (50.72 percent) – making home teams 118-132-5 ATS (47 percent) on the season.
Over the past 10 NFL seasons – not including 2013 – there have only been a handful of years in which the home/away ATS lean was notable. In 2009, NFL home teams were 115-131-9 ATS (46.8%). In 2008, hosts clubs went 111-138-6 ATS (44.7%). In 2004, they were 115-133-8 ATS (46.4%). And in 2003, home teams were 51.7 percent winners with a 127-118-11 ATS mark.
Heading into Sunday’s Week 7 schedule, sportsbooks currently have 10 of the 14 home teams set as betting favorites, with the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts getting the points at home.