It’s probably not discussed as much as home court in basketball and even college football, but teams in the NFL often have significant edges at home and liabilities on the road. A key part of sports is emotion. Even though NFL players are professional athletes getting paid to do a job to the best of their abilities, playing well before the home fans really is more important than playing as well on the road.
The hometown fans are the ones who, in essence, are paying their salaries. No player wants to give 50% and lose a game badly in front of the home crowd. In addition, other factors can influence a team’s performance at home or on the road. The Chiefs have great home fans and for years oddsmakers at BetBubbles have factored in a bit greater edge to the Chiefs at home with respect to the line. The Broncos also enjoy a unique edge at home, not only from great fans but the thin air in the Colorado mountains. Denver players are used to practicing and playing in the thin, cooler air, while some opponents aren’t.
Another factor is playing surface. Dick Vermeil built the Rams in the late 1990s with an eye for speed at WR and RB. His spread attack, along with then-offensive coordinator Mike Martz, was predicated on speed which performed better on the artificial playing surface in the St. Louis dome. Last year the Rams were 6-2 SU at home, but 3-7 SU/ATS on the road. The Greatest Show on Turf is far less so on grass. This season the Rams are 2-1 SU at home averaging 30 points, but 1-3 SU/ATS on the road where the offense averages a full TD less.
Take a look at the East divisions in each conference and you currently find a remarkable home/road disparity. In the NFC East, no team has a winning record on the road. Yet, the Redskins, Giants and Eagles are a combined 9-0 at home. In the AFC East, the Patriots have a 2-2 road record, while the other teams are a combined 0-9 on the road. Long travel can play a roll, as well. Notice the Buffalo Bills had a long road trip to Oakland Sunday, and had their worst game in a 38-17 loss. In fact, Buffalo is 3-1 SU/ATS at home this season, 0-3 SU/ATS on the road. It’s not just the struggles of QB J.P. Losman .5? the whole team appears to pack it in away from home.
Lovie Smith’s Bears really seem to get fired up in front of the Chicago fans, standing at 3-0 SU/ATS were the offense averages over 20 points per game. But on the road, the Bears are winless averaging 9 per game. Notice the geographical location of a team like the Seahawks, playing way up in the Northwest corner of the U.S. in Seattle. A team in a city like that has a longer way to travel to away games, and they’ve already made long trips to the East coast in Jacksonville and Washington, as well as St. Louis. The Seahawks are 1-2 Su/ATS on the road, and 4-0 at home! Seattle’s offense plays best at home, too, averaging 28 per game at home after averaging 25 per game last season in Seattle. For totals bettors, keep in mind the Seahawks are 9-4 .5?over.5? the total their last 13 home games.
This season is going to interesting to follow because of the displacement of the New Orleans Saints, who are playing their home games in San Antonio. No team has ever faced this kind of grueling road schedule. Notice that after a surprising 23-20 road win at Carolina to open the season, the Saints are 0-3 SU/ATS in official road games.