NFL fans are inching closer to the 2023 season, with the preseason just a few more weeks away. (Related: BetMGM now has football odds up for the Hall of Fame game.)
For my part, I’m continuing my investigation into some of the raw numbers and trends of NFL betting, both from last season and the last handful of years.
Here’s what I found on NFL ATS records, with a focus on how home teams have performed.
Best NFL ATS Home Teams in 2022
The Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers were the best-covering home teams in NFL betting during the 2022 season. Both teams were 7-2 against the number.
Three teams were 6-3 ATS when playing as a home team in 2022, and all three were from the NFC East. It was the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles.
It may not be a coincidence that all five of the best home ATS teams from last season were in the NFC. The lack of depth through the middle and bottom portion of the conference contrasts starkly with the AFC, whose “bad” teams were still pretty competitive. That’s a plausible explanation for why AFC favorites were much less adept at meeting market expectations.
However, the Lions and 49ers’ place at the top of the home ATS mountain is no coincidence. Both teams suffered in-season setbacks that crashed market expectations. For the Lions, it was a bad opening stretch of the season; for the 49ers, it was the need to play third-string quarterback Brock Purdy for large stretches of the season.
NFL bettors largely thought those developments would leave the teams dead in the water. Instead, they both went on long winning streaks through the back half of the season.
The exceeded expectations can be drawn directly to the excellent ATS marks.
NFL ATS Records at Home
|ATS Record as Home Team, 2022
|ATS Record as Home Team, 2018-22
Best NFL ATS Home Teams (Last Five Years)
At 26-15, the Miami Dolphins have been one of the most consistent home covers in NFL betting over the last five years.
That’s a curious outcome for a few reasons. The Dolphins play in one of the most difficult divisions in the NFL, with respected head coaches and elite quarterbacks. They have won zero playoff games and struggled with both quarterbacks and head coaches during the time frame in question.
So where is the giant market advantage coming from? It’s hard to say. The weather and conditioning could play a factor, as could Miami’s infamous social scene.
But it is telling that the Dolphins fielded their first playoff team in several seasons last year, yet had a .500 home ATS record. My broad assumption here is that Miami has spent much of the last five years as a more-competitive-than-you-think franchise, with fans and markets focusing too much on the flaws and dysfunction.
It’s easy to be overlooked as a good team when playing in a division with Josh Allen and (formerly) Tom Brady.
Average NFL point spread for home teams per @EvanHAbrams
Home-field advantage decreasing.
— John Ewing (@johnewing) November 3, 2022
At 24-16-1, one of the next-best teams over the last five years is the Dallas Cowboys. This, too, is an interesting revelation.
The Cowboys are widely known as one of the most public teams in NFL betting, with huge volumes of fans and bettors electing to bet them week after week.
Most public teams, like Kansas City or Buffalo, generally have .500 records or worse because the lines end up very square from all the action. So why is Dallas eight games above .500?
It’s hard to say for sure, but my best guess would be that Dallas is a unique public team. Unlike most public teams, which attract only trailers or faders, Dallas attracts both. People love the Cowboys; people hate the Cowboys. It’s hard to be ambivalent.
If the two-way emotions translate to two-way action, that could be an explanation for the Cowboys’ unlikely ATS success.
NFL Home Teams Have Become Historically Awful
Overall, home teams aren’t very good against the spread. Eight teams have positive home ATS records over the last five seasons, which means a whopping 24 teams – 75% of the league! – are .500 or worse.
And as any seasoned bettor can tell you, .500 or worse means negative ROI.
This ties into something I wrote a few weeks ago, about how home teams had become the most overrated NFL teams to bet on. The myth that teams always win at home has ballooned to epically overwrought proportions, which has translated to the NFL point spread market. Very few teams consistently beat the market at home.
Keep this in mind in 2023 and beyond. Betting on road teams is a lot more profitable.
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