Every year, on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather ‘round the table and give thanks – for the giant plate of cash they’re about to receive. Thanksgiving Week happens to coincide with the tail end of the NFL regular season, when road-weary teams start having a hard time beating the football odds. But why wait until then? You can get a taste of the very same NFL betting value in Week 1.
The Borghesi Legacy
Hard to believe it’s already been a decade now. But it was way back in 2003 that Richard Borgeshi published a paper that found home underdogs turned into football betting behemoths right around Week 15. Four years later, Borghesi crunched the numbers again and found that the NFL betting market was undervaluing the impact of weather on these late-season games.
But it’s not just cold weather that can trip up a road favorite. Borghesi also found a smaller correlation between unusually hot conditions and home dog success in the early weeks of the NFL campaign. This part of his study doesn’t get much play, since there are only a handful of opportunities every year for bettors to take advantage.
Hot Enough For Ya?
Let’s take a look at some of last year’s Week 1 results, and see how the home dogs fared overall:
New England 34, Tennessee (+4.5) 13; 74 degrees F – LOSS
Philadelphia 17, Cleveland (+9) 16; 68 F – WIN
Atlanta 40, Kansas City (+1) 24; 69 F – LOSS
Seattle 16, Arizona (+1) 20; Dome – WIN
Carolina 10, Tampa Bay (+3) 16; 83 F – WIN
Not a bad performance at 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS. But what can we take from these numbers? Did the Panthers wilt at Raymond James Stadium? The Seahawks got to play under a dome, but it was 95 degrees outside in Glendale – what effect did that have on the visitors? Don’t forget, the Cardinals always had to play Week 1 on the road before the University of Phoenix Stadium opened in 2006.
Here’s something we do know: Arizona is 4-0 SU and ATS in its new confines as a September home dog. Tampa Bay? 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS dating back to 2001. Maybe it just doesn’t get hot enough down in The Big Guava.
So who’s hot (literally) for Week 1? Here’s what the weather forecast holds for our home dogs in their season openers, with their NFL odds included:
New England at Buffalo (+10.5): 74 F
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets (+3): 78 F
Kansas City at Jacksonville (+3.5): 86 F
Seattle at Carolina (+3): 84 F
Houston at San Diego (+3): 78 F
What is this, global warming or something? The Texans catch something of a break; their first game against the Chargers is the back end of a Monday Night Football doubleheader, so they won’t be kicking off until 7:20 p.m. Pacific Time. But look at what’s cooking in Jacksonville and Carolina – both 1:00 p.m. starts. At least there aren’t any hurricanes in the forecast. Yet.
Conveniently enough, both the Jaguars and the Panthers seem to perform fairly well in their native habitats. The Jags are 4-4 SU and 5-3 ATS as home dogs in September dating back to 2001. The ‘Cats are 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS over the same span. The Chargers? They haven’t been home dogs in September since 2004, back when Drew Brees was handing the ball of to LaDainian Tomlinson.
Stupid small sample sizes, as always, no one NFL betting trend should dictate which teams you take when you’re shopping the football lines. But history suggests you’re more likely to get some value next week out of Jacksonville and Carolina. Bring some of that zinc oxide with you – and a really good umbrella, just in case.