Welcome to Week 5 of the NFL season. One early trend we've seen in 2020 is the improved performance of road teams covering the number. Visitors are 34-30 ATS (53.1%) through four weeks. This may not seem that impressive, but over the past decade road teams are roughly 51%. So we are seeing about a 2% increase to road teams this season. This is likely due to the decreased value of home field advantage because of the pandemic. Stadiums either have no fans or limited fans, making it easier on the road team as they no longer have to deal with hostile environments. If a road team also receives line movement of at least a half-point in their direction (think + 7 to + 6.5 or -3 to -3.5), they improve to 17-11 ATS (60.7%). This is key because it combines the lack of home field advantage with the presence of smart money in the form of line movement.
Short road dogs have also been profitable. Road dogs getting 7-points or less are 20-13 ATS (60.6%). Road dogs getting 3-points or less are 8-3 ATS (72.7%).
For more Sunday NFL analysis and betting updates be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning 10 a.m.-noon on The Lombardi Line. We'll be dissecting all the big matchups and breaking down late sharp action.
Until then, let's discuss four NFL matchups receiving notable sharp action from respected bettors today.
1 p.m. ET: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
These NFC South rivals are trending in opposite directions. After dropping their first two games to start the season, the Panthers (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) have rebounded to win two straight, most recently beating the Cardinals 31-21 at 3-point dogs. Meanwhile, the Falcons (0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS) have been a disaster this season. Atlanta is one of only four winless teams this season, along with the 0-4 Jets, Texans and Giants. The Falcons are coming off a 30-16 loss to the Packers as 5-point dogs. This line opened with Atlanta listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. Spread bets are split down the middle and the public doesn't know who to take. However, we've seen this line fall from Falcons -3.5 to -2.5. In a vacuum, a line shouldn't move at all if the tickets are even. So we know this drop was caused my smart money on the Panthers. Carolina has value as a road divisional dog with a line move. The Panthers also enjoy a rest advantage as the Falcons are coming off a Monday Night game. Carolina is -3 in point differential this season and the Falcons are -32.
1 p.m. ET: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
This AFC South matchup features two bottom feeder teams looking to turn their seasons around. The Jaguars (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS) shocked the Colts in Week 1 but have since fallen on hard times and dropped three straight games since. Most recently, Jacksonville fell to the Bengals 33-25 as 1-point dogs. It's been an even worse season for the Texans (0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS), who remain winless and just fired longtime Head Coach Bill O'Brien. This line opened with Houston listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. A slight majority of bets are backing the Texans, expected a bump following the coaching change. However, we've seen the Texans fall from -6.5 to -5.5, signaling wiseguy money grabbing the points with the Jags. Jacksonville has value as a road divisional dog. Historically, divisional dogs getting around a touchdown have been a profitable bet as the built in familiarity levels the playing field and benefits the team getting points. The Jags are -22 in point differential. Houston is -46. Bill Vinovich is the head official. Historically, he has favored road teams (57.4% ATS).
4:25 p.m. ET: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
This NFC East grudge match features two teams desperate for a win. The Giants (0-4 SU, 2-2 ATS) have yet to post a victory this season, although they kept it close last week in a 17-9 loss to the Rams, covering as 13.5-point dogs. Meanwhile, after their miracle comeback win against Atlanta, the Cowboys (1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS) have dropped two straight, most recently falling to the Browns 49-38 as 3.5-point home favorites. This line opened with Dallas listed as a 9.5-point favorite. The public sees a "get right" spot for Dallas against a bad Giants team. However, despite a slight majority of bets laying the points, we've seen this line fall to 8.5. This signals liability on the G-Men getting big points. New York has value as a contrarian road divisional dog with a line move. Also, Craig Wrolstad is the lead official. He has historically favored road teams (56.5% ATS). The Giants are -49 in point differential. The Cowboys are -20.
More NFL Line Moves
Raiders + 12 to + 11.5 at Chiefs
Washington + 9.5 to + 7 vs Rams
Jets + 8 to + 7 vs Cardinals
Eagles-Steelers Under 45 to 43.5
Bengals + 13 to + 12 at Ravens
Dolphins + 9 to + 7.5 at 49ers