The story of NFL Week 3: A pack of home underdogs

September 24, 2022 08:22 PM
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It only took a quick glance at this week’s NFL lines to realize there were a lot of home underdogs on the board. 

Nine, in fact. 

How big of a number is this by NFL Week 3 standards? If it stands, it will tie a record for the last 30 years, which is as far back as my database goes. There were also nine home underdogs in Week 3 of 2001 and 2012, but never more than that. 

All nine of these home dogs will be playing on Sunday. In my opinion, how these teams fare will be the story of Week 3.

Whenever I see an unusual set of betting circumstances, I like to dig back through my database to see if there’s anything relevant from the past that can help us analyze the future. Take a look at some of the betting systems I found with the understanding that, overall for the last 30 years, Week 3 home underdogs have gone 40-82 SU and 58-62-2 ATS (48.3%).

Eight systems for Week 3 home underdogs

Week 3 home underdogs that were playoff teams the previous season are just 4-18 SU and 9-13 ATS (40.9%) over the last 30 seasons.

Teams negatively affected this week: 

— NEW ENGLAND (vs. Baltimore)

— TENNESSEE (vs. Las Vegas)

— ARIZONA (vs. L.A. Rams)

Steve’s thoughts: Things have swung sharply the other way for these teams and, in many cases, they are the least prepared to deal with adversity. Perhaps they changed coaches or lost key players in the offseason, or endured a key injury in one of the first two games. It’s definitely a red flag to see a playoff team as a home dog this early in a season.

The least successful Week 3 home underdogs against the spread are those playing a nonconference game. In those spots, Week 3 home dogs are just 13-25 SU and 15-23 ATS (39.5%) over the last 30 years. All other Week 3 home dogs are 27-55 SU and 43-39 ATS (52.4%) in the span.

Team negatively affected this week:

— DENVER (vs. San Francisco)

Steve’s thoughts: Unfamiliarity with an opponent is not a favorable thing for a team trying to turn things around in Week 3. In most cases, these unfamiliar opponents are very good teams and there’s a reason the home team is sitting as an underdog.

Strangely, the Week 3 home underdogs that own a 1-1 record have been the worst betting options — even worse than those that are 0-2 — going 15-35 SU and 20-29-1 ATS (40.8%) over the last 30 years. All other Week 3 home dogs are 25-47 SU and 38-33-1 ATS (53.5%) in the span.

Teams negatively affected this week:

— NEW ENGLAND (vs. Baltimore)

— N.Y. JETS (vs. Cincinnati)

— WASHINGTON (vs. Philadelphia)

— ARIZONA (vs. L.A. Rams)

— DENVER (vs. San Francisco)

Steve’s thoughts: Think about this one fundamentally. What are the reasons a 1-1 team would be a home dog in Week 3? I can think of a few. The first possibility: They are a home dog because they are playing a very good team. They’ve shown they can win but are still overmatched. A second possibility: The game they won was against one of the league’s lesser teams, so we don’t yet have a true picture of where they sit in the NFL hierarchy. And a third possibility: Oddsmakers know something just isn’t right with this 1-1 team. Something isn’t clicking, making them vulnerable in Week 3 even on their home field.

Another strange-but-true trend regarding Week 3 home underdogs: The worst defensive teams after two games have proven to be the best home underdogs in Week 3. Over the last 20 seasons, Week 3 home dogs allowing more than 30 PPG are 7-11 SU but 13-5 ATS (72.2%).

Teams positively affected this week:

— TENNESSEE (vs. Las Vegas)

— ARIZONA (vs. L.A. Rams)

Steve’s thoughts: Weed through the disinformation on this one. Why would a supposedly bad defensive team be a good Week 3 home underdog option? The most likely scenario is they faced at least one and quite possibly two very good offensive teams, in which case it’s too early to tell whether they are a truly bad defensive unit.

As one might expect, Week 3 home underdogs facing an 0-2 team have fared relatively well, going 8-10 SU but 11-7 ATS (61.1%) over the last 30 seasons.

Teams positively affected this week: 

— N.Y. JETS (vs. Cincinnati)

— TENNESSEE (vs. Las Vegas)

Steve’s thoughts: In almost all cases, if a team is 0-2 and playing as a road favorite, oddsmakers and other experts are not seeing the cracks clearly yet.

Again, as one might expect, Week 3 home underdogs facing a 2-0 team have struggled, going just 12-34 SU and 19-26-1 ATS (42.2%) over the last 30 seasons.

Teams negatively affected this week: 

— MIAMI (vs. Buffalo)

— INDIANAPOLIS (vs. Kansas City)

— WASHINGTON (vs. Philadelphia)

Steve’s thoughts: Historically, 2-0 teams hitting the road as favorites have a lot of momentum. This is a situation where it seems bettors shouldn’t step on the tracks in front of the oncoming train.

Fittingly, Week 3 home underdogs have had success against teams that haven’t scored a lot of points. These home dogs are 13-12 SU and 17-8 ATS (68%) versus teams scoring 19 PPG or fewer since 2000.

Teams positively affected this week: 

— N.Y. JETS (vs. Cincinnati)

— CAROLINA (vs. New Orleans)

— DENVER (vs. San Francisco)

Steve’s thoughts: Simply put, road favorites that are struggling offensively shouldn’t be road favorites. They offer up good fade opportunities. Typically, I only like backing NFL road favorites that I know can score enough to win and cover.

Don’t worry if a road favorite has allowed a lot of points in the first two games. Week 3 home underdogs facing an opponent allowing 23+ PPG are a brutal 10-33 SU and 14-28-1 ATS (33.3%) over the last 30 seasons.

Teams negatively affected this week: 

— CAROLINA (vs. New Orleans)

— NEW ENGLAND (vs. Baltimore)

— TENNESSEE (vs. Las Vegas)

— ARIZONA (vs. L.A. Rams)

Steve’s thoughts: A Week 3 road favorite that has allowed a lot of points is an entirely different story than one that can’t score, if you ask me. Think about it: If a team is that bad defensively, why would they still be a road favorite? Two reasons. One, oddsmakers still know this is a respected team. Two, it’s a good bet the team has a very capable offense. Again, I only like backing NFL road favorites that I know can fulfill the offensive end of the bargain.

Final thoughts

Out of curiosity, after going through the eight different betting angles I uncovered, I tabulated the number of negative and positive systems affecting each home underdog this week. These are the final counts, listed in order of most negative to most positive:

— NEW ENGLAND (vs. Baltimore): 3 negative, 0 positive

— WASHINGTON (vs. Philadelphia): 2 negative, 0 positive

— ARIZONA (vs. LA Rams): 3 negative, 1 positive

— MIAMI (vs. Buffalo): 1 negative, 0 positive

— INDIANAPOLIS (vs. Kansas City): 1 negative, 0 positive

— TENNESSEE (vs. Las Vegas): 2 negative, 1 positive

— DENVER (vs. San Francisco): 2 negative, 1 positive

— CAROLINA (vs. New Orleans): 1 negative, 1 positive

— NY JETS (vs. Cincinnati): 1 negative, 2 positive

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