How Home-Field Advantage Affects NFL Betting

Young fans hold up signs for Eli Manning of the New York Giants in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles

In NFL betting, the home-field advantage plays a huge role when sports bettors determine the football betting line between the two teams in a matchup. Throughout the history of the game, the home-field advantage has always been assigned a worth of three points. On average, the figure is approximately 2.7 points for every NFL franchise, and that is why sportsbook casinos generally give three points to the home team. Let’s look at how the home-field advantage can affect your sports betting odds when it comes to the exciting game of football.

What is home-field advantage?

The reason for the home-field advantage is owed to the idea that a team gains an edge when they play in front of their own fans. Over 57% of games are won by the home team in the NFL which puts the traveling team at a distinct disadvantage. NFL experts continue to debate the real impact this notion has on the game. 

Calculating the home-field advantage

Whether you are a casual NFL fan, devoted follower, or online sports betting enthusiast, the first thing you’ll need to know is how to calculate the home-field advantage for any team. It’s simple, really. You’ll need to compare the team’s winning percentage at home to their winning percentage on the road. In order to do this calculation, you’ll need a relatively big sample size and be sure to weigh recent results more heavily. The larger the difference, the larger the home-field impact for the football betting lines purposes.

Factors that affect team performance

Aerial view of fans and players at the Super Bowl XLVIII between the Broncos and Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium.

Many NFL fans and experts will argue that there is no absolute factor when it comes to calculating home-field advantage but rather a combination of elements. Here are a few factors that can influence a team’s performance:

  • Venue: NFL teams can build their rosters according to the favorable conditions of their home stadium. Whether the team has an indoor or outdoor arena will greatly impact the team’s performance. For example, an indoor turf means the game will not be affected by harsh weather conditions. The outdoor conditions of a grass turf will favor a punishing style of defense. This will all heavily impact the outcome of the matchup between NFL teams.
  • Travel: In any sport, a team that has to travel long distances is always at a disadvantage because of the physical toll the traveling can have on players. For example, in the NFL, if the Los Angeles Chargers must travel all the way from the west coast to the east coast to play against a team like the New England Patriots, the Chargers will be at a great disadvantage. Fatigue from traveling is inevitable as well as the time zone difference.
  • Temperature and altitude: If the matchup takes place at a high altitude, and the road team has not properly acclimated to it, particularly in warmer temperatures, they will be at a physiological disadvantage. The home team will be aware of this and will factor it into their strategy.
  • Home stadium familiarity: There is a theory that claims that players inevitably feel more comfortable when they play in familiar surroundings. A certain confidence pulsates in players and the team as a whole when they play at their home stadium. This surge in confidence can lead to a better overall performance. 
  • Officiating bias: It’s the thing we love to hate as sports fans. Officiating bias is what we end up arguing about long after a game has ended, especially when a referee doesn’t call in our team’s favor. When it comes to home-field advantage, the subconscious bias from referees could be influenced by the home crowd. This could mean that the referee is seen to be more generous and lenient with the home team, particularly if the referee is swayed by the roaring crowd.

How to use the home-field advantage when betting

When it comes to football and sports betting odds in general, you will need to look at the team’s performance history. In the NFL, throughout the last two decades, the home team wins have ranged between 50% and 60%. Of course, you’ll still need to look at the matchup and not simply go with the home team as your favorite to win. However, a team’s historical home-field win percentage is vital information for a sports betting fan. If you look at the home-field advantage by focusing on specific teams, you will notice an important trend. The New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New Orleans Saints all have home-field win percentages above 70%. The Saints are the perfect example of why sports bettors need to factor in the home-field advantage. They have only won their division three times, since 2008. However, they still have a home-field win percentage that is higher than 70%

Based on the statistics and case studies of NFL teams, it has been proven that some teams perform better at home. Whether it is due to the influence of the crowd or not we cannot know, but the statistics are there to show that playing at home does matter.

Doing thorough research on the teams and matchups you’re betting on will count in your favor. Instead of simply giving the home team three points in every game you’re betting on, you can have better odds. This may not be perfect, but you can use these home-win percentages to help you stay ahead of the sportsbook casino or to simply put together a better NFL betting system. As you look into placing your bets, you now know that the home-field advantage varies from team-to-team.

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Gareon Conley blocks a pass and breaks up play meant for Breshad Perriman in a game between Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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