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Home Field Advantage

Every so often we will receive an email from a novice football spread bettor with a question that many of you may have asked yourself before. In addition to replying to this lady's question we felt in would be helpful to post the question and answer on the site for all to read.

Today we received a question from "Tiffany" in Waltham, MA. Tiffany asks, "I noticed that in the Green Bay at Atlanta game the Falcons are only favored by 3 points! Isn't that a small point spread?"

Our reply was as follows...

Well Tiffany, 3 points for the home team usually indicates that the two teams are fairly evenly matched. At least according to the odds makers. The Falcons get 3 points and are favored only because they have home field advantage.

Home field advantage is predicated on a few things. First, the fact is the home team does not have the wear and tear of having to travel and be away from home. The theory is they're a bit more rested.

The crowd also works into home field advantage. The idea is fairly obvious, sixty thousands fans rooting for you is better than having sixty thousand rooting against you. Advantage, once again, goes to the home team. Although many experts feel that this aspect is overblown, it's impossible to calculate. There are weeks in pro-football where virtually all of the home teams win and win by more than the spread. But there are weeks where the advantage seems to evaporate from the league and a majority of the visiting teams are victorious. So wagering purely on home field can be misguided.

The final aspect of the home team having an edge over the visitors relates to the playing field. True, unlike baseball, there are no odd shaped fields in football. They're all rectangles. They're all 100 yards long. And they're all 160 feet wide.

However, Miami in September is much different than New England in December. Due to weather, stadium positioning, and other factors, the wind in Pittsburgh acts differently than the wind in Green Bay. Playing on grass or turf, playing inside rather than out, and simply knowing the peculiarities of each inch of ground on your field all help create that 3 point spread in favor of the home team.

So if the spread is 3 in favor of the home squad, you supposedly have two closely matched teams.

Wishing you wise wagering,

(Jack has been betting on football ever since he was handed a football card, picked ten teams without a thought, and lost twenty bucks. That was many years ago. Since that time he's dedicated himself to knowing the mechanics of football handicapping and wagering. He is now one of the respected handicappers at Our handicapping picks can be purchased on the signup page of the site)


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