While home underdog statistics vary from year to year, if you look at the big picture over the last 25 years, there have been two constants in the NFL; home underdogs cover the spread more often than not, and the public almost always prefers road favorites.
It isn’t too surprising that the public often backs road favorites. For one, the public as a whole loves and prefers favorites in general. But secondly, home-field advantage is important in football; if a team is an underdog at home, the road team is probably clearly preferable, especially to bettors that already like favorites.
Home underdogs should always be considered and bet against with a bit of caution, but there are some circumstances where they are even more dangerous than usual.
1. Against a Division Rival
Familiarity breeds contempt, and that is clear when division rivals face each other. Playing two times a year every year, division rivals tend to hate each other and play tough and physical games against one another. Coupled with the intensity from a home crowd that also hates the opposing team, underdogs in division rivalries are almost always a threat to not only cover the spread but to win outright, regardless of the talent discrepancy between the two teams. This is especially true late in the season when the road favorite has something on the line.
2. Playing in Their Second Straight Home Game
A home team playing in their second straight home game is generally comfortable and focused. They haven’t had to travel in nearly two weeks, meaning more time spent in their own homes and in their own beds without the stresses of being on the road. In a league where any team can win on any given day, sometimes how much energy a team has is the deciding factor.
These teams are even more dangerous if they lost at home the week before. No team wants to be embarrassed in front of their home crowd twice in a row. No travel + added motivation makes home underdogs coming off of a home loss extremely dangerous.