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Home 'dogs - Bark or Bite?

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The NFL regular season approaches the midway point with 104 of 256 games having been played. Unlike last season, 2010 is unfolding as a season in which underdogs, both home and road, are enjoying great success both straight up and ATS.

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Sportsbooks have started the season profiting handsomely as the general public historically plays favorites, many of which over priced right from the outset. Thus far in 2010 Road Underdogs have gone 39-24-3 ATS (61.9 %) while Home Underdogs are a solid 22-14-1 ATS (61.1 %) through the first seven weeks of the 2010 season. These results again raise the question of the long held “belief” that the best “value” comes playing Underdogs, especially home underdogs.

Yet witness how Home Underdogs have done over the years. Over the past 28 seasons Home Underdogs are 1039-976-56 ATS, or 51.56%. That’s below the 52.4% needed to break even laying 11 to 10!

Since 1982 the best season for Home Underdogs was 1996 when they went 39-25-0 for 60.9%, a profit of 11.5 net units (2002 & 2006 were close behind).

The worst was 2005 as Home Pups went 29-47-4 for just 38.2% and a whopping loss of 22.7 net units (previously 1984 had produced the poorest results). Of the past 28 seasons there have been only 9 seasons in which Home Underdogs hit at less than 50%.

BUT 5 OF THOSE SUB .500 SEASON HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST 6!
There have also been 4 seasons in which Home Dogs hit above 50% but below the ‘break even’ point of 52.4%). There have been 15 seasons in which Home Underdogs turned a profit, but in 8 of them the profit was less than 2.0 net units for the entire season!

Home Underdogs (1982-2009)
Season Record Pct. Net
1982 17-18-0 44.7% -2.8
1983 32-29-0 52.5% 0.1
1984 33-44-0 42.9% -15.4
1985 41-37-3 52.6% 0.3
1986 40-36-1 52.6% 0.4
1987 28-24-0 53.9% 1.6
1988 32-29-0 52.5% 0.1
1989 37-35-1 51.4% -1.5
1990 32-33-2 49.2% -4.3
1991 43-34-4 55.8% 5.6
1992 43-38-0 53.1% 1.2
1993 38-33-3 53.5% 1.7
1994 30-29-2 50.9% -1.9
1995 40-35-1 53.3% 1.5
1996 39-25-1 60.9% 11.5
1997 35-33-2 51.5% -1.3
1998 39-31-6 55.7% 4.9
1999 44-33-7 55.1% 7.7
2000 36-37-1 49.3% -4.7
2001 43-37-6 53.8% 2.3
2002 51-36-3 58.6% 11.4
2003 36-34-4 51.4% -1.4
2004 38-43-2 46.9% -9.3
2005 29-47-4 38.2% -22.7
2006 47-33-1 58.8% 10.7
2007 42-46-1 47.7% -8.6
2008 32-41-2 43.8% -13.1
2009 42-46-0 47.7% -8.6
TOTAL 1039-976-56 51.56% -34.6

Blindly betting Home Underdogs between 1982 and 2004 would have produced a net profit of just 7.7 units but that entire profit was more than offset by the loss in 2005 of 22.7 net units for a net loss, on a flat bet basis, of 15.0 units over more than 1,700 plays -- hardly the definition of long term success -- or success at all for that matter. 10.8 units were “recovered” in 2006 but most of that was given back in 2007 when Home Underdogs produced a net loss of 8.6 units with more given back in 2008 when Home Underdogs produced a net loss of 13.1 units with another 8.6 units of loss suffered in 2009.

Thus there has been an overall NET LOSS of 34.6 units by blindly having bet NFL Home Underdogs over the past 28 seasons! Quite a surprise to nearly everyone. Especially when that entire net loss has occurred in just the past 5 seasons and there have been net losses with Home Underdogs in 6 of the past 7 seasons!

As to the “value” of Home Underdogs? It’s a matter of semantics or, more accurately, a matter of relativity. Home Underdogs are the best of four “evils” in that relative to Home Favorites, Road Favorites and Road Underdogs betting on Home Underdogs has produced the lowest level of losses over more than a quarter century.

So the next time you hear a handicapper or commentator extol the virtues of the Home Underdog you will be aware that the “bark” is much louder than the “bite” and that while looking for Home Underdogs is indeed a solid approach to handicapping it’s not the be all and end all many have proclaimed it to be.

  
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