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Dogs lovelier second time around

Dec 10, 2002 2:09 AM

   The NFL schedules two meetings each year between teams in the same division, thereby breeding more intense rivalries. Handicappers need to determine what took place in the first game to predict how the rematch will turn out.

   It is necessary to know whether the team playing at home for the rematch has a stronger than typical home field advantage. Well, the answer is yes and no.

   For home favorites playing the second game of the season against a division adversary, there’s no great history of success. However, home underdogs over the past 10 years have covered 58 percent of “second time around” matchups.

   In rematches, quite often the betting public over-reacts to the score from the first game and assumes it will continue to be the story in the next one.

   The winner of the first game covers just 49.5% of the time in the second one. However, home underdogs that won on the road in the opener, are an excellent 68% against the spread in the rematch.

   Home favorites who scored on the road as a dog are strictly 50% plays overall. Likewise, away sides that won outright as home underdogs in the first attempt are a 50/50 proposition.

   Unfortunately, there isn’t much to learn from the box score. It’s noteworthy that home favorites having a +1 or +2 turnover net in the first meeting were just 62-97 ATS (39 percent) in the rematch. If they had a +3 or better turnover mark, the percentage rose to 54.

   Home sides making 4+ turnovers in the first game were a very solid bet in the second one, covering 63 percent of the time.

   Overall though, none of the extra research has built much beyond the basics of giving extra consideration to home underdogs in the second game of a divisional series.

   The second compelling theory on rematch games has to do with Over/Under patterns. A high scoring game in the initial meeting will often be followed by an Under outcome in the second game, and vice-versa.

   Breaking out the data some more, we find that the line range of the second game is important. When two teams combine for 50+ points in the opener, when the Over/Under total is high for the rematch.

   Using 42.5 points or more as our test mark, the Under has been a 64 percent winner the next game. If the line was low (less than 38 percent), the Under covered at a 65 percent rate. Only the games with totals between 38 and 42 points seemed to be less useful.

   Games between teams scoring below 40 in the first matchup saw the Over prevail at a 67 percent rate when the number was 42.5 points or higher.

   To sum up, it’s a good plan to begin your analysis with a preference for the home underdog if there is one, and an outlook that there may be a reversal of form in the Over/Under result.
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Over % in second game



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