Pride worth more
than just moral victories

Dec 9, 2003 7:17 AM

With the NFL season in the cold winter month of December, the top echelon teams look to solidify their home field advantage for the playoffs while avoiding serious injuries.

Teams battling to make it to the postseason face huge games where winning is imperative. On the other hand, squads with disappointing records are already playing for "next season."

With these disparate objectives, it seems plausible to think that there may be some important historical trends to consider for pro football handicappers intent on maximizing their understanding of the full story for a given match up.

Now the very last week of the season is a particularly unique set of games, with at that point some of the playoff bound teams having no benefit to winning the epitome of a meaningless game.

For Week 15 and 16, we selected the three cutoff points for classifying the teams based on the number of wins entering that week’s games ”” teams with 10 wins that should make the playoffs, those with 7-to-9 victories that are contending and the ones with less than seven that wins seldom make the playoffs.

In match ups between an "in contention" away team and an "out of contention" home team, the home sides are a phenomenal 39-12 ATS (76 percent) as underdogs. The spread record shows an inordinate amount of support for backing the home dog in such a spot.

Also, dominant home teams (10 or more wins) facing a lowly away side are 13-5 ATS when favored by more than five points. And in a battle of two "down and out" franchises, the home team is 12-7 ATS as a dog.

We found that totals have less value in these circumstances. In a match up of two "in contention" 7 to 9 win sides, there’s a small lean to the "over." At lines above the very low level, the "over" record is 29-18 with a 38+ line. Other than that, better look for other factors.

There may be some cries that these generic classifications are not precise enough, but being more specific reduces the sample sizes from their existing low levels to statistically insignificant ones.

Bottom line: Home dogs have been very sound wagers when playing for pride rather than a shot at the postseason!

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