Almost yearly on Thanksgiving, Fox NFL commentator Troy Aikman admits he felt his Dallas Cowboys were at an unfair advantage on Thanksgiving. As most are aware, Dallas was playing at home in a short week on Turkey Day.
The Hall-of-Fame QB’s experience as a player was the same as mine as the top NFL handicapper. Home field advantage increases in short weeks. Thanks to an expanded Thursday night NFL schedule this season, the number of opportunities have as well.
Home teams in NFL Thursday games are 52-37-2 since 1989 if the road team played the Sunday before. This angle benefits Green Bay over Chicago in week No. 2, Carolina over the NY Giants in week 3, Baltimore over Cleveland in Week 4, St. Louis over Arizona in week 5, and Tennessee over Pittsburgh in Week 6.
Percentage wise, the angle increases for home favorites, who have covered at a 35-16 rate, 29-14 if laying three or more, 16-7 at (-7) or higher. Thus, the bigger the mismatch, the more a home team benefits from the short schedule.
In experimenting whether either team is off a win or loss, there was not any statistically significant sub-system. Many times this column has stated how, “conventional wisdom” is the ultimate oxymoron in gambling. However, this is one illustration of an angle that both makes sense and dollars in NFL football picks.
There is also a 53-38 angle favoring the under. After some discussion with sharp minds that I respect, the prevailing theory is less prep time in a short week would translate into more vanilla offenses. When the home team is favorite, the under is 35-18.
Our evergreen disclaimer is that an angle is merely a part of the preponderance of evidence that goes into a pick. But weeks two through six will have games that the home favorite and under get check marked as possible bets.