Post 2020, What NFL Teams Have The Biggest Advantage When Fans Are Present?

Posted By Brant James on September 23, 2021

Home-field advantage means different things to NFL fans and NFL bettors.

Green Bay faithful anticipate the Lambeau Leap and preposterous winter temperatures that turn playoff games into exercises in pain for the visitors. In Denver, it’s about thin air and fourth-quarter stamina. In Tampa and Miami, it’s oh, so much heat and humidity throughout the season. In Seattle, there’s drizzle and noise.

But those are just some of the factors that help a team establish home dominance. The Packers, Bucs, Dolphins and Seahawks have all endured stretches of mediocrity or worse despite their inherent home-field advantages. But that’s just in terms of wins. Again, what matters most to fans.

But for bettors, it’s about what teams do against the spread, how often they beat that line. That’s the deal. Betting on the NFL had a new wrinkle last year that’s just now smoothing itself out two games into the 2021 season.

Some teams fared better without fans in peculiar 2020 season

COVID-19 emptied stadiums in 2020 and forced a rethinking for NFL bettors and oddsmakers alike. Three points wasn’t the automatic buffer to a non-atrocious home team. Some unexpected teams thrived. But with fans returning in force for 2021, it remains to be seen whether old home stalwarts return to the reliable.

“I think it makes a difference,” Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings told PlayUSA. “It’s hard to say with only two games into the season what it actually means. I think the 49ers were 1-7 (win/loss) at home last year. If you go to last year, Miami was fabulous. 7-1. I don’t know what that actually means right now. The Bills were good. [WFT], Bucs were good, but the Bucs are just a good team. They’re 2-0 so far at home this year. If you want to go back to ’19, they were terrible (at home), but they were a terrible team then.”

The excitement generated by new stadiums matters, Avello said, noting, the 8-8 overall Vikings went 6-2 at home against the spread in 2016 for the debut of US Bank Stadium. The divisional-round-bowout Falcons went 5-3 ATS at home in the opening season for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017. That’s good news for the Raiders and Rams (2-0 overall) and Chargers (1-1).

“I think the teams that’ll do well will be the Rams and Chargers because of the Sofi Stadium. That’s going to certainly help. It’s new,” Avello said. “I can tell you from first-hand experience that Allegiant Stadium is going to make a difference. I was there opening night and that place was pretty crazy. It’s loud. They do the same shenanigans in there that they do at the Knights games.

“So, it’s quite intimidating. I think that’s going to help the Raiders a lot and they’re already 1-0 at home. Dallas, I think we’ll do pretty well at home.”

Here’s a look at the last four NFL seasons, with an admittedly small sample so far for 2021. TeamRankings was used to collate the data.

2017 Best Home Teams ATS

TeamATS Record ATS +/-
Jets7-1+6.9
Bills5-2-1 -.9
Titans 5-2-1    +.8
Bears5-2-1   +3.4
Eagles7-3   +10.7

2018 Best Home Teams ATS

Members of the Seattle Seahawks take the field at Lumen Field before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Sept. 19, 2021, in Seattle. The Titans won 33-30 in overtime. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

TeamATS Record ATS +/-
Patriots7-2+8.2
Bears7-2+5.5
Dolphins6-2+2.1
Seahawks5-2-1+3.9
Panthers5-3+2.4
Cowboys5-3+3.8
Browns5-3-.1


2019 Best Home Teams ATS

TeamATS Record ATS +/-
Packers6-3+.6
Chiefs6-3-1+2.3
Steelers5-3+3.0
Cowboys5-3+5.2
Broncos5-3+.4
Vikings5-3+1.7

via GIPHY


2020 Best Home Teams ATS

TeamATS Record ATS +/-
Dolphins7-1+6.1
Bills7-3+6.9
Buccaneers6-3+3.6
WFT6-3+2.9
Seahawks6-3+1.2

via GIPHY

 


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2021 Best Home Team ATS (two games)

Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore warms up before the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
TeamATS Record ATS +/-
Panthers2-0+11.8
Packers1-0+6.5
Lions1-0+1.5
Ravens1-0+4.5
Bears1-0+1.0
Rams1-0+10.5
Bengals1-0+6.0
Raiders1-0+9.5

A very early snapshot in 2021 with the Panthers‘ surprising turnaround leading the way, their ATS helped by entering the season with a -3.5 spread in a 19-14 opening win against the Jets and walloping the Saints, 26-7, as a -3 underdog. The Lions covered a -9.5 spread in the opener with a 41-33 loss against San Francisco in Week 1 to earn their spot.

Photo by Jeff Lewis / Associated Press
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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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