Why the NFL Home Underdog Strategy Doesn’t Work

NFL Logo With Two Separate Images of NFL Players Behind

I remember years ago when I first heard about the home underdog betting strategy. I thought it was the best thing ever. It was simple and made perfect sense.

The problem was I didn’t have any idea at the time how sportsbooks operated or made money. I simply assumed that I could use this simple system to rake in profits for years to come.

As you might have guessed, the reality was far from what I thought. I was betting on every home underdog on the NFL schedule and slowly losing my bankroll. I won some games and lost others, but overall my bankroll was moving in the wrong direction.

Here’s an explanation of what the home underdog strategy is, and why it doesn’t work.

The Home Underdog Strategy

One of the most well known NFL betting strategies is the home underdog strategy. The system is simple. You bet on any team that’s playing at home and is an underdog. Everyone knows that home teams have an advantage, so this system kind of makes sense.

The truth is that for a couple years in the past you could’ve made a profit with the home underdog system. But those days are long gone.

The strategy became so popular that it started costing the sportsbooks money.

Once the sportsbooks figured out why they were losing money, they started adjusting their lines in these games to eliminate the hole. If they set a line at the road team at -6 in the past, they set the line at -3 or -4 instead. The books kept working on the lines until they figured out the best line adjustment to eliminate the advantage for bettors.

This is what eventually happens to every popular betting system that works. The sportsbooks are in business to make as much money as possible, and everything they do is based on this fact. The books also have smart people setting lines who adjust to what the public does so they can maximize profits by manipulating lines.

Can You Use It Anyway?

This might seem like an odd question, especially after you just learned why the home underdog strategy doesn’t work. But can you use the home underdog strategy to help you become a winning sports bettor?

You can’t just blindly place bets on every home underdog and show a profit, but you can use it to help you find profitable bets. This strategy was used in the NFL, but I use it to look for profitable bets in college and professional football and basketball, and in professional baseball.

The first games I look at are the ones where the home team is an underdog. Sometimes underdogs win games outright, and sometimes they play well enough to cover the spread. Teams also play better at home than on the road, so if an underdog is going to step up it’s likely to be at home.

NFL Player Ben Roethlisberger During a Passing Play

The problem is that everyone, including the sportsbooks knows these things. But this is just where I start. When I find these games I use my systems and models to handicap the games. I try to determine and expected final score and then compare this score to the available lines.

Then I only make a bet if my handicapping shows value on betting on the home underdog. If there’s no value, I don’t make the bet.

Most bets I make are on underdogs, but you have to learn how to identify value. You can’t blindly do anything in sports betting and hope to make a profit. I use the underdogs as a place to start my handicapping, and then look for value. Don’t make the mistake of trying to force value on a game. Some of the most profitable bets are the ones you don’t make.

Better Options

If you want to find a betting system or strategy that works, you need to develop it yourself. I explain why in the next section, but I can’t give you a system that’s going to win in the long run, and no one else can either. Your only hope for a long term winning sports betting system is developing one yourself.

The best way to develop a long term winning system is to start with one variable and test it. Then add a second variable and test it. Keep adding variables and testing them. Keep the things that work and eliminate the things that don’t.

Here’s an example starting with the home underdog strategy:

Your first variable is home underdogs. You test the strategy and find that it isn’t a profitable strategy anymore. But what if you only bet on home underdogs following a loss, or only after a win? After testing both of these variables, you find another variable to test.

At the same time, maybe you run a separate test that starts with betting on home favorites. The next variable could be betting on home favorites in a dome, or when the temperature is less than 32 degrees.

The possible variables are almost unlimited. This is why it’s so hard to develop a winning system. One of the biggest mistakes sports bettors make is trying to test multiple variables at one time. When you test more than one variable at a time, you never know which variable does what.

The good news is that you can use the power of computers to run dozens or hundreds of tests on different models at the same time. You can learn how to use spreadsheet programs and/or learn how to develop computer programs to test your variables.

NFL Player Diving Into Endzone

I test my models using past results, and then when I find a model that looks promising I start testing it on upcoming games. When you develop and test multiple models and variables at the same time using computers you always have something to work on and it increases your chance of developing a winning system.

Start by making a list of possible variables to test. Don’t stop making your first list until you have at least 100 variables. This gives you a place to start. As you learn how to build and test models, keep adding new variables to your list.

Remember that some variables won’t work, so you discard them as you learn more. But don’t forget about them, because a variable that doesn’t work with one system might work in a combination with another variable, or group of variables, that you haven’t tried yet.

When you finally find a system or model that works, congratulations. But don’t stop at this point. Continue testing your model and developing new ones. Your system might work for awhile and stop producing a profit. Sportsbooks evolve and learn how to set more profitable lines, so you might need to adjust your system over time.

Popular Sports Betting System Problems

The problem with any sports betting system that becomes popular is if it works, the sportsbooks know about it and are going to make adjustments so it doesn’t work in the future. Even worse, if the system doesn’t work, the sportsbooks know about this too, and they aren’t going to make adjustments and you’re going to keep losing.

You can learn a great deal about betting on sports by reading good books and good online articles. But you’re not going to find a solid system by reading that can beat the sportsbooks in the long run. Everyone wants a magic system, but you’re not going to find one in a book or articles or in a course someone sells you.

The only way to get a winning sports betting system is to develop it yourself. This takes a great deal of work and time, because it’s not easy to be a winning sports bettor.

And when you do develop a winning system, you need to keep it a secret. You shouldn’t ever tell anyone about your system. You shouldn’t even admit that you have a system. If your winning system gets out, the sportsbooks are eventually going to figure out how to make it useless.

You also need to ignore any system that sounds simple. Betting on home underdogs is a simple system. The sportsbooks know about every possible simple system. I’m not saying that you have to use advanced calculus to design a winning sports betting system, but it does need to be something the sportsbooks don’t know about if you want to win in the long run.


You can’t use the home underdog strategy to consistently win your sports bets. But you can use it as the basis of your own handicapping strategy and system. Learn how to develop and test your own sports betting systems so you have a real chance to make a long term profit. The only way to develop a wining system is to test as many variables as you can, one at a time.