NFL Playoff Betting Tip: Home-Field Advantage, First-Round Byes Are Overrated


Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees

Jan 12, 2019, 12:25 AM EST
  • The Saints, Chiefs, Rams and Patriots will all play at home this week, and have had extra week of rest to prepare for the Divisional Round.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze against the spread records for teams with home-field advantage and a first-round bye.

We’ve made it to the Divisional Round, which means the top seeds in this year’s playoffs will finally begin their march to the Super Bowl. The Saints, Chiefs, Rams and Patriots all have a decided advantage over their opponents this week.

These higher seeds not only have the benefit of playing at home, but have had an extra week of rest to prepare for their opponents. Both advantages have proven significant in the postseason.

Since 2003, home teams in the NFL have gone 2,324-1,717-7 (57.5%) straight up (SU) in the regular season per Bet Labs. In the playoffs, teams with home-field advantage have won 61.7% of their games (95-59 SU), a record that improves to an even better 39-21 (65.0%) in the Divisional Round.

Extra rest helps too. In the regular season, teams with eight or more days between games have gone a mediocre 708-687-3 (50.8%) SU. But in the playoffs, such teams are 77-56 (57.9%) SU, including 41-28 (59.4%) SU in the second round.

Of course, winning is not the same as covering. Teams with home-field and a first-round bye in the Divisional Round might be more likely to advance to the Conference Championships, but that has not translated to success at the ticket window.