NFL Preseason Trends: Home Teams Make Betting History in 2022
Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson
The NFL Preseason came to a close on Sunday after 49 games and three weeks of action.
Between the Ravens winning their 23rd consecutive preseason game straight up, the Seahawks naming Geno Smith their starter and many other storylines… home teams in the preseason are a topic to take a gander at.
In 2022, home teams finished 30-18 (62.5%) straight up and 28-17-3 (62.2%) against the spread in the preseason. A $100 bettor blindly taking home teams would have been up $816, the most for a single preseason in Bet Labs (since 2004).
Not only did home teams outperform expectations this year, but the results were drastic.
Home teams covered the point spread by an average of 2.53 PPG in the 2022 preseason, 0.8 points more than the second-biggest cover margin for home teams for a single season in Bet Labs, back in 2004 with a 1.73 PPG margin.
With the NFL playing fewer preseason games over the last two seasons, I assumed we would see some year-over-year consistency with trends, but they really couldn’t have been more polar opposites.
This year, home teams went 28-17-3 (62.2%) ATS, covering the spread by 2.53 PPG.
In 2021, home teams went 13-32-2 (28.9%) ATS, failing to cover the spread by 5.0 PPG. Last year, we saw the lowest win percentage and the second-least profitable season for home teams in the preseason.
This isn’t just a year-over-year issue; 2022 has been an outlier compared to recent history when it comes to preseason games.
Between 2011 and 2021, home teams returned a negative ROI every single season for 10 consecutive years. In that span, home teams went a combined 279-325-15 (46.2%) ATS, losing a $100 bettor $6,191, a -10% return on investment.
But can we glean anything from a betting perspective on this home cooking in the preseason?
Let’s start by looking at cover margins for the top-four home years in the preseason, with a focus on the regular season.
Prior to 2022, the four best home preseason cover margins came in 2015, 2014, 2011 and 2004. The results? All four of those years had home teams under .500 against the spread during the regular season, going a combined 469-513-34 (47.8%) against the spread, for a -6.6% ROI.
Overall, home teams have had their share of troubles in the NFL during the regular season. 2017 is the last time we saw home teams turn a profit during the regular season, and it’s only happened TWICE since 2004 (2013 being the other season).
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a shock to hear we currently have 10 home underdogs in Week 1 of the NFL season — the most in an opening week since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978.