Welcome back to another week as we compare NFL teams playing in front of their fans against teams playing in empty stadiums.
Week 6 was our first time studying the trend, and the research showed that teams with fans were covering significantly more than teams without. The catch in this study was the extremely small sample size, but another week adds more validity to the trend.
So, how did Week 6 go? The results continue highlighting the disparity: Home teams with fans went 5-4 ATS, while teams in their empty stadiums were just 1-4.
Six weeks in, teams playing in front of their fans are 16-11 ATS, while those without fans are 25-38. In other words, that’s a 59% coverage rate compared to just 38%.
At this point, I’m starting to turn my attention towards the road teams playing in these empty stadiums. I’ll add two important metrics to consider when looking at this 38-percent: home teams in 2018 covered 48% of the time, and the number dipped to 44% last year.
Those numbers tell me it’s not uncommon for home teams to not cover well, but that 2020 is off to a unique start. For me, while it remains just Week 7, the presence of fans is clearly making a difference. Put another way, the absence of fans seems to be making even more of a difference.
As always, let’s take a look at all relevant teams before we dive into the matchups to consider for this Sunday.
Home Teams With Fans
|Atlanta||0-1||First time with fans Week 5|
|Carolina||1-1||First time with fans Week 4|
|Cleveland||1-0||First time with fans Week 5|
|Dallas||0-3||25% capacity every game|
|Houston||0-1||First time with fans Week 4|
|Indianapolis||2-1||Increasing to 12,000|
|Jacksonville||1-2||25% capacity in every game|
|Philadelphia||1-0||First time with fans Week 6|
|Pittsburgh||2-0||First time with fans Week 5|
|Tampa Bay||2-1||25% moving forward|
|Cincinnati||N/A||Starting Week 7|
|Denver||N/A||Starting Week 7|
|Green Bay||N/A||Starting 11/1|
*I will keep the above updated throughout this year, and add more teams as states continue navigating health concerns with reopening efforts.
Week 7 Games to keep an eye on: With fans
Giants at Eagles (-4.5)
Packers at Texans (+3.5)
Lions at Falcons (-2.5)
Browns at Bengals (+3)
Steelers at Titans (-1)
Chiefs at Broncos (+9.5)
Last week, I ended up taking the entire board of home teams with fans, besides the Cowboys. It wasn’t much, but it put me up two units, and wins like that on a weekly basis are going to add up.
I’ll offer the similar suggestion I did last week. When contemplating whether this trend is legitimately something to act on, don’t feel the need to go all-in. As with anything, take in the board, if any of the teams above speak to you, ride it and know the numbers for this 2020 season back you up.
Of the above, I like the Eagles to cover the 4.5-point spread, and there’s something about the Bengals (+3) and Broncos (+9.5) both playing in front of their fans for the first time that speaks to me.
This take isn’t rooted in statistics, it just simply feels like an emotional high I want to ride. I expect these fans to provide a noticeable spark for their team after an extended absence away.
I keep betting against the Lions and losing money, but I like the Falcons to cover here as well. As a football fan, I’m really excited to see what happens in this Steelers-Titans game. I think I may take a step back from choosing a team and just roll with the over at 50.5 and watch two of the AFC’s best go at it.
Week 7 Home Teams to Consider Fading
I think it may be time for me to alter the format of these articles. The more profitable trend, if acted upon every week, would be taking the road team to cover when visiting a team playing in front of an empty stadium. Below are all Week 7 matchups that fit the bill, and man am I crazy for loving just about all of them?
Cowboys (+1) at Washington
Bills (-13.5) at Jets
Panthers (+7.5) at Saints
Seahawks (-3.5) at Cardinals
49ers (+1.5) at Patriots
Jaguars (+7.5) at Rams
Bucs (-4) at Raiders
Bears (+6) at Rams
I’m particularly drawn to the Bills, Panthers, Seahawks, Bucs and Bears from the slate above. To reiterate, road teams playing in empty stadiums are covering 62% of the time. That’s the money-making trend in my eyes and I’ll be turning my focus towards it for Week 7.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @griffybets for all things NFL bets. We’ll be back next week to see how this went, see you then.