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Home Spread vs. Away Spread: How much is it worth?

Home-field advantage is thought to be a huge difference-maker in sports, with teams expected to win more than they lose at home. But in sports betting, the value of home-field advantage is often debated. The question for sports bettors is just how much home-field advantage is worth and what to think about when handicapping home teams and away teams when betting on football.

Value of home-field advantage

It is often said that home-field advantage is worth three points when the point spread is created for a football game. But there is no set value for home-field advantage for a football team, thanks to the fact that home-field advantage can be very different from team to team throughout any football league. For example, the Seattle Seahawks are known for having a raucous home crowd, while the Washington Football Team might have empty seats at some of their games.

Instead of attempting to assign a flat value to home-field advantage across the game of football, it is up to bettors to determine what the value is for each individual team. This can be done in a number of ways, with the most rudimentary way being comparing the statistics of teams at home against their stats on the road. Bettors with knowledge of spreadsheet software can formulate statistical models that can help them predict the differences between a team’s performance at home and on the road.

Thinking Bigger Picture

To help determine what value being at home or on the road carries, bettors must also think bigger picture than trying to assign a point value to home and road games. Not all home or road games are created equally, as some home or road games offer more favorable circumstances than others. An oft-overlooked example of this comes in the form of travel during road trips for football teams.

When a team from the West coast travels East for a road game, bettors often overvalue the travel from the West to the East for that one game. But if a team from the West coast has two straight games out East, they may have to travel back to their facility in between those games. That additional travel could be more impactful than it would be in a single game, making the second road game a spot to bet against that team.

More Value Than Home and Away

There are two components to a football game that are more valuable than home-field advantage or being on the road. Those components are matchups and the presence of injuries on the roster of a football team. After all, it doesn’t matter if a team is at home or on the road if they do not have their best players on the field due to injury.

The same can be said about matchups on the field heading into each football game. Home field advantage might be able to help a team at times in a game, but a home crowd cannot prevent a pass rusher from repeatedly getting through a porous offensive line. Just like everything else in football betting, bettors need to weigh every facet of a game instead of putting home-field advantage over what happens on the field itself.