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The Inside Scoop on Home Dogs

   by Bryan Leonard - 12/20/2007

I was delighted to see money come in on the Broncos in their Thursday night game at Houston. Home dogs can often have extra incentive, and value, this time of the football season. Teams fighting for playoff berths can rise up and give a great effort in front of the home fans, even against a better team.

Other teams who are having bad seasons can rise up late in the year to give the fans one last victory, or at least a great effort, before they go on vacation. We saw that when the unbeaten Patriots went to Baltimore in a marquee Monday night meeting. As a 19-point home dog, the Ravens nearly won the game. That kind of effort wouldn’t be expected had the game been on the road (they are 1-5 SU, 0-6 ATS away from home).

In my analysis of the Broncos/Texans battle I noted, “Denver is a badly banged up team, one that is very different at home and away. Denver is 2-4 SU, 1-4-1 ATS on the road. The Broncos offense has badly missed WR Javon Walker, who missed his eighth game with a bad right knee. This defense is awful because of injuries, allowing 138 yards rushing per game, 29th in the league.

“They take on a Houston team that is coached by Gary Kubiak, who ran Mike Shanahan’s offense for 11 years. Kubiak made an impassioned plea for his leaders to elevate their performances to help the Texans upset the Buccaneers last week. "Coach challenged us, and the guys responded by doing what we needed to do to win," said WR Andre Johnson. They still have a postseason shot, and should be motivated again playing at home. Houston has an excellent young defensive line and they are outscoring opponents by a 25-19 average at home. Backup QB Sage Rosenfels has been sharp and the Texans are 2-0 SU/ATS in his two starts. Houston is 4-2 SU/3-2-1 ATS at home and should get it done again.â€쳌

It was never even in doubt in an impressive 31-13 Houston rout. The win gave the Texans a 7-7 record, still alive for a playoff slot, adding even more motivation. The Texans' running game was strong, as rookie Darius Walker started in place of the injured Ron Dayne and generated 66 yards on 13 carries. Dayne came off the bench to carry 11 times for 66 yards and a touchdown.

The offensive line played its best game of this season. Not only did the Texans rush for 158 yards and average 5.1 per carry, but quarterback Sage Rosenfels wasn't sacked. Rosenfels improved to 3-0 as a starter this season by completing 16-of-27 for 200 yards and a touchdown. Think they would have played as well in (freezing) Denver? Houston is 2-5 SU/ATS on the road.

Notice that a playoff team like San Diego is terrific at home this season (5-1 SU/ATS), but 3-4 SU/ATS on the road. Same for Tampa Bay, at 5-1 SU, 4-1-1 ATS at home, but 3-4 SU/ATS away. Pittsburgh is the starkest example, a perfect 7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS at home where they allow less than 10 ppg! But on the road, they are only 2-4 SU/ATS. The Browns also have a Wild Card chance and they are 5-1 SU/ATS at home, but have a losing road mark. That’s why when you see good teams favored on the road, look carefully at their road record and play. Perhaps, like Denver at Houston, they shouldn’t be favored.

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