It pays to bet teams on travel. One of the most common talking points you will hear this NFL season is the decline in home-field advantage. Through four weeks, road teams have covered the spread in 57% of games. There are several explanations for why the playing field is leveled for visiting teams. Whether it's the use of replay allowing officials to step away from the emotion of the moment or organizations optimizing the travel experience for their players. The results are evident. Teams are getting better at performing on the road each year.
They have also improved the way they approach consecutive road games. Teams file scheduling requests to have their long-distance games connected to avoid traveling back and forth. I would typically circle these spots on the schedule each year looking to take advantage of a team that was fatigued from travel. This season, it's the home teams that are taking the losses.
Visiting teams on the second leg of back-to-back road games are 11-2 ATS. Four weeks is a tiny sample size, but it's fair to question how much of a disadvantage this is for teams in 2021. If the betting market is slightly adjusting for challenging travel situations, it may not be warranted. There are four games in Week 5 featuring teams on their second consecutive road game. Here are the three that provide the biggest edges.
Cleveland Browns +1 at LA Chargers
The Chargers are coming off an emotional Monday night win against a divisional rival. Now they face their toughest test on short rest. The Browns defense held a Vikings team that was averaging 29 points per game to a single touchdown in front of their home crowd. It was the Vikings' lowest point since September 2019.
Good defenses travel well and Cleveland's is the NFL's best-kept secret. Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield get the headlines, but the Browns rank second in yards per play allowed and third in sack percentage. Justin Herbert has been great under pressure, but Myles Garrett is a different animal. This is a great spot to bet the Browns to grind out another road victory.
NY Giants +7 at Dallas Cowboys
The Giants are coming off an outright win in the same spot as a seven-point road underdog last week. We know that Dak Prescott is going to score points with this Cowboys offense. Dallas averages over 30 points per game and shredded Carolina's No.1 ranked defense last week.
The Giants can keep this one close. Daniel Jones is coming off a 400-yard performance and has the Giants offense ranked in the top 10 in yards per play. The Dallas defense is vulnerable to the run, allowing 4.7 yards per rush. That's music to Jason Garrett's and Dave Gettleman's ears. I don't think Joe Judge can pull off another upset win, but this will be competitive enough to bring us home the cover. Give me the big divisional underdog.
Tennessee Titans -4 at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Titans closed as 5.5-point favorites to the Colts and easily covered just two weeks ago. Even factoring in the injuries to the receiving corps, it's hard to justify that the Titans aren't four points better than a Jaguars team that was 7.5-point underdogs to the Bengals.
Tennessee is coming off their worst performance of the year while the Jaguars are off their best. It's the perfect buy-low sell-high situation and I am on the Titans. Urban Meyer's distractions aren't helping a young team searching for leadership. It's always one step forward, two steps back for the Jaguars. The Jacksonville defense ranks 23rd in rushing success rate allowed. Let's grab the Titans on a short line and bet on Derrick Henry to bulldoze his way to a big Titans win.