Speaking in NFL terms, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just went deep.
Garden State online sports bettors as well as the New York Jets and Giants celebrate his announcement allowing full attendance at MetLife Stadium starting Friday. For the Jets and Giants, who share the venue, it was the legislative version of an 80-yard scoring bomb.
Nobody expected Murphy to take this one to the house. New Jersey online bettors merely hoped he’d work the ball up the field, slowly increasing capacity and allowing the “score,” the full opening of stadiums, to occur any time before the August preseason schedule.
But Murphy did not work the clock.
He crossed up the analysts and MetLife Stadium jumps from zero spectators to 82,500. The Giants and Jets join the Philadelphia Eagles, who obtain authorization to allow Lincoln Financial Field sellouts beginning June 12, in regaining full fan support.
The Garden State teams wasted no time high-fiving the governor.
The Jets and Giants released a joint statement regarding stadium capacity at MetLife Stadium for the 2021 season:
Those who enjoy NFL betting at NJ sportsbooks can officially gauge home-field advantage into projected win totals and individual-game wagers, especially for the Giants, Jets, and Eagles.
Murphy continues baffling the analysts
Last summer, he imposed what was considered draconian measures limiting indoor dining throughout the state. While business owners howled, Murphy cited COVID-19 positivity rates for keeping them on the brink of collapse.
And now comes the opposite. Aided by the administration of the vaccine, he opened the New Jersey stadium earlier than anticipated.
The Eagles had been on a more realistic schedule all along. Pennsylvania law enabled an opening to 50% last week and full capacity on June 12. This allows a more gradual transformation from no fans to no empty seats.
They anticipate all 67,594 seats filled for their home games this season. The team had no fans at Lincoln Financial Field in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Pennsylvania’s gradual easing also impacted the Phillies, who have gone from roughly 8,000 fans for the season opener to the ability for a full house when they host the New York Yankees on June 12.)
Handicapping value of NFL home games
It didn’t take long for Eagles fans to circle Sept. 19, when they host the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener. NJ online bettors already had it marked, but the full attendance creates a handicapping wrinkle.
Time to think of crowd impact on the point spreads, total points, halves, and quarters.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, considers stadium-opening moves a “watch and adjust” situation.
But some early observations are prevalent.
“The home field is very strong to a good team and case in point, the Kansas City Chiefs are very strong at home, I think it’s actually four points to them,” Avello told PlayNJ. “Seattle is probably a four also.
“You can see how the really good teams take advantage of it. Look at the Green Bay Packers, 7-1 at home last year, Kansas City at 6-2. The home field makes a difference.”
Home field edge has less of an impact for the Giants, Jets, and Eagles odds in current climates. All have benefitted from passionate home support in past years. But their recent teams have not been good.
This move figures to help.
“I would say right now that Philadelphia is two and a half points,” Avello said regarding the home edge. “The Giants and Jets might actually be two. If you are a bad team, the home edge helps you some. You gain something, but not as much as the teams who perform well.”
It seems like light years ago, but the Jets had a winning home record (5-3 in 2019). They also slid to 1-7 without fans in 2020. Sadly for them, the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Jets and Giants in back-to-back MetLife games last season, had more stadium victories than the Jets.
The Giants were 2-6 at home in 2019 and 3-5 last year.
The Eagles were 3-4-1 at home last season and finished with a 4-11-1 overall record.
They were 5-3 in 2019.
What about those new NFL stadiums?
Another significant home-field edge application could involve the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Chargers, all playing in new stadiums. The global pandemic shut off attendance during their opening seasons.
Their home-field performance is unproven.
NFL bettors are salivating to see how well the Raiders play at Allegiant Stadium, a football venue in the city that made brick-and-mortar sportsbooks famous. It’s domed, so picture that setup with noise. It’s always been huge for the New Orleans Saints.
Eagles players will see this first hand. They travel to Las Vegas for an Oct. 24 matchup against the Raiders, who were 2-6 at home without fans last year
SoFi Stadium hosts the Chargers and Rams. It will also be the site of the Super Bowl next season. For fans and bettors, SoFi stadium at optimum noise is a symbol of COVID-19 retreating to the rear-view mirror.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens there because we haven’t experienced it yet,” Avello said. “Either way, there is going to be an impact on the betting.”
The Chargers, for example, are an enigma. In San Diego, they were unable to shake the distinction of being a weak home favorite. Bettors lined up against them at home and shifted directions on the road.
But this team is getting better and full attendance may mean a one or two-game difference win-total difference.
Throughout the country, “normal” is beckoning.
And the bettors can’t wait.