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What Happens When Favorites Flip In Football

We use the term “Favorite Flip” to define when a team that opened up as the Favorite, closed as the Underdog.

For example, if Team X opened as a 1.5 point Underdog then closed as a 1 point Favorite, it would fit the “Favorite Flip” situation.  In this example, the Line Movement would be -2.5 point, meaning the Line went down 2.5 points from where it opened.

Just so our users know, as you page through the games on our detail screen, “Favorite Flips” are easy to spot.  In the header for each game, we show the Open and Current Favorite by Away or Home team.  Whenever the Opening Favorite is not equal to the Current Favorite, we highlight this important piece of information as shown below.

This week there are three games that meet the “Favorite Flip” criteria.


UCONN opened up as a 1 point Favorite over Vandy, and is now a 2 point Dog.


Atlanta opened at anywhere from a Pick to a 1 point Favorite against the Bears, and now find themselves a 3 point Dog.

The Colts were a 1 point Favorite versus the Texans, and are now as much as a 9 point Underdog.

  • It is worth noting that we would omit the Colts game from consideration in the “Favorite Flip” scenario, since the massive line movement is attributable to the Manning injury.

There are varying schools of thought on whether there is value in going with, or against the Line Move.

GreyMatterStats looked at all college and professional football games over the last five years for the “Favorite Flip” criteria to see if there was any discernible advantage when handicapping these types of games.

For comparative purposes, in addition to the “Favorite Flip” statistics, we also have created a “Baseline Group”, which consists of all games that were not “Favorite Flips”.

The findings are worth looking at specifically for the NFL, where historically there have been some strong trends in these situations.

Some Observations for the NCAAF Data In Regards To The Favorite Flip Situation: 

  • Overall there appears to be no strong advantage in either going with or against the Line Move
  • ATS – There is a slight advantage for Home Favorites with a success rate of 54.0% , 4.5% better than the norm
  • ML – Just a note, it is to be expected that “Favorite Flip” Dogs outperform the Baseline Group – Most of these games would fall into a Line Range of 1-3 Points, meaning an expectation of close games and more Dogs winning outright than the Baseline Group
  • Totals – When the Away Team is favored, the Over has been 55.8%, 7.0% better than the norm

Some Observations for the NFL Data In Regards To The Favorite Flip Situation: 

  • ATS – Home Teams, regardless if they were the closing Favorite or Underdog, were 59.1%, 11.1% better than the norm
  • ATS – Home Favorites were 60.0%, 12.7% better than the norm
  • ATS – Where there was an Away Favorite, the Underdog was 58.8%, 9.2% better than the norm
  • ML – Where there was a Home Favorite, the Favorite was 70.0%, 3.3% better than the norm – This is contrary to all the other ML data points, in that with “Favorite Flip” situations, typically the Line Range would be  1-3 Points, meaning an expectation of close games with more Dogs winning outright than the Baseline Group
  • Totals – When the Away Team is favored, the Under has been 55.9%, 8.2% better than the norm
  • Totals – When the Home Team is favored, the Over has been 70.0%, 18.6% better than the norm

We hope you find the data an asset to your handicapping and please visit our free site, GreyMatterStats, where we put this information at your fingertips.

If you find something of interest that you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment or Tweet us  @GreyMatterStats

Please note that:

  • The data consists of five years rolling history that we display on our site GreyMatterStats.
  • All pushes were excluded from the data.
  • The term Advantage simply means where the test group has outperformed the Baseline group – It does not necessarily indicate a strong play.
  • In games that closed as a Pick, for our purposes the Home Team was the Favorite.
  • On the Excel Web App toolbar of embedded spreadsheet, if you click the right-most button, View Full Size Workbook, the entire workbook will open for viewing in a new window

In the embedded Excel workbooks below,  you will find the following worksheets for both the NCAAF and the NFL

  1. BY_FAVORITE_DOG_TOTAL – Results by Group Type
  2. BY_FAVORITE_TYPE – Results by Group Type/Favorite Type
  3. BY_AWAY_HOME – Group Type by Away-Home
  4. BY_LINE_MOVEMENT – Results By Line Movement

NCAAF DATA                                            NFL DATA


  1. Guest
    September 16, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Interesting information. Definitely something to look at this week. Over has hit 70.0% of the time when the home team is favored. Good to know.

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