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What is a Backdoor Cover?

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One of the most heartbreaking — or exhilarating — occurrences in sports betting is the backdoor cover. This is when an underdog scores enough late to cover the spread, often when the game is already decided. The favored team is often playing lax defense, and those pesky upstarts manage to sneak in the back door and get enough points at the end in "garbage time" to cover.

This phenomenon cuts both ways. If you've bet on the favorite and are feeling great as they sport a big late lead, it can be devastating to see the team you bet against come back in the final minutes to hand you a bad beat. So close, yet so far! On the other hand, if you've bet on the losing team and they're getting blown out by more than you expected, an otherwise insignificant end to the game can become super intense as you enthusiastically cheer for the losers to cover the point spread.

Favorites can also rattle off a late score to cover through the back door. Let's look at two definitive examples from the NFL to better illustrate how this plays out in real time.

Underdog backdoor cover: Bengals vs. Browns, Week 2

This Thursday Night Football Battle of Ohio was Exhibit A for a backdoor cover. We even posted a suggestion to social media that bettors should pick up Cincinnati at +6 to cover against Cleveland. In a dizzying display of competence, the Browns actually played well and were rolling the outmatched Bengals from the start.

Enter: Joe Burrow. Heisman Trophy winner and national champion at LSU. The No. 1 overall draft pick. In his second NFL start on a short week, Burrow thrived despite being under siege all night. He marched Cincinnati down the field, capping a 16-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Boyd. After the extra point, the Bengals held on for a 35-30 loss to cover the spread by one point.

WHEW. Those who took Cleveland to cover had to be livid, but imagine the elation Joey B. created for Cincinnati cover bettors. Had the Bengals been able to stop the run, that last scoring drive may have been to win the game outright. Alas, it's probably going to be another year before Burrow and Co. truly compete for a playoff spot.

Favorite backdoor cover: Patriots vs. Bills, Week 8 in 2018

This was a fun one. Hat tip to SB Nation's Pats Pulpit for documenting what the spread was for this AFC East clash (New England -13.5).

The gritty Bills were starting Derek Anderson at quarterback, and their stout defense limited Tom Brady and the Pats to field goals through three quarters. Those who picked Buffalo +13.5 looked fine heading into the fourth quarter as New England clung to a 12-6 lead. Then, it all went horribly wrong for the Bills.

Buffalo bettors lucked out when the Pats failed a two-point conversion after James White's touchdown, which kept the score at 18-6. The cover bid was still intact with less than 10 minutes left. It looked even better when Anderson led the Bills to scoring range. That is, until veteran safety Devin McCourty stepped in front of an ill-fated Anderson throw across the middle, and took it 84 yards for a pick-six, as New England proceeded to win 25-6.

Anyone who bet on the heavily favored Pats to pull through were thrilled in witnessing this epic play. McCourty is a savvy player and clearly read where the mistake-prone Anderson wanted to go with the ball, much to the chagrin of Bills fans and those who picked them to cover the 13.5 points. Close, but no cigar.

So there you have it. Those are two prime examples of backdoor covers in game situations. For more on basic and advanced sports betting concepts, please visit our "How to Bet" hub to get yourself up to speed on everything you need to know to maximize your betting upside.

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Betting 101
What is a Moneyline?What is a Point Spread?What is a Total or Over/Under?What is a Futures bet?How to Read Betting OddsWhat is Parlay Betting?A Guide to Hedging BetsTypes of Horse BetsWhat does Pickem mean?What is a Backdoor Cover?5 Key Pieces of Sports Betting AdviceOdds Comparison EngineLegal Online SportsbookSports Betting GlossaryBetting Tips from the SharpsIn-Game Betting

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About AbePrivacy PolicyTerms of Service
© 2020 PopOdds inc. Reserved
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-Gambler. You must be 21 years or older to place a bet.