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What is a Backdoor Cover?

by January 6, 2022
What is a Backdoor Cover?

The backdoor cover is an infamous and integral part of sports betting. It’s awesome to watch your bet sneak through the back door in the final moments of a game, but losing via the backdoor cover is one of the worst feelings in sports betting. I’ll cover what a backdoor cover is, how it happens, and some examples of backdoor covers.

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What is a backdoor cover?

A backdoor cover is when a team scores late in a game to cover the spread but not affect the outright winner of the game. Backdoor covers are most common with underdogs but can happen with favorites as well and are referred to by some as “frontdoor covers.”

How does a backdoor cover occur?

For a team to cover the spread through the backdoor, they need to score late in the game, the outright winner can not be in question, and the score needs to flip the team from not covering the game’s spread to then covering it. For example, the spread of a football game is fourteen points, and the favorite is winning by 17 points with 30 seconds remaining. The underdog scores a touchdown to cut the deficit to 10. That means the underdog snuck through the backdoor for a backdoor cover because they scored a meaningless touchdown regarding the outright winner of the game but covered the spread. In the case of a favorite getting a frontdoor cover, let’s say the game’s spread is 10 points, the favorite has the ball, and is winning by seven points with 30 seconds remaining. They score a touchdown to make it a fourteen-point game and cover the spread. The score didn’t impact the outright winner but affected the winner against the spread. Backdoor covers are often referred to as “bad beats” if you are on the losing side but are thrilling if you are on the winning side.

Examples of backdoor covers

In Week 12 of the 2020 NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks were 6.5 point favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Seahawks led by 14 points with 15 seconds remaining. Carson Wentz threw up a prayer into a crowd in the Seahawks’ endzone, and Richard Rodgers hauled in the pass with one hand after it bounced off two other players. Doug Pederson decided to go for a two-point conversion after the touchdown, cutting the deficit to six. Both scores were meaningless for the outright winner but snuck the Eagles through the backdoor to cover the game in incredible fashion.

In a 2013 game between Ohio State and Northwestern, the Buckeyes were 5.5 point favorites. They trailed by 10 points late in the third quarter but stormed back to take a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 18 from their eight-yard line with five seconds remaining, Northwestern completed a 10-yard pass and began pitching the ball around in an attempt to come up with a miracle touchdown. After a misthrown lateral, the football ended up rolling into Northwestern’s endzone, and after bouncing through the hands of a few players, Ohio State recovered the ball for a touchdown to cover the 5.5 point spread.

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Jack O’Brien is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jack, check out his archive and follow him @JackOBrienNFL.

Betting 101, How-To