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What Is A Backdoor Cover?

October 21, 2021
Eagles backdoor cover

As we prepare for another week of NFL football, we take a look back at last Thursday’s primetime game to help us explain a concept familiar to most experienced bettors. If you’ve been around enough, you’ve probably been on both ends of the backdoor cover. 

For those not as experienced, what exactly is a backdoor cover? 

Backdoor Cover Defined

A backdoor cover occurs when you have an underdog that is trailing the favorite by a margin greater than the point spread. Late in the game, the underdog scores what are deemed meaningless points that ultimately cover the point spread. 

Points scored late in a game are typically meaningless when they do not affect the outcome of a game. They are, however, important to bettors for the backdoor cover may give a bettor a winning ticket.

Philadelphia-Tampa Bay Example

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered last Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia as a seven-point favorite. The Bucs jumped out to a 14-7 first quarter lead thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady. 

The defending Super Bowl champions extended that lead to 28-7 late in third quarter on two touchdown runs from Leonard Fournette. Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts scored on a six-yard run near the end of the third quarter to make the score 28-14.

Here’s where things got interesting. If you bet on the Eagles to cover the seven-point spread (+7), you might have hung it up and went to bed, grumbling the entire way. Holding a two-touchdown lead with less than six minutes to play, who would have thought…

Then, Hurts and the Eagles struck again. Hurts scores with 5:54 left in the game and, instead of kicking the extra point, the Eagles go for two. Hurts completes a pass to Quez Watkins cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 28-22. 

Brady and Bucs would take the ensuing kickoff and take 12 plays to eat up the remaining time. Brady took a knee at the Eagles eight-yard line on the final play. Final score: Tampa Bay 28, Philadelphia 22. 

The final six-point margin gave anybody that bet on the Eagles to cover the win aka the backdoor cover. In the end, Hurts touchdown late in the fourth quarter meant nothing to the outcome of the game, but it meant a payout to Eagles backers.

Underdogs Only

When we talk about the backdoor cover, we are talking about underdogs only. It’s implied by “sneaking in the backdoor” that the underdog is sneaking in a cover late in a game. 

A favorite could do the same. The favorite could score a meaningless touchdown late in a game to cover a spread, but the favorite was expected by many to cover. That’s not really that sneaky. Remember, a backdoor cover only refers to underdogs. Sportsbooks are usually fond of backdoor covers since the public usually leans toward betting the favorite, especially on marquee games.