You know what's great about NFL betting? (Well, one thing that's great about NFL betting.) That, as Tom Petty once crooned, even the losers get lucky sometimes. Judging NFL teams' performance Against The Spread (ATS) can be far more illustrative of their seasons.
For example, the Chicago Bears' Cinderella story of last season -- until the doink-doink, that is -- was reflected in the team's league-best 12-5 win-loss record ATS. To this point in the 2019 NFL season, the leader on the ATS standings board is the Buffalo Bills at 8-3-1; going into week 14, the Bills appear poised to be the lone truly surprising playoff team.
Rounding out the top 7 are the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams at 8-4 ATS, along with the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals each at 7-4-1 ATS. With the exception of the Rams, this half-dozen has also exceeded expectations to a measurable degree, i.e. wins against the spread.
(Incidentally, a further oddity within the 2019 Rams season is the team's insane 6-1 ATS in games outside of Los Angeles.)
Looking at the NFL through bettors’ eyes can even make the execrable NFC East look good -- well ... better, anyway. These four teams are a pathetic 10-26 SU (a .278 winning percentage) combined against the league's 28 other teams. Against the spread, though, they're 15-21 (.417)!
Okay, we tried.
NFLbets’ roundup of week 13 results with scores adjusted for point spreads runs below; scores marked in bold indicate those games in which the SU and ATS result differed.
• Chicago Bears 24 at Detroit Lions 22
• Buffalo Bills 26 at Dallas Cowboys 8½
• New Orleans Saints 26 at Atlanta Falcons 25. Hope you killed it on Thanksgiving like NFLbets did, despite the anomaly of all three away teams winning ATS.
• Houston Texans 28, New England Patriots 18½.
• Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Cleveland Browns 12. Those of you already looking at playoff props take note: Pittsburgh is now looking at a four-game stretch which includes three games away, where they’re 2-3 SU (1-4 ATS). Meanwhile, the Patriots, as though desperately needing a break from the league, have three of four at home to close out the season.
• Tennessee Titans 30 at Indianapolis Colts 17. One more time: Don’t bet these AFC South games – unless you’re taking the under in a Jaguars game.
• Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 at Jacksonville Jaguars 11. Like we said. Also, has anyone informed the Jacksonville front office and/or medical staff that the Jaguars have, likesay, zero chance at making a run at this thing and thus have no need to rush back Nick “Miracle Worker” Foles in 2019? Come on now…
• Cincinnati Bengals 22, New York Jets 3½. The Jets put together three consecutive 34-point games against bad or fading teams (the Giants, Washington, Oakland/Las Vegas) before managing a whopping 6 at home against the heretofore winless Bengals. Time to get off that bandwagon, NFL bettors.
• Green Bay Packers 27½ at New York Giants 13. Likewise, did anyone put good money down on the Giants in this one? Next time, just send it to Os Davis c/o this website, mmmkay?
• Los Angeles Rams 31½ at Arizona Cardinals 7. Insanely enough, as the Seahawks took the lead in the NFC West, they also helped keep the Rams in the race for the final playoff spot. What should make NFL bettors verrrrrrrrry hesitant to bet on the Rams the rest of the way – aside from Jared Goff, of course – is that 6-1 ATS record away from L.A.; two of the four games remaining are away, and NFLbets is expecting them to lose both ATS.
• San Francisco 49ers 17 at Baltimore Ravens 14. Here’s another great thing about NFL betting: Hilarity often ensues in the closing seconds of nearly any game with a score within a couple TDs’ worth of scoring differential.
If you bet on the 49ers +3½ or more, you spent over 59 minutes pulling for San Francisco … until Justin Tucker lined up for a FG to break the 17-17 tie. At that point, your allegiance suddenly shifted to the Ravens so that the game ends on a Ravens SU win but ATS loss.
Meanwhile, if you had the Ravens -3½ or more, your former backing of the Ravens was just as quickly blown away when Tucker trotted out. At 17-17, the only way your bet had a chance of hitting was for Tucker to botch the field goal attempt, have the game go into overtime and the Ravens win by a touchdown.
• Kansas City Chiefs 28½, Oakland Raiders 9. Don’t give up on the Raiders sneaking into the AFC playoffs just yet: They’re 6-1 SU against sub-.500 teams, and three of the last four (vs Jacksonville, at Chargers, at Denver) are also against losing teams. Hold up the crossout pen for just one more week – Chucky & Co. are at Tennessee for week 14.
• Miami Dolphins 37, Philadelphia Eagles 20½. Same goes for the Eagles: a 7-9 record is all that’s necessary to win. Thus, the division could be decided – no matter who wins – in the week 16 Dallas at Philadelphia and week 17 Washington at Dallas games.
• Washington 29 at Carolina Panthers 9½. That’s right, sports fans: Washington could still win this freakin’ thing with a 4-0 run. Considering they get the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys in the final four weeks … geez, this NFC East is absolutely brutal.
• Denver Broncos 23, San Diego Chargers 15½
• Seattle Seahawks 34, Minnesota Vikings 30. The teams with the biggest imagined home field advantages are ones for NFL bettors to watch coming down the stretch. The Broncos who, crazily enough, have posted the second-worst home record ATS over the past 15 years, are a big 5-1 ATS at home in 2019. Seattle, on the other hand, entered this season with the second-best home record, yet earned their first home win in this game. At this point in the year, NFLbets is definitely expecting these numbers to regress to the mean…
–written by Os Davis
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