NFL Betting: Best and Worst Against the Spread
by Trevor Whenham - 10/29/2008
We are halfway through the NFL season, give or take. This is a good time, then, for us to take a look at the teams that are being particularly kind to bettors, and those that are soaking the money bet on them in gas and lighting a match. Here, then, is a look at the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
Tennessee (7-0 ATS) - Despite the Vince Young issue, this team is tearing the league apart. It doesn't seem that the bettors have jumped entirely on the bandwagon, because this team is a covering machine. What is remarkable about these guys so far is that they aren't just covering spreads, they are decimating them - in five of the seven games they have covered the spread by at least 10 points.
N.Y. Giants (5-2 ATS) - There are two teams on this list so far, and both have exceeded the expectations of most people this season. No a coincidence that they have done well ATS. The two games they have failed to cover have both been against teams from Ohio. I'm not sure what that means, but for what it's worth they don't play any more Ohio squads this year.
Arizona (5-2 ATS) - With the exception of their last game against Carolina, this is a team that has been covering spreads by significant margins. The key to the success here has to be, in large part, that Kurt Warner has been far better than anyone could have imagined coming into the season.
Baltimore (5-2 ATS) - A big part of the reason Baltimore has done well is that they have played some bad teams, and some decent teams in a funk - Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, Oakland. The second half of their season is a bit tougher, so they could struggle to reward bettors as well.
Philadelphia (5-2 ATS) - The Eagles may not quite be living up to expectations, but they have done well by bettors. Looking at the schedule, the one thing that sticks out glaringly is that the Eagles are 0-2 against their division, and 1-1 ATS in those games. With four more divisional games on the way this could be a problem.
Cleveland (5-2 ATS) - I was surprised to see the recently resurgent Browns this high on the list. Part of what has helped the Browns is that they have yet to be the favorites this season. Being an underdog and losing close games is a good way to make bettors happy.
Houston (2-5 ATS) - A lot of people seemed to think the Texans were a possible wild card team. The last few weeks they have looked like it, but at the start of the year they were brutal. They obviously have failed to meet bettors' expectations.
Jacksonville (2-5 ATS) - Speaking of teams that have failed to live up to expectations - the Jaguars were supposed to be winning their division, not self-destructing. They have only been underdogs twice, and those are the only two games they have covered.
Minnesota (2-5 ATS) - Notice a trend - here's a third team that is playing far worse than people thought. This was a trendy Super Bowl pick, but the Vikings have proven to be inept.
Detroit (2-5 ATS) - What is shocking is not that the Lions are just 2-5 ATS, but rather that they have somehow managed to cover two games. This is one lousy team. Interestingly, the two lines they have covered have been their two biggest spreads of the season.
San Francisco (2-6 ATS) - This team started the season 2-1 straight up and ATS, but then the wheels fell right off. I believed in this team at the start of the year, so that collapse is a bit personally painful. They haven't covered a game in five weeks, and unless something changes quickly it might be a while yet.
Cincinnati (2-6 ATS) - This is another truly lousy team that has only managed to cover their two biggest spreads. Things are getting worse for this team - in the last two weeks they have failed to cover by 19 and 20 points, even though they were nine point underdogs in both cases.
Denver (1-5-1 ATS) - Of interest, the worst team on the list of the worst teams is the only one with a winning record. It's no mystery why this team has been so rough on bettors. They started the season with an explosive tour de force against Oakland, and they scored more than 30 points in each of the first three games. Then their offense cooled down, their defense was ridiculously bad, and the public was blinded by the hopes that their offense would wake up.