NFL Betting: Ranking the NFL Divisions
by Trevor Whenham - 10/09/2008
One of the big stories so far this NFL season has been the power of the NFC East. All four teams look like they have playoff potential, and they have already served notice that they will be beating each other up all year. If you had to pick a conference that was going to provide the eventual Super Bowl winner, you'd be hard pressed to find one more compelling than this one. But how about from a betting perspective? That's what we're all here for, right? Which divisions are the best and the worst for bettors so far this season. Here's a look at the eight groupings in order from best to worst treatment of bettors:
NFC South - 10-3-1 ATS outside the division - This group may not be getting the headlines that others are, but they sure are getting it done at the betting window. This is the only one of the eight divisions in which all four teams are profitable ATS. The Bucs lead the way at 4-1 ATS, the second best mark in the league behind Tennessee. A big part of the reason for this betting success is neither mysterious nor particularly flashy - no other group is better at winning their games at home.
NFC East - 8-3 ATS outside the division - The media loves these guys, but the bookmakers don't so far this year. It's particularly impressive that this division is doing as well as they are given that the public is all over at least two of these teams every chance they get. The most public of the teams, Dallas, is the only one that hasn't made money on the year - in part because they haven't covered in division in two tries. The Redskins, at 4-1 ATS, are both playing well and clearly exceeding expectations.
AFC East - 6-5 ATS outside the division - This is the last of the profitable conferences, and they are just barely there. Strangely, though, Buffalo is the only profitable team in the group. The other three are all at 2-2 ATS - just as mediocre at the window as they are on the field. Though the Dolphins aren't profitable ATS, they have been very kind to people who have backed them on the money line - they've won their last two, and both have been as significant dogs.
AFC South - 4-4 ATS outside the division - This group is tied with the next one, but they get the slight nod here because of the Titans. Tennessee is the betting star of the league. They are 5-0 ATS, and they are making it look easy - they have covered four of their five games by at least 10 points. The rest of the division has been fairly disastrous, though. None more so than Jacksonville, a team that has ridden high preseason hopes and a pile of offensive line woes to a dismal 1-4 ATS mark. Only Detroit and St. Louis have been worse to bettors - not the kind of company that the Jags were looking to keep.
AFC North - 4-4 ATS outside the division - Thanks to the not-as-bad-as-expected play of Joe Flacco, Baltimore is leading the way in this division at 3-1 ATS. They've been consistent to bettors, too - their only non-cover was against Tennessee, and it was very close. The impressive thing here is that the two teams from Ohio are just 4-5 ATS. Given how awful they have been you might think that they would be faring worse. I guess the sad truth of those numbers is that they are teams that are just slightly worse than people thought they would be. Ouch.
AFC West - 3-6 ATS outside the division - There is not a lot positive to say about this group from a betting perspective. All of them have been dismal. Denver is perhaps the most frustrating of all at 1-3-1. Their offense is working as well as any, but there defense is so non-existent that, despite their solid 4-1 record, they have been able to blow covers that they seemed to have in the bag. Kansas City hasn't been kind to bettors, either, but anyone who bets on them regularly this year probably deserves to lose their cash.
NFC North - 4-8-1 ATS outside the division - With the possible exception of Chicago, the teams in this division have made an art of underachieving so far this year. It's no surprise, then, that they have been dismal for bettors. The Packers fooled bettors with two strong games to start the year, but they have burned money since. Minnesota was lousy in their first two games, but they may be showing signs of life, with wins and covers in two of their last three. The Lions are so bad it is scary, and haven't even come close to a cover.
NFC West - 3-9 ATS outside the division - It's probably fitting that the weakest division in the league is also the worst for bettors. Things are especially bleak when you consider that Arizona is actually profitable at 3-2 ATS. That doesn't say much for the rest of the bunch. St. Louis is probably beyond hope. Seattle has had all sorts of injury problems to point to for their struggles, but I'm not sure that that entirely explains their terrible problems traveling to the Eastern Time Zone. San Francisco started out 2-1 ATS, but has struggled in their last pair.