Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, one trend is clear: good teams are covering. This isn't always the case given lines are set with the idea of making each matchup a 50-50 proposition (so the bookies collect on the juice). But when it comes to the Vikings, Cowboys, Patriots and Falcons--division leaders all-the spread has been but a minor hindrance. Led by Minnesota's perfect start to the season, that quartet is a combined 20-3 both straight up and against the number.
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When it comes to the worst NFL teams against the spread, it's a near mirror-image. The cellar-dwelling 49ers, Panthers and Bears are each 1-5 both straight up and versus the number. Joining that trio as the worst bets in football through six weeks are the Bengals (1-4-1 ATS) and the Jets (1-4-1 ATS).
Best NFL Teams Against the Spread
Minnesota Vikings (5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS; ATS Streak: 5W)
Next Up: (-2) at Philadelphia
After enjoying their bye week as the last of the NFL's undefeateds, it's back to work for the Vikings. This week they travel to Philly for a stiff road test against the Eagles (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS). Minnesota's perfect start has come despite having the 30th-ranked offense in the NFL. This seeming anomaly can occur when you boast what's arguably the best defense in the league. Minnesota has allowed a league-low 12.6 PPG this season while allowing opponents just 77.8 YPG on the ground. Even better, the Vikings defense also has a knack for putting points on the board.
It's a winning formula in Minnesota: mistake-free offensive play and dominant defense. Of course, the Vikings aren't going 16-0 against the spread this season. There will be some road bumps. Will the week off cut into the Minnesota momentum? It's certainly possible. A win and cover here would be a huge result for the Vikings.
Dallas Cowboys (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS; ATS Streak: 5W)
Next Up: Bye
The Cowboys enter their bye week with both guns blazing. Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott continue to exceed expectations as has a defense that ranks 10th against the run (92.2 YPG) and seventh in points allowed (17.8 PPG). In an obvious decision, the Dallas brass announced Prescott will remain the starter following the bye week when the Cowboys host the Eagles in a key NFC East matchup. Much like with Minnesota, the question for Dallas now is what effect the bye will have on their immense momentum. One reason for optimism is coach Jason Garrett is 3-2 ATS following a bye during his tenure with the Cowboys.
Others: New England Patriots (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS, ATS Streak: 2W), Atlanta Falcons (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS; ATS Streak: 5W)
Worst NFL Teams Against the Spread
San Francisco 49ers (1-5 SU, 1-5 ATS; ATS Streak: 2L)
Next Up: (+2.5) vs. Tampa Bay
Coach Chip Kelly has pretty much conceded the priority for the remainder of the season is identifying players for next year. It's audition time in San Francisco, meaning wins are likely to be few and far between over the final 10 weeks.
In the 49ers 45-16 pummeling by the Bills last week, Colin Kaepernick again showed he is nothing more than a below-average quarterback, even in what most would consider Kelly's tailor-made offensive system. Kap will get the call again this week as Kelly indicated he saw some things to build on in that first start. We'll see.
Carolina Panthers (1-5 SU, 1-5 ATS; ATS Streak: 4L )
Next Up: Bye
It's been a heck of a fall for last year's NFC champions. Cam Newton went into full-on pout mode following last week's 41-38 loss to the Saints, which is all-too-common and never a good look for the reigning MVP and team leader. Newton's "woe-is-us" attitude is utterly unprofessional and certainly no way to rally the troops. Of course, the Panthers started 1-4 last season and were able to get things together in a big way. However, there's a big difference from being the hunter to the hunted.
The bye couldn't have come at a better time for Panthers. After the break, they will host Arizona in what figures as a make-or-break game for Carolina.
Others: Chicago Bears (1-5 SU, 1-5 ATS; ATS Streak: 2L), Cincinnati Bengals (2-4 SU, 1-4-1 ATS; ATS Streak: 2L), New York Jets (1-5 SU, 1-4-1 ATS; ATS Streak: 4L)
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