Expert NFL Handicapping: Teams that Could Be Worse ATS in 2017
There are 32 teams in the NFL, and only 14 of them were profitable against the spread over the course of the whole season last year. Needless to say, it is tough for teams to consistently grow the bankrolls of bettors. We can't know with any certainty which teams will be profitable - though we are certainly working hard to figure it out. What I do know without any hesitation at all, though, is that all 14 teams that were profitable last year won't be profitable this year. Some will but far from all.
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Here's a look at the four teams from among those 14 that seem poised to be less financially productive than they were last year:
New England Patriots (13-3 ATS last year): The fact that the Patriots went 13-3 ATS last year as a 14-2 squad that is wildly public is the most impressive thing they accomplished - even more than the second half of the Super Bowl. Such an accomplishment should be impossible, but it is just a sign of how incredibly good this team was and how rigidly disciplined and focused they were.
While I still really like the team, and have no issue with the idea of them as Super Bowl favorite again, it is just common sense to assume that they will fall from these incredible heights at least somewhat. Expectations are, if anything, even higher this year after the season they had and because Tom Brady is healthy and available from the start of the season. I fully expect them to run away with the AFC East - by default as usual - and likely the AFC.
But the spreads aren't going to get any smaller, and it will be tough for them to keep this ridiculous pace of spread covering up. It would be different if they were consistently an outstanding team to bet on, but they were just 7-7-2 ATS in 2015, and last year was definitely an anomaly. They will be a great team but just not as great to bettors.
New Orleans Saints (11-5 ATS): Last year the team was just 7-9 but managed to cover 11 spreads. That kind of difference between wins and covers just isn't sustainable. Four of their covered spreads were covered by a margin of 1.5 points or fewer, so they weren't exactly dominating - they were just barely doing enough.
I don't see this team improving dramatically from last year, and I don't believe that much more than luck was involved in their betting performance last year, so it only makes sense that they aren't going to be nearly what they were last year - the second-best betting team in the league - a second time around.
And then there is the fact that Drew Brees is 38-years-old. He and Tom Brady look like they could both play forever, but sooner or later he will decline, and when he does it will hit the betting performance of this team very hard.
Oakland Raiders (10-6 ATS): Last year the Raiders came into the season as plucky upstarts, and though bad luck hit them at the end of the season and in the playoffs they were one of the great stories of the season.
This year, though, things are different. Derek Carr is a very rich man. Marshawn Lynch has brought a bright spotlight with him. This team has huge expectations on its shoulders, and it won't be sneaking up on anyone.
The public is paying more attention, and spreads will reflect that. I am still reasonably high on this team, but it would be no surprise at all to see them cost bettors money in the long term this year.
Miami Dolphins (9-7 ATS): Two words - Jay Cutler. I don't think Cutler got fair treatment from the press a lot of the time in Chicago - especially in 2015 when he was really quite good. And last year his struggles can't be entirely blamed on him - that team was a total mess, and anyone would struggle in such a spot.
That being said, I am hugely pessimistic about him in Miami this year. For starters, he had committed mentally to retiring, so I find it hard to believe that he will be effective moving back into the realm of the active. I also doubt he is physically as ready as he should be, and he certainly won't have chemistry with his new teammates like he should.
And beyond Cutler the team didn't have a great offseason and is going to struggle to be as good as they were last year when they won 10 games - even if Cutler does perform at the high end of potential.
I will be quite surprised if this team is close to profitable.
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