2018 NFL Betting Tips: Predicting the Best ATS Teams This Year
Betting on the NFL is difficult. There are many unique words and phrases in the sports betting industry, but none of them are as prominently used as "good teams win, great teams cover." Unfortunately for those of us betting the games, teams don't care about whether they cover the spread or not. They are focused on winning the games and don't care at all about the lines. The point spread adds a degree of difficulty to an already-challenging task.
For example, I'm sure by now we are well aware that Philadelphia won the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots, 41-33. What I'm sure many of you don't know is that Philadelphia was also the best ATS team in the league, covering at a 68 percent clip (13-6). That combination of Super Bowl and ATS Champion doesn't happen as often as one would think given the variance in spreads through the course of the season, which is what makes last year's Eagles team so special. The next-best ATS teams from last year were: New England 12-7, Buffalo 10-6-1, Minnesota 11-7 and the New York Jets 9-6-1.
The main point of this article is to help you identify a handful of teams that could be ATS money-makers this year. You can use this list to fade them or avoid them completely. The choice is yours. These may just be predictions, but they are intended to be as accurate as possible given a team's strength of schedule, expectations and personnel.
Green Bay Packers
It should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the NFL that the Green
Bay Packers live and die with QB Aaron Rodgers. When healthy, Rodgers is
one of the best QBs in the league and is the driving force behind any deep
Packer playoff runs. Without Rodgers, the Packers are nothing more than a
middling team, and that was not more evident than last season. The Packers
finished just 7-9 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Green Bay also finished 7-9 ATS, which is also extremely mediocre. This
season, I expect Green Bay to be among the league's elite teams, which
should improve their ATS record. They have a healthy Aaron Rodgers back
under center, a trio of running backs at their disposal, and a dynamic set
of receivers. They also have three games against the AFC East's doormats in
the Jets, Bills and Dolphins. Anything short of an ATS cover in those games
would be an extreme disappointment. Look for the Packers to hit the 10 or
11 ATS win mark this year.
The Washington Redskins have a new quarterback under center and many of the same toys for him to use. Whether or not Alex Smith is an upgrade from the departed Kirk Cousins remains to be seen, but the fact that Washington is likely to improve on defense gives us ATS bettors hope for a better 2019 season. Much like the Packers, Washington finished last season with a 7-9 ATS record. They come into this season with four games against the AFC South -- a conference that is expected to regress this season. Anything short of a playoff game would make this season a bust, and so we expect the Redskins to be in the hunt right until Week 17. The Redskins figure to be an underdog in more than half of the 16 regular-season games, but they historically perform better when the pressure is off and they can play freely. Washington will improve their ATS mark this season -- it's just a matter of by how many games.
It's been a very long time since the Detroit Lions won a playoff game. The year was 1991, and since then they've lost eight wild-card games spanning the last 26 years. The year it figures to be much of the same for the Lions, but I do expect them to improve on their ATS mark of 8-7-1 from last year. Look, the Lions have a solid QB and very talented receivers. They are typically one of the higher-scoring offenses in the league, and it's been the defense that has been the team's crutch. That and the inability to run the football. However, this year should be different. They've revamped their defensive unit and have brought in a rookie RB who is expected to turn heads. They don't have a difficult schedule by any means, playing their nonconference games against the AFC East (Bills, Jets, Dolphins). While I don't envision the Lions contesting for the division crown, I do see them as a wild-card team once again as they figure to be much more balanced on both sides of the football. This should help them get their ATS mark to around 10, which would be a solid season at the betting window.
New York Giants
There may not be a more talked-about team in the NFL than the New York Giants. They drafted the most talked-about rookie since Adrian Peterson in Saquon Barkley, they have a healthy (for now) Odell Beckham Jr, a veteran quarterback in Eli Manning, and several other nice pieces to play with on the offensive side of the ball. The defense might be the weak point, but if the Giants can put up as many points as I expect them to then they should be more than fine this season. I also expect them to improve on their 7-9 ATS from last season. Last season was essentially a write-off. OBJ got hurt early, Manning had no offensive line protection, no running game, and a bad defense. The Giants now face a schedule that includes AFC South -- whom they have the talent to go 3-1 possibly even 4-0 against. If the team is clicking on all cylinders then they could be one of the most fun teams to watch in the entire league. I expect them to contend for the division title and get that ATS mark much higher than it was last season.
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