NFL Against the Spread: Teams that Could Decline ATS
It's like clockwork. Every year we see a few teams in the NFL that are very generous to bettors one year struggle to deliver to those bettors the next year. In some cases, it is because they are coming off a great year and may struggle to match it. Or perhaps they overachieved from a betting perspective and aren't likely to be as lucky again. Or maybe they just aren't any good at all and are ready to take a step backwards. Here are five teams that were profitable for bettors last year that aren't likely to be as kind this time around.
Chicago Bears (12-4 ATS last year): The Bears had a strong year and should have a strong one again. Losing Vic Fangio is a blow to the defense, but they still have the personnel and some solid leadership on that side of the ball. And Mitch Trubisky could be ready to take another step forward this year after showing some real improvement last season. They are not going to collapse by any means. But it feels quite unlikely that the team is going to be nearly as profitable as last year. For one thing, the division is likely to be much tougher than it wound up last year thanks to the struggles of the Vikings and the collapse of the Packers. And part of the success of last year from a betting perspective is that they were better than people expected them to be, and they never really faded. Now they aren't sneaking up on anyone, though. They are the hunted. And the hunted are rarely the most profitable.
Cleveland Browns (10-6 ATS last year): Last year the Browns were profitable out of the gate even though they couldn't win any games. And they were profitable after the coaching change when they were winning a lot of games. They just kept covering spreads. But that was then. Now this is one of the more public teams in the league. Expectations are massive after the strong close to last season and the very productive offseason. Probably too massive. This is a team with a new coach, a young quarterback, and no institutional knowledge of how to win. And people are assuming that they are going to be an elite team. They may be, but that is no certainty. And the public is just not going to be rational about this team and where they are at. They will expect a lot, which will take any value there is in betting on this team and throw it away. I am reasonably optimistic about their success on the scoreboard but far less optimistic about them at the betting window.
Washington Redskins (9-7 ATS last year): This begins the tour of teams that just aren't any good at all. The Redskins have some real questions at quarterback and are likely to make some decisions at the position that will cause some real short-term pain - hopefully for long term gain. The personnel on offense outside of QB has all sorts of question marks, and the defense has even more. It will be quite an accomplishment for Jay Gruden to last to the end of the season - and I am really not betting on him doing so. The team is just a mess. They were really a mess last year, too, which makes it all the more surprising that they were profitable. There was some luck involved in accomplishing that, and I doubt they will be lucky again. This is not going to be a profitable team.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-7 ATS last year): The Marvin Lewis era finally and mercifully came to an end. And he left a whole lot of carnage behind when he left. This is a team that is a whole long way from good. They have questions pretty much everywhere. And they have hired a coach who is young and very raw. Their division is tough, and the Bengals are left far behind the rest of the teams. It is going to be a long and ugly year on the shores of the Ohio river, and that is going to make it rough on bettors. This team is just not going to make any money for bettors - except for those that bet against them regularly.
Detroit Lions (9-7 ATS last year): The Lions were a solid team to bet on last year despite only winning six games. And they had a completely forgettable offseason, doing very little to improve in any real way. It would count as a bit of a miracle for them to win as many as six games again. And given the strong likelihood of some real struggles, it would require a good deal of luck - even more than last year - for them to be profitable again. I'm certainly not willing to bet that that will happen.
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