NFL ATS: Teams Most Likely to Improve Against the Spread
The one thing we learn from year to year as NFL bettors is that few things remain the same from year to year. Teams that are great to bet on one year often aren't the next year, and vice versa. There are some situations where an improvement from a team just can't be anticipated. But often, we can see improvements coming - and when we do that it can lead to some nice profits. Here are five teams that struggled last year against the spread that should be more pleasant to bet on this year:
San Francisco 49ers (5-11 ATS last year): Last year was a total mulligan of a season for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo went down very early, and they were left to flounder with a quarterback situation that was a whole long way from ideal. Their supposed quarterback of the future is now healthy and ready to go, and the team had a solid offseason - with Nick Bosa at the top of the list. They were poised to take a big step forward last season, but it just didn't happen. This year, though, they should be able to do some of what injuries robbed them of last year. And that should help them cover a lot more spreads than they did last year.
Related: 49ers Odds to Win the Super Bowl
L.A. Rams (7-8-1 ATS last year): Last year the Rams were a hot team in the eyes of almost everyone. The offense was truly elite. The defense had star power. And the expectations were extremely high. The team delivered on all expectations - at least until the playoffs. But because the public was on this team from the start, and because that public infatuation only grew as the offense turned heads and won games, the spreads were large to start and larger as the season progressed. It became very tough for the team to cover spreads, and they did it less often than they failed to. This year, though, the expectations feel slightly less out of control. The team is still among the top contenders in the league. But the Super Bowl performance was problematic, and people are worried about hangovers after a loss like that. The team is largely the same as it was last year, and there is at least a decent chance that they will be very competitive again this year. If the public isn't quite as enthusiastic as they were last year, we should see an improvement in betting performance. They still aren't likely to be the best of the betting teams in the league, but they should be better than they were last year.
Related: LA Rams Odds to Win Super Bowl
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9-1 ATS last year): Last year was a total disaster of a season in Jacksonville. It created a lot of chaos and caused a whole lot of change - most notably at quarterback, where Nick Foles represents a significant upgrade. The pieces are here for the defense to be solid, and the offense to be improved. The AFC South is tough. However, with Indianapolis facing some questions around Andrew Luck, it is a little less scary than it could be. This is a team that very much has the potential to contend. And because they have struggled so much in recent years, it could take a while for the public to catch up to them. This is a team that is going to be profitable against the spread.
Green Bay Packers (6-9-1 ATS last year): I don't feel as good about this one as I do about others on this list because of the coaching change. They needed to make a change, but taking a risk on an unproven coach is never a certainty. And I don't trust Aaron Rodgers nearly as much as others seem to right now given both his health and a general sense of frustration he had in his game last year. But the team had a solid offseason, and there is at least a decent chance that the change in leadership will shake things up enough for them to come closer to achieving their potential. They are a public team, which makes this tough, but they don't have any real excuses to be as cruel to bettors as they were last year.
Carolina Panthers (7-9 ATS last year): It all comes down to how well Cam Newton can hold up physically. His surgeon is making far too much money off of him these days, and that's a problem. But if he can stay healthy, he can be productive - potentially more than he has been in a couple of years. And he certainly has some productive pieces around him - none more than Christian McCaffrey, who could be ready for a massive year. This is a team ready to take a step forward, and if they do then bettors will be rewarded for it.
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