When placing your NFL bets this coming season, it might be wise to look at the success of teams, not just in terms of their outright wins, but primarily Against The Spread over recent years. Also note how oddsmakers were able to make adjustments. Get the latest NFL odds here
The New England Patriots was so good in 2016-17 they not only lost two games outright, they failed to cover the spread in all but three. This helped propel the Pats to earning the best record Against The Spread in addition to yet another Super Bowl ring.
Despite their 7-9 record Straight Up, the New Orleans Saints managed to have the second best record with 11 covers.
Teams with ten covers included the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and the NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons.
The two teams with the best records Against The Spread floundered (at least outright) in 2016: The Minnesota Vikings (13-3) and the Cincinnati Bengals (12-3-1).
That year’s NFC Champion the Carolina Panthers were the only other team to cover in ten or more games this season (11). New England incidentally went 7-7-2 ATS. The Cowboys were a dismal 4-11-1 ATS.
The Arizona Cardinals managed to walk off with the best record Against The Spread this season with 11 covers while four teams ended the season with ten covers apiece: Dallas, Minnesota, the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs.
Three teams ended the season with 11 covers, each in the same NFC West division remarkable: The Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona. No other team in the NFC had more than 9 covers this season.
Cincinnati, Indianapolis and the Denver Broncos each had ten covers.
The NFC West enjoyed much success this season as well with Seattle 11-5 and what was then the St. Louis Rams also somehow enjoying 11 covers despite a 7-8 season outright.
Washington enjoyed 11 covers, as did Indianapolis.
Denver had 10 covers along with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Things to Consider Heading Into the 2017 NFL Season
If you happen to be a bookie catering to the state of Minnesota, chances are good you have had a rough five years. Even last year, as the team fell apart, the Vikings managed to pull off a healthy 9-7 record Against The Spread. They had covered in each of the previous four seasons including a top-ranking spot in 2015.
Likewise, New England has not had a losing season Against The Spread over this period even with two .500 seasons ATS.
The Redskins may be the team to watch in 2017 with two consecutive finishes above the .500 mark ATS.
Whether the Saints continue to roll when it comes to covers remains to be seen, though 2016 marked their second consecutive winning record Against The Spread.
While the Seahawks have lost some luster in the last two seasons, they have not had a losing ATS season in their last five.
The Bengals did see their ATS record fall to 7-9 last season but in the four previous they had enjoyed some strong finishes in terms of covering. It remains to be seen if this is a team falling by the wayside.
As for Dallas, the Cowboys have gone from one extreme to the other Against The Spread. Oddsmakers will be honed in on this team each and every week in 2017 so probably not a wise decision to back them the first few weeks at least unless they show even more dominance than in 2016.
We would note that over this period it was not unusual for teams to have upwards of three consecutive solid showings Against The Spread: Indianapolis (2012-2014), Denver (2012-2014) and others that may have topped the nine mark.
We here suggest honing in on those teams that played well in 2016 but might still be enough under the radar that even the slightest improvements propel them to another strong ATS finish: Washington, Oakland and New Orleans.
A team like the New England Patriots may once again be too good for the books to keep at bay.
- Dan Shapiro, Gambling911.com