Home » Blog » AFC Spread Betting Considerations

AFC Spread Betting Considerations

The Cleveland Browns may not have won many games last season but they certainly fared well against the spread.

The Cleveland Browns didn’t have many wins last season but they fared well against the spread.

With the NFL’s preseason officially kicking off with Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, BettingSports.com thought it was time to take a look back at last year’s spread betting results and see what lessons we can learn ahead of this season.

We start of this two-part special with a look at the AFC, picking out those sides that fared well against the spread and those that fared less well. We also take into account those sides that were good/bad at home and on the road, as well as those that were favorites for a reason and those that proved why they were underdogs.

We start with the teams that proved to be a bettor’s spread betting dream.

Conference’s Best

Manning and the Broncos owned the spread.

Manning and the Broncos owned the spread.

The AFC’s best teams against the spread last season proved to be the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, both of which recorded an 11-5-0 ATS record.

That record was also good for best in the NFL, shared with three teams in the NFC. The Broncos were favored for much of the season (12 of 16 games) and managed to live up to expectations. The Colts were often underdogs (10 of 16 games) and regularly upset the odds. Expect the Broncos to be favorites again this year – they currently are joint favorite to win Super Bowl XLVIII – while it’s likely the Colts won’t be an underdog too often.

Both teams proved that beating the spread can lead to postseason appearances. It’s worth noting, the top five AFC teams against the spread all made the playoffs. Only the Baltimore Ravens (6-9-1 ATS) qualified having failed to cover more times than not.

Conference’s Worst

At the other end of the spectrum, the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders compiled the AFC’s worst records against the spread, going 5-11-0 ATS. That’s unsurprising for a pair of teams that combined for just six total wins last year. Still, losing straight up doesn’t have to translate to the ATS standings (see “Under the Radar”).

The Chiefs will be better this season and should cover the spread a few more times. The Raiders could well be one of the league’s worst teams against the spread once again.

Home Cooking

In addition to finishing with the conference’s best overall ATS record, the Colts also proved to be the AFC’s best home team against the spread. The team’s 7-1-0 ATS record at Lucas Oil Stadium narrowly beat Denver’s 6-2-0 ATS record past the post. The Colts were a team to back at home, that’s for sure. Can Andrew Luck and Co. repeat the feat this season?

Burnt Toast

If the Colts were kings of home field, the triumvirate of the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers and Oakland were not welcome in their own home. The trio each recorded a miserable 2-6-0 ATS record when playing at home. Strangely, all three fared better against the spread on the road, although in the case of the Raiders the phrase ‘fared a little better’ should probably be used. All three look like they might have similar problems this year.

Road Warriors

Winning on the road in the NFL is tough. Covering the spread on the road is tough. But the Cincinnati Bengals somehow managed to put together a 6-2-0 ATS record away from Paul Brown Stadium, an AFC best. The New England Patriots (5-2-1 ATS) finished a close second as only five sides beat the spread more times than not during their travels. One of those five was San Diego, who made up for a horrendous home record by going 5-3-0 ATS on the road.

Travel Sickness

The spread was not a friend to CJ2K and the Titans.

The spread was not a friend to CJ2K and the Titans.

While they may not have been alone in their struggles to cover the spread on the road, Kansas City and the Tennessee Titans did find themselves at the bottom of the AFC heap. Each teams was a miserable 3-5-0 ATS away from home during 2012, a record that unsurprisingly led to poor all-around ATS records (the Titans were 6-10-0 ATS).

Flavor Fave

As well as being solid bets against the spread, Denver and Indianapolis also proved to be reliable when picked as the favorite. The Broncos recorded a 10-2-0 ATS record when picked by the bookies, while the Colts were 5-1-0 ATS when preferred. That’s an 83.3 percent conversion rate for both. The Patriots and Houston Texans each covered the spread eight times as a favorite, but the fact that they entered 15 and 14 games respectively preferred takes the sheen off that record.

Let Down

While some favorites could be relied upon to cash in against the spread, there were those that apparently let the pressure get to them. While the likes of Jacksonville and Kansas City failed to pick up a win as a favorite (both only had one shot at it), the team that really underachieved was the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin’s side entered 12 games as a favorite last year and only covered the spread in four of those. Bettors and Steelers fans will be hoping the side, and Ben Roethlisberger in particular, can stay healthier this season.

Best In Show

The Bengals cover the spread six times on the road.

The Bengals excelled as an underdog.

When it came to covering the spread as the underdog last season, the Cincinnati Bengals ruled the AFC roost.* The Bengals went 5-3-0 ATS when considered a dog, which was closely followed by Indianapolis at 6-4-0 ATS. The Jaguars even managed to cover the spread seven times as an underdog, but its 7-8-0 ATS record as the dog looks less impressive.

*Technically, the New England Patriots were the AFC’s best underdog having won the only game the team was not favored in. But one game is hardly a worthy sample size. You get the feeling that Bill Belichick and Co. will be an underdog a few more times this season.

In the Doghouse

When it came to living up to an underdog reputation, it’s hard to look past the Buffalo Bills. The upstate New York side recorded a 2-7-0 ATS record when playing as the underdog. That’s a team that was, and remains, worth avoiding in many betting channels. It’s worth noting that Denver (1-3-0) was another side that failed to achieve much as an underdog. Fortunately the side wasn’t, and will not be, an underdog all that often.

Under the Radar

For all the insults, aspersions and raised eyebrows aimed at the Cleveland Browns last year, the side proved to be adept at beating out their underdog status. The Browns were 8-7-1 ATS last season, finishing just outside the top five. In fact, the sixth-placed Browns were one of only six teams to have a positive record against the spread. They may have racked up the losses last year, but this team put up a fight. Expect the same this year.

It’s also worth pointing out that Jacksonville, a team that went 2-14, managed to compile a 7-9-0 ATS record. Automatically dismissing the Jaguars’ chances against the spread could be a mistake again this season.

Part 2 of this two-part special focuses on last season’s NFC ATS rankings. You can read it here.

  • 100%