NFC Spread Betting ConsiderationsBy Alex H.
Last week, BettingSports.com took a look at how the AFC’s 16 representatives faired against the spread last season, searching for any trends that might be useful heading into this year’s campaign. You can read our findings here.
This week, we switch conferences and examine how the NFC did against the spread.
Before we get into the meat of this particular sandwich, it’s worth noting that whilst only six AFC teams had a positive record against the spread, 10 NFC teams were .500 or better when it comes to covering the spread. That may be something to keep in mind during this year’s inter-conference games.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the NFC.
2012’s best record against the spread was shared by three teams. The Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams all went 11-5-0 ATS during last year’s campaign. Both the Seahawks and Redskins made the playoffs, finishing with 11 and 10 wins respectively, but the Rams come as a complete surprise on this list; the team finished with just seven straight up wins. Seattle will find it more difficult to cover the spread this year as they become a favorite more often. The Redskins could go either way while the Rams might again be a sleeper.
At the other end of the scale, the Philadelphia Eagles’ miserable season was capped off by a league-worst record against the spread. The Eagles managed to cover the spread just four times all season, matching the team’s win total on the year. Favored to start the season but an underdog for most of October onwards, the team just couldn’t put anything together, as evidenced by its -164 point differential. Only the Kansas City Chiefs (-214) and Jacksonville Jaguars (-189) had a worse differential at the end of the year. Expect a turnaround this year for the Eagles, although not one that will put them at the top of the ATS standings.
Unsurprisingly for a team that went unbeaten at home, much of Seattle’s ATS success came at home. The Pacific Northwest team compiled a 7-1-0 ATS record when playing at CenturyLink Field, compared to a 4-4-0 ATS record on the road. No other NFC team covered the spread more than five times at home, with 11 covering four times or less.
If Seattle built its success at home, then Philadelphia bolstered its failure at home. The Eagles were anything but money at Lincoln Financial Field, compiling a miserable 1-7-0 ATS at home. Andy Reid’s former team wasn’t alone though. The Eagles’ divisional rivals the Dallas Cowboys also struggled to a 1-7-0 ATS record at home, as they put together a 4-4 straight up record that was sure to delight Jerry Jones.
We’ve already seen that St. Louis was surprisingly good at covering the spread. The team was even better when playing on the road. Considered the underdog more times than not on the road, the Rams went 7-1-0 ATS when playing away from the Edward Jones Dome. That wasn’t just an NFC-best record, but also a league-best tally. Three other teams finished 6-2-0 ATS on the road: Washington, the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Like the Rams, the Panthers (9-7-0 ATS) and Bucs (9-7-0 ATS) didn’t have great seasons but proved they were no bums when it comes to spread betting.
When it came to covering the spread on the road, Philadelphia (3-5-0 ATS) was unsurprisingly poor, but it was the Detroit Lions that struggled the most. The NFC North team managed to put together a 2-5-1 ATS record when not playing at Ford Field. Granted, the Lions weren’t much better at home (3-5-0 ATS), but this looks like a team that needs to prove itself before it’s worth backing on the road.
The Green Bay Packers picked up the most ATS wins when playing as the favorite, recording eight such victories. The Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers were a close second with seven ATS wins as the favorite. However, no team was a runaway as the favorite. Green Bay (8-6-0 ATS), Atlanta (7-6-1 ATS) and San Francisco (7-6-0 ATS) each failed to cover in almost half of the games they were favored in. It appears in the NFC that the favorite isn’t to be relied upon.
When favored, both the Arizona Cardinals (0-4-0 ATS) and St. Louis Rams (0-2-0 ATS) failed to cover the spread at all. Granted, those records are poor but in many ways the likes of Philadelphia (1-5-0 ATS), Dallas (2-7-0 ATS), Carolina (2-5-0 ATS) and the Minnesota Vikings (1-4-1 ATS) could be considered much worse. Each of these teams proved to be anything but the favorite when preferred by the bookmakers.
Best In Show
In 2012, the NFC witnessed a string of underdogs that pillage the spread on game day. Five teams (Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Minnesota and Arizona) recorded seven ATS wins when starting a game as the underdog, an astounding statistic. However, it was again those super surprising St. Louis Rams that impressed the most. In 14 games as an underdog, the Rams covered the spread in 11. Yes, 11! That truly was an astonishing feat. For bettors, the Rams were the favorite only when considered the underdog.
In the Doghouse
Leave it once more to the Philadelphia Eagles to fail where others choose to succeed. After a string of being favored at the start of the year, the Eagles ultimately started games as an underdog. The team managed to cover the spread in just three of these, taking the title for team that failed when it was expected to most. The Chicago Bears also struggled when considered the underdog. The Windy City team was 1-3-0 ATS when less favored. Fortunately, the team was preferred in 12 fixtures.
Under the Radar
There really is only one candidate when it comes to picking out an NFC team that covertly worked against the spread; the St. Louis Rams. As we’ve seen above, Jeff Fisher’s side managed to cover the spread as many times as any other NFL team; managed to cover the spread more times on the road than any other NFL team; and covered the spread as an underdog way more times than any other NFL team. In short, the Rams were a beast against the spread. With expectations fairly low, expect the Rams to be underdogs often this season, which opens up more possibilities for ransacking the spread.