Which are the Best Teams Versus the Spread in the Last Five Games (The Answer May Shock You)

NFL Dec 10, 2020

What do Jacksonville, Washington, Miami, and NY Giants each have in common?  Read on....

One important factor to look at when handicapping NFL games is to examine the teams' record against-the-spread.  

Indeed, ATS performance is the prime indicator of teams being either overvalued or undervalued by oddsmakers and the betting public.  This means that there are some great opportunities to bet on teams (or against teams) where the numbers haven't caught up to reality.

This article is designed to adjust our perceptions of some teams and show that W-L records and even season-long ATS records can be very misleading.

Don't be fooled by season-long ATS results, which are sometimes clear contradictions of how a team is playing at the moment.  

For instance, the Chicago Bears, who began the season 5-1 ATS, is not the same team now in mid-December as two months ago.  They've lost six straight games, which makes their overall record quite misleading.  

Conversely, the Cleveland Browns are a much better team now than they were in September, winners of four straight, and covering the spread in each game.  Hence, we should be looking much more closely at recent performance, rather than overall performance.

What follows are pointspread results of all NFL teams over the past five games.

This span of play is enough time to establish some patterns, and track the trajectory of teams in terms of their value heading into the final four games of the season.

5-0 ATS:

New Orleans

4-1 ATS:

Jacksonville, NY Giants, Miami, Washington, Buffalo

3-2 ATS:

New England, LA Rams, Green Bay, Tennessee, Houston, Carolina, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, NY Jets, Atlanta, Baltimore

2-3 ATS:

Detroit, Dallas, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland

1-4 ATS:

Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco  

0-5 ATS:

Arizona (actually 0-6 last six games), LA Chargers (also 0-6 in their last six games)

That's not a typo.  Kansas City is 1-4 ATS in their last five games.  Meanwhile, Miami has covered in 7 of their last 8, and is the NFL's hottest team versus the spread.  Yet, the Chiefs are favoured by 7 on the road this week at Miami!

New Orleans, at 5-0 ATS in their last five games may not be a surprise.  What is interesting is the Saints have started a backup QB in all of those games.  Perhaps the oddsmakers and public have overreacted to the Brees-Hill "drop-off" in skill.

So, what this means is – Jacksonville, NY Giants, Miami, Washington are 4 of the top 6 teams against-the-spread since the start of November.  That's right.  Even Jacksonville!

In most cases, we should be looking to bet ON the teams which remain solid values relating to the spread – which appears to be New Orleans, Jacksonville, NY Giants, Miami, Washington, and Buffalo.  These teams are money makers.

This also means we should be looking to bet AGAINST Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona, and the LA Chargers.  These teams are money burners.