Handicapping NFL games in September can be tricky, especially for bettors have been anxiously waiting to place wagers on football after sweating out the dog days of summer.
Nonetheless, the London Olympics are in the books and the pig is in the air, meaning the sweltering days of summer will soon be history.
Let’s take a quick look at how teams in the NFL have fared during the opening month of September since 1990.
Listed below are the GOOD and BAD ATS (Against The Spread) September performers. Teams had to beat the spread 66.7 percent or more of the time, or lose to the spread 33.3 percent or less of the time, in order to qualify for the list.
All results were extracted from the 2012 PLAYBOOK Football Preview magazine.
SEPTEMBER GOOD MONTH PERFORMERS:
Dallas • 21-9 ATS as underdogs
The Cowboys are America’s team and almost always have enough talent to compete, if not win as often as their fans or oddsmakers think. Dallas is known for big plays and that is usually why they come through when catching points early in the season.
Kansas City • 22-10 ATS vs. division opponents
The Chiefs have long been known to focus their attention on AFC West encounters, both home and away. The rivalries in this division are about as fierce and full of hate as any in football and Kansas City has always made it their business to keep it personal.
Keep an Eye On:
Denver • 13-7 ATS as underdogs
The Broncos used to enjoy a tremendous home-field advantage, but have only had one winning regular season in Denver since 2006. They have been a much better wager when catching points.
SEPTEMBER BAD MONTH PERFORMERS:
Arizona • 10-21 ATS at home, 7-15 ATS when favored
The further Kurt Warner is removed from the Arizona franchise, the lower the Cardinals continue to sink. Even when the Redbirds had pretty good teams in recent years, they were slow out the gate, even at home.
Carolina • 7-14 ATS as favorites
John Fox was a successful head coach in Charlotte for the most part, but he was more known for how his teams closed the year than how they began them. Carolina has always been a far better road underdog than a favorite.
Cincinnati • 11-25 ATS at home, 10-20 ATS when favored
Bengals fans have been apathetic towards ownership, despite the team reaching the playoffs three times in the past seven seasons. The franchise averaged just over 49,000 patrons per game last season, last in the NFL. The days of the “The Jungle” are long gone and the Bengals’ home-field edge could bankrupt football bettors.
Cleveland • 2-5 ATS as favorites
When your talent level is in the lower 20 percent of the league, winning games is a problem. Positioning teams like this as favorites can be very profitable, as long as you are betting the other side. Cleveland does not deserve to be giving points to anybody at this juncture.
St. Louis • 13-26 ATS away
This is our second Kurt Warner reference, but it’s apparent what his impact was on two franchises after he departed. The Rams have assembled mediocre players for years and are clearly not capable of taking their act on the road in the first quarter of the season.
Keep An Eye On:
Chicago • 11-20 ATS as favorites
Previously, Chicago played more home games early in the season in order to have fewer cold-weather games in the northern part of the country. The Bears were often not equipped to handle being favored.
Oakland • 11-20 ATS vs. division opponents
The days of “Commitment to Excellence” with the Raiders went out like Al Davis’ leisure suits. AFC West rivals still derive pleasure from kicking Oakland’s posterior to this day.
Pittsburgh • 9-17 ATS as underdogs
The Steelers have been notorious slow starters, often peaking late in the season and taking a few early lumps since the Chuck Noll days in Pittsburgh.
St. Louis • 12-23 as favorites
Even when the Rams were the “Greatest Show on Turf” under Dick Vermeil, the St. Louis defense allowed too many points, making them a crummy choice as a favorite.