With the way NFL underdogs are cashing in, football bettors are like Trick-or-Treaters at the oddsmakers’ door, opening their bags for as many points as books will give them.
Teams getting the points have posted a profitable 57-32-2 mark against the spread this season, covering at an unreal 64 percent. That figure was helped out by a Week 6 schedule in which underdogs went 12-2 ATS. The 57-32-2 ATS record by NFL underdogs so far is the best mark for pups through the first six weeks of the season over at the past 15 years, which is as far back as our numbers go.
The previous best six-week record for NFL underdogs during that span was a 49-25-7 ATS mark (60.49 percent) in 1999. Underdogs also went a profitable 49-36-2 ATS (56.32 percent) through the first six weeks in 2010.
These results are music to the sportbooks’ ear. The majority of public bettors play the favorites on a week-to-week basis, fattening the oddsmakers’ pockets with every close game and outright upset.
"Everything is going good if you're on this side of the counter," Jimmy Vaccaro, director of public relations for William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada, told Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal
. "The 'dogs are showing, and the books are doing very well."
According to some books, poor play from the league’s top teams – like the Steelers, Packers, and Eagles (combined 4-12-1 ATS) – is contributing to that trend. Teams like the Rams (5-1 ATS), Buccaneers (4-1 ATS), and Seahawks (4-2 ATS) have made a mint for bettors looking for the live dog.
“The league has been leaning toward parity for years now,” Aaron Kessler, sportsbook supervisor at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, told Covers. “There’s really not much difference between the top teams and the bottom teams. Just look at the AFC East, you have four teams tied for first and last place.”
The appeal of betting the underdog is catching on both in Nevada and online. Kessler says more public bettors are sizing up the underdogs each week, especially with all the recent media attention and stories on the trend. At online sportsbook, bet365.com
, they estimate that there has actually been more money wagered on the underdogs than the favorites so far this season.
“I’m happy to see that at least more parity in the league is evident,” Aron Black, of bets365.com, told Covers. “Teams who traditionally would not be expected to win are getting wins. And teams who were expected to steamroll have not. It makes for great booking.”
But in sports betting, like in life, the universe tends to balance itself out. In 1999, when underdogs covered at better than a 60 percent clip through the first six weeks, teams getting the points eventually finished 119-102-11 ATS (51 percent). And in 2010, when pups got off to a 49-36-2 ATS start heading into Week 7, underdogs finished the season 127-121-5 ATS (50.19 percent).
“It can only last so long,” says Kessler. “Eventually, favorites are going to start covering again. I’m going to start looking for value with the favorites.”
Black also expects the results to level out, but doesn’t see this trend going away overnight.
“I don’t think it will be for a good few weeks yet," he says. "With so many teams in the running and only a few that you can look at as out of contention at this stage, there will be many more surprises or at least considered surprise results to come."
“Long may the surprises continue, I say, and keep us all guessing from one week to the next.”