USA Today Sports

The spirit of giving: This year's best underdog bets

Is it better to give than to receive?

Say what you want about holiday ethics, these teams have been at their best when receiving the points. Here’s a quick look at the best underdog bets in sports over the past year:

NFL

St. Louis Rams

The Rams have been underdogs in all but two games this season. While they’ve failed to cover as faves both times, they’ve thrived as underdogs. All 11 of St. Louis’ ATS victories (11-5 ATS) have come when getting the points, most notably on the road where the Rams went 7-1 ATS including Sunday’s cover at Seattle.

NBA

Toronto Raptors

If you count last year’s shortened season, the Raptors have been the liveliest dog in the pound. Toronto went 37-28-1 ATS overall last season and was the betting favourite in just 13 of those contests, going 30-22-1 ATS as an underdog. This year, the Dinos are 16-15 ATS and have been playing well in recent contests. Toronto is 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games – five of those paydays coming as an underdog.

NCAAF


Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern was the sleeper in the Big Ten this season, posting a profitable 11-1 ATS record thanks to a lack of respect from the betting public. The Wildcats were tabbed as underdogs in half their games this season, posting a 3-3 SU and 5-1 ATS mark in those contests. And what do you know? Northwestern is getting the points again this postseason. Books have the Wildcats set at +2.5 versus Ole Miss in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day.

MLB

Oakland Athletics

Moneyball 2 paid out big time for fans of the underdog. The A’s topped the majors in units, earning 38.54 - $3,854 if you wagered $100 every game – and most of those paydays came as underdogs. Oakland was a moneyline pup in 106 of its 162 games this past season. Even during their incredible late-season run, the Athletics were plus money more often than not.

NCAAB

Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans

You better be a good at something when your team’s mascot looks like the logo for a company that makes dong bags. The Trojans had you covered (he he!) when getting the points last season. Arkansas-Little Rock posted an 18-9 ATS record overall, including a 14-3 ATS count as an underdog. The Trojans haven’t been able to carry that over to the start of this year, going 3-6 ATS as pups.

NHL

New York Rangers

The Rangers were the second-best team in the NHL last season and finished second in money won, earning 11.06 units for loyal backers. A good chunk of those earnings came from games in which New York was the moneyline underdog – that happened only 20 times in 2011-12. In those games, the Rangers came up big, going 14-6 as plus money. As for this season... right... this season...

Honorable mention: The Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings were 40-1 underdogs to win the Cup heading into the playoffs last season. They were also underdogs in six of their first seven playoff games and won five of those six.

CFL

Toronto Argonauts

Who’da thunk the eventual Grey Cup champs would also be the best underdog bet in the CFL? The Argos shocked their way to an upset title, going 10-4 when getting the points this past summer. Toronto covered in its final five games en route to the league crown – four of those as an underdog including getting 1.5 points versus Calgary at home in the Grey Cup.

WNBA

Chicago Sky

The Sky failed to make the playoffs and finished with an even-steven ATS mark of 17-17. However, Chicago thrived as an underdog this summer. It picked up 13 of those paydays as a puppy, going 13-6 ATS when getting the points. The Sky’s resilience on the road helped build that underdog status, going 11-6 ATS away from the Windy City.

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