NFL Top 5: Teams struggling against the spread
Though the NFL season is just a month old, several teams find themselves struggling mightily against the spread. Whether it's overambitious lines, poor execution or simply a poor roster, these teams find themselves facing an uphill battle when it comes to rewarding - or in this case, restoring - bettors' faith.
Here are five teams that have yet to hit paydirt against the spread:
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS)
The Jaguars aren't just bad - they're on pace to be historically awful. Jacksonville has recorded just three offensive touchdowns through the first four games of the season - equaling the number of scores the Houston Texans have just on interception returns. In hindsight, Oddsmakers were downright generous installing the Jaguars as 3.5-point underdogs in their first two games. They didn't come close despite being given 19.5 points against Seattle, then destroyed bettors' hopes for a bounceback with a 34-point loss to Indianapolis the following week.
The Jaguars are listed as 11.5-point underdogs for Sunday's game in St. Louis.
Houston Texans (2-2 SU, 0-4 ATS)
The Texans have been offensively uneven since the start of the season, and they can blame quarterback Matt Schaub for much of that. Schaub has six interceptions against eight touchdowns through the first four games and has been unable to improvise when plays break down, following his playbook to a fault. Those mistakes have almost always swung the momentum in the opponents' favor, translating into four straight blown covers. Houston is fortunate to be at the .500 mark after needing a sensational fourth-quarter rally to beat the San Diego Padres in Week 1 before prevailing in overtime the following week against the Tennessee Titans.
The Texans are installed as 7-point underdogs for their showdown in San Francisco Sunday night.
New York Giants (0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS)
No team has been a bigger surprise - or disappointment - than the Giants, who have gone from potential Super Bowl contenders to playoff long shots in four short weeks. While they nearly covered in a narrow Week 1 loss to Dallas - given 3.5 points but losing by five - the Giants have been a disaster every week since, losing to Denver, Carolina and Kansas City by a combined 80 points. The once-vaunted New York defense has allowed a league-high 10 passing touchdowns and is surrendering more than 120 rushing yards per game.
The Giants are a 1-point favorite for Sunday's divisional battle with the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS)
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently declared his team the worst in the league. And while that distinction belongs firmly to Jacksonville, Big Ben isn't far off. Pittsburgh has struggled throughout its four-game opening skid and only came close to covering once (dropping a 10-point decision to Cincinnati in which the Steelers were 7-point underdogs.) Like the Giants, Pittsburgh has been gashed on the ground. It's surrendering the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL and its six touchdowns against are a league worst.
Pittsburgh enjoys a Week 5 bye before returning to action against the Jets in New York on Oct. 13.
St. Louis Rams (1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS)
Hopes were high following a 7-8-1 showing a season ago, but the Rams haven't been able to sustain the strong defensive effort they displayed in 2012. Only the Giants, Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings have permitted more points than St. Louis, which has been torched via the rush (534 yards against, five touchdowns) and through the air (1,015 yards against, nine touchdowns). Quarterback Sam Bradford has also had problems, completing less than 60 percent of his passes while ranking 23rd in the league in quarterback rating.
St. Louis is listed as an 11.5-point favorite for Sunday's game against visiting Jacksonville.