The NFL season is now in full swing, which means it’s time for all sportsbooks to start placing winning football bets. The National Football League (NFL) kicks off each new season with two games per week on Thursday and Sunday. There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the NFL schedule because teams have to fit their games into prime time slots or else they won’t draw fans. As a result, there are fewer opportunities for betting action, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in analyzing the over/under (O/U) lines for each team.
Which Teams Are Best For Underdogs?
Undoubtedly, the biggest story line heading into the 2019 NFL season is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defending Super Bowl champions are coming off a dismal performance in which they went 4-12 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time in over two decades. Can they bounce back and save the season?
In some ways, the Steelers are fortunate to have an easy schedule this year. They get to open the season with three straight home games against the Browns, Ravens, and Bengals. That’s certainly an advantageous position to be in, especially since the three teams combined for 21-41-1 over/under records in 2018. But those are the only three home games the Steelers will have this year. They then have to play the rest of their games on the road, where they’re 0-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last five trips away from home, including a 0-5 ATS mark in the last two seasons. That doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for the Steelers to score points.
Which Team Is Best For Point-Getters?
While the Steelers have the easiest schedule in the NFL, the New England Patriots have the toughest. The defending champs, who many consider to be the greatest dynasty in the history of sports, will have to navigate the tricky AFC North this year. They have to play the Steelers in Week 1, the Bengals in Week 2, and the Ravens in Week 3. Plus, they have to travel to New Jersey to take on the Jets in Week 4. That’s a lot of winning and a lot of mileage on the football schedule. Based on that, it’s not surprising that the Patriots are 4-7-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last ten trips to the road, including a 2-6 mark in the last two seasons. The oddsmaker’s take: New England is a plus-15.5 point favorite against the spread (ATS) this year.
The Atlanta Falcons are another team that travels a lot this year. They have a whopping ten road games, including four cross-country trips to either the East Coast or the West Coast. While many fans are excited about the team’s new acquisitions, namely Deion Jones and Mohamed Sanu, those games will be costly. Going on the road during the season will eat into the Falcons’ chances of repeating as champions.
Which Teams Are Best For Over/Under?
You’d think that with so many difficult schedules, we’d see more underdogs winning more often than not. But that isn’t the case at all. In 2018, the underdogs won the Super Bowl (49ers), the NFC Championship (Packers), and the AFC Championship (Jaguars). So, not only are underdogs capable of winning big games, they’re also capable of going under the radar and surprising people.
Since 2016, eight of the top ten NFL wins have come from the underdogs. In fact, only the 49ers (20.5) and Patriots (20) have been more successful against the spread (ATS) as favorites than as underdogs (20.5 and 19.5, respectively). Moreover, the NFC had four of the top five highest scoring games last year. Three of those games came from the underdogs, including the aforementioned 49ers-Patriots matchup, which was the highest scoring game in NFL history (783 points!). Last but not least, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the most points (476) in NFL history against the Baltimore Ravens in the highest scoring game in NFL history (764 points!). In short, underdogs are back and they’re better than ever before. Just ask the defending champs, the Los Angles Rams.