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NFL betting trends entering Week 16

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So COVID-19 has ripped a hole in the NFL right now. The schedule has been adjusted and the quality of information we have at the moment is suspect. Teams are playing shorthanded on both sides of the ball. That’s an issue obviously for us looking to map out trends.

It’s also an issue for reporting as we do this update every Tuesday, and this week we still have two games yet to be played and factored into the analysis. These things will happen, but we can still get some information from what we have here. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what we do know. 

 

 

Against-the-Spread Results

Favorites took the lead last week at 7-6-1 on the season. As of now, we are tied up at 7 favorites and 7 underdogs winning against the spread in Week 15, with two games to go Tuesday evening. The Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Vikings, 49ers, Bills and Steelers all won and covered. Notice all of those teams are ones in playoff contention. The Dolphins, Packers and Raiders all won but failed to cover. The other four games were won outright by underdogs. The Texans beat the Jags, the Saints beat the Bucs, the Bengals beat the Broncos, and the Lions upset the Cardinals. That’s 4 dogs and 3 winners who didn’t cover to tie the favorites at 7 apiece. We can’t update the total weekly standings until after Tuesday, but either way you can see that the NFL parity remains this year as we are likely to have somewhere between a 7-9 to 9-7 week for favorites and right now the seasonal number is listed at 7-6-1 for the first 14 weeks. I wish I could tell you there’s a trend here, but the trend is actually that no trend exists. That can be a trend in itself as it tells us that worrying about betting underdogs or betting favorites has not led to increased profitability on either side of the coin and therefore is not something we should be blindly betting on or letting weigh into our decisions. 

Underdog Records

Dogs did not have a great week in terms of volume as we had just four winners and 10 losers so far. The Texans, Saints, Lions and Bengals are the four dogs that won. The Texans and Bengals were low priced on the moneyline. The Saints had a decent value and the big one was the Lions who paid well to knock off the Cardinals. Despite that big payout, so far dogs are a loser if you flat-bet one unit on each in Week 15. They have still produced a flat-bet profit in nine of 15 weeks, but the overall profit is likely to drop down to single-digit units after Tuesday. Betting on dogs is still profitable on the year, but at this point a blind one-unit bet on every moneyline underdog would generate about half a unit weekly in profits with some major peaks and valleys. As a strategy it is profitable and better to bet the moneyline dogs vs. spreads, but not by a massive amount and missing out on even one or two longshots would turn this negative if you tried to pick and choose only the best bets. Think about the Lions this week as an example. No one was actively picking that upset, so if you didn’t blindly bet every dog you would have probably missed out on a big payday chunk. 

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NFL Totals

This was a strange week in the NFL based on seasonal averages as well. The overs have come in about 45% of games, with unders cashing 54% and the remainder being the 2 ties. This week we currently sit at 7-7 for a tie with two games to play. Most weeks have been won by more unders coming in, hence the difference of about 10% in seasonal totals. The numbers would likely adjust very little in a week where we tie. Overs would get a slight increase and unders a slight decrease. Unders would still be profitable on the season to blindly bet, but the units and per week units would drop a bit. Overs would become better, but still remain a loser to blind bet game after game. Remember at -110 standard odds, a 52.5% win rate is required to break even. Unders would be slightly above at 53%+ change and overs would still be way below at a little above 45%. It still makes sense to lean to unders as they at least are slightly profitable on the year, but you will not get rich blindly betting them as in total for the season after 200-plus games you would be up a couple units at most. 

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