The San Francisco 49ers were far and away the best-covering favorite in NFL betting during the 2022 season. They were 12-5 as the favorite.
The Eagles, who were the next-best team by raw wins, were 10-9. The Bengals were 9-5.
A series of quarterback injuries depressed the market’s willingness to bet on the 49ers throughout the year. Just as the 49ers were gaining steam in the middle portion of the season, they had to turn to third-string quarterback Brock Purdy.
Purdy proved to be an effective offensive executor for Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but it took bettors weeks to realize that. His emergence basically reset the NFL betting market on San Francisco in the middle of the season, leading to weeks of undercooked point spreads.
Over and over again, 49ers bettors cashed in big.
.@49ers have won 11 games in a row.
Since 2003, teams that have won 11 or more games in a row have gone 1-11 ATS per @Bet_Labs.
49ers -3.5 vs. Cowboys.
— John Ewing (@johnewing) January 18, 2023
NFL ATS Records as Favorites
|Team||ATS Record as Favorite, 2022||ATS Record as Favorite, 2018-22|
Best Favorite Teams in NFL Betting (Last Five Years)
Kansas City has covered the most (40) games as a favorite over the last five years, but that’s mainly a function of the raw number of games the Chiefs play as a favorite. They have an NFL ATS record of 40-41-3 as a favorite over the last five seasons.
The team that’s covered the best percentage as a favorite is actually New England, thanks largely to the fact that the last five years included two seasons of Tom Brady.
But even now, Bill Belichick is still a pretty good investment as a favorite – the Pats were 5-2-1 ATS when laying points in 2022.
Other teams that were above water when laying points from 2018-22 include the Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, and Saints.
NFL Betting Market Suppress Even the Best Teams
Brock Purdy and the 49ers may have fooled the market for a large portion of 2022, but it’s virtually impossible for teams to consistently beat the market to that degree over multiple seasons.
San Francisco – good enough to go to three NFC championship games in the last four years – is just 27-28-1 ATS as a favorite over the last five seasons.
That’s because betting markets suppress the value of even the best teams. An online sportsbook takes action on public teams, so they may add a point or two onto a number to insulate itself against a deluge of public action; public bettors then bet it anyway, driving up the spread even higher.
There’s also the very format of the NFL itself, which rewards bad teams and penalizes good ones by design via its annual draft process.
As a result, many of the top teams in the NFL level out with ATS records very close to .500. The Chiefs, as I mentioned, are one game below .500 in this ATS favorite category.
The Rams, who won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2021 season and had been excellent under Sean McVay for years before that, are 31-30-3 as an ATS favorite over the last five seasons.
The Cowboys – always a target for public bets – are 29-27.
None of this means you shouldn’t bet on popular or trendy favorites. But if you’re doing it a lot, it can be difficult to find a long-term edge.
Read More: How Often Do Favorites Win in NFL Betting?
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