Fading Early-Season Road Favorites in NFL Betting

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Andrew Doughty @DoughtyBetMGM Jul 06, 2022, 8:24 AM

The Baltimore Ravens failed to cover a 3-point spread in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2021 season opener. It was the fourth loss against the spread (2-4) and third outright loss (3-3) for road favorites in Week 1, which set the stage for another year of early-season struggles for road favorites in NFL betting.

Six days later, the Ravens were on the other side of the trend, covering +3.5 in an outright home win over the Kansas City Chiefs. And in Week 3, they flipped back; they beat the Detroit Lions on Justin Tucker’s 66-yard field goal but failed to cover -8.

Those Ravens’ games accounted for three of 10 ATS losses for road favorites in the first three weeks of the season. And with only eight ATS wins for road favorites, it was the 11th time in the last 12 seasons road favorites finished .500 or worse against the spread through the first three weeks.

The ATS record of 78-107-3 over that time has produced an ROI of -16.4%. If, for example, you bet $100 on the road favorite in each of those 188 spots over the last 12 years, you would’ve lost more than $3,000.

Road favorites haven’t been much better against the moneyline in early-season games. They went 11-7 in 2021 but finished in the red (-11.5% ROI) for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons. Betting another $100 on the moneyline in each of those spots would’ve resulted in a loss of nearly $2,500.

The Ravens are once again a road favorite to open the 2022 season. As of July 5 at the online sportsbook, they are -5.5 against the New York Jets in one of 10 season openers with a road favorite:

Ravens at JetsRavens -5.5Ravens -225, Jets +175
Saints at FalconsSaints -5.5Saints -225, Falcons +185
Browns at PanthersBrowns -2.5Browns -150, Panthers +125
49ers at Bears49ers -6.549ers -275, Bears +220
Eagles at LionsEagles -4.5Eagles -190, Lions +190
Colts at TexansColts -7.5Colts -375, Texans +290
Chiefs at CardinalsChiefs -3Chiefs -160, Cardinals +130
Packers at VikingsPackers -2.5Packers -135, Vikings +110
Bucs at CowboysBucs -2.5Bucs -135, Cowboys +110
Broncos at SeahawksBroncos -4.5Broncos -225, Seahawks +180

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About the Author

Andrew Doughty

Read More @DoughtyBetMGM

Andrew Doughty is the Web Content Lead for BetMGM. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he previously wrote for Sports Illustrated and HERO Sports.

Andrew Doughty is the Web Content Lead for BetMGM. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he previously wrote for Sports Illustrated and HERO Sports.