How Often Do Favorites Cover NFL Spreads?

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates a touchdown run by Kenneth Gainwell during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 27, 2022, in Philadelphia. Jalen Hurts is set to sign one of the richest deals in NFL history, agreeing to a five-year, $255 million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles, including $179.3 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The Eagles announced on Monday, April 17, “QB1 is here to stay,” but terms were not yet announced, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final.
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jun 02, 2023, 1:10 PM

The NFL offseason is an optimal time to review betting strategies and historical data. 

That way, when that next season of NFL betting odds comes around, your angles have been refined and maximized for efficiency.

I’ve been diving into some historical patterns and trends over the past few weeks, examining the evolution of NFL betting markets over the last decade or two. 

Here is some of the data I uncovered when it comes to favorites and point spreads. 

How Often Do Favorites Cover NFL Spreads?

Over the past 10 seasons, NFL regular-season favorites have gone 1206-1303-62 against the spread. That’s a 48% win clip. Bettors who bet every single favorite over that time period would have a -5.9% ROI. 

The last 10 years is a good, representative sample size of how favorites perform against marketplace expectations. 

Some seasons, like 2013, are particularly chalky. Spread bettors would have turned a profit during that season. 

However, most seasons show a nominal deficit or – in the case of 2022 – a total disaster.

NFL Favorites Were Absolutely Awful in 2022

The 2022 NFL season was one of the worst modern years on record for spread favorites. Favorites were 118-147-5 against the spread, which created a -14.6% ROI. 

Recently, I did a bit of broad digging into how often favorites win in NFL betting. I won’t spoil the whole article – you can go read it when you’re done here, if you like – but one of my main conclusions was that the radical increase in public bettors (who often prefer to lay the points) has created a less efficient spread market.

That’s one explanation why most of the NFL seasons since PASPA was overturned by the US Supreme Court have been some of the worst seasons for modern favorites on record.

NFL Betting Splits

Of course, no one stands there and buys a ticket for literally every favorite, all year, every season. But the bad-and-getting-worse nature of favorites in the ATS market underscores how valuable it is for bettors to get creative in the never-ending quest to find value.

If you insist on laying the points, one tried-and-true method for identifying valuable NFL spread favorites is to look at the betting data. 

There’s a popular saying in advantage handicapping circles: “Public dogs have fleas.”

If one team is a favorite, there’s probably a good reason for that. And if the overall betting public isn’t keying in on that reason, there’s a better-than-average chance that a favorite may actually be undervalued.

Read More: Current Super Bowl Odds for 2023-24 NFL Champion

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.