- The most overrated NFL ATS teams from the last few years are all from the AFC.
- Negative ATS trends are almost always about failed expectations.
- NFL teams playing at home have been failing since even before 2020.
Here’s a bit of research I did on behalf of all the NFL bettors out there, grinding their way through all that NFL odds history during this offseason.
There are plenty of elegantly elaborate betting systems that can identify and isolate profitable betting spots. Here’s one that’s perfectly uncomplicated.
Most Overrated NFL Teams To Bet On
There are thousands of ways to sort NFL teams based on various systems of broad categorization, statistical analysis, and analytics. That makes it hard to assign a definitive title like “most overrated” to just one specific scenario.
There is one easy situation that even novice bettors can understand, though: home teams.
From an early age, sports fans are groomed to believe in the mythical powers of home-field advantage. Even winning handicappers can see a raucous home crowd and buy into the hype, especially after a false start penalty or two.
But overall, that data is pretty clear about the waning influence of the so-called home-field advantage in the NFL.
If you bet every home team against the spread over the last five NFL, you’d have lost money every season. Per Bet Labs, NFL home teams are 602-663-27 ATS in the regular season, dating back to the start of the 2018 season. That’s good for a -7.6% ROI.
In 2020, quite a bit of hay was made around the declining home-field advantage that teams were allegedly experiencing. Many analysts tied it to fresh Covid-era policies limiting the crowd’s presence and power.
But 2020 was actually the best ATS season for home teams in the last five years, underscoring how even smart NFL analysts often arrive at narrative-driven conclusions rather than data-driven ones.
Home teams yielded a -2.9% ROI in 2020; in other recent years, home teams suffered far more dramatic ATS losses. In 2019, for example, home teams yielded an ROI loss of nearly -16%.
The 2022 season was a bit closer to the mean, with a negative ROI of about -6%.
Obviously, there are still dozens of strong home team bets every season. Single-game NFL odds can’t be written off simply because the team you like is playing at home.
However, it does suggest how NFL bettors have, over time, come to grossly overvalue of benefits of playing at home – especially as modern conveniences like private jets and organizational infrastructure have minimized the challenges of NFL road games.
Many NFL experts now agree that a modern home-field advantage is often worth less than the traditional three points.
Average NFL point spread for home teams per @EvanHAbrams
Home-field advantage decreasing.
— John Ewing (@johnewing) November 3, 2022
Worst NFL Teams
As a part of my investigation into overrated NFL teams, I looked at which organizations have produced the worst NFL teams against the spread over the last few years.
The results are fascinating. Only four teams have a negative ATS record each of the last three regular seasons, and they’re all in the AFC:
- Cleveland Browns (21-29 combined ATS record)
- Kansas City Chiefs (21-28-1 combined ATS record)
- New York Jets (20-30 combined ATS record)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (20-30 combined ATS record)
NFL ATS Records Are All About Expectations
More broadly, it’s important to remember the relationship between NFL ATS records and expectations.
Unlike moneylines, which are a more pure reflection of the performance gap between two teams, point spreads are a more market-driven team correction. More often than not, a point spread speaks to how the football betting community feels about a particular team’s strengths and weaknesses.
And there’s more than one way to fail to meet expectations.
Let’s revisit recent performances. In 2022, the worst ATS team in the NFL was Tampa Bay. The Bucs were 4-12-1 against the number. Bettors loved Tom Brady and the overall roster, so the point spreads remained high.
It took bettors months to realize that the Bucs just weren’t very good. In the most classic of senses, they failed to meet the expectations of NFL fans. And who can blame them? Bettors had watched the same core of players win a Super Bowl just two years earlier.
There’s a bit more nuance in the failure of a team like the Browns, which raised expectations after a late-season surge in 2020.
A surprising Wild Card victory over the Steelers raised the expectations for Baker Mayfield and the Browns in 2021, but the team failed to recapture the magic it found with its run game and play action late in 2020.
A team like Kansas City has a particularly special status in such an analysis. The Chiefs are legitimately good and regularly deliver on general expectations, having won two Super Bowls in the last four seasons.
However, the Chiefs are so popular as a betting target that their point spreads are often hyperinflated.
First, an online sportsbook might hang them as a point or two higher than usual – think of it as a success surtax. Then, the market pounds the Chiefs throughout game week, further moving the line.
This kind of market action creates a specific kind of ATS failure, even as on-field expectations are consistently met. If anything, it’s the on-field success that drives the market failure, which is the sort of ATS trend you only see with winning, hyper-public teams. In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors show similar trendlines.
This all ties back to home-field advantage because of the market expectations.
When bettors believe that good teams will protect home field with near-flawless success rates, that leads to inflated market expectations and point spreads. That, in turn, crashes the ATS numbers for modern NFL teams.
Savvy NFL bettors can use this to their advantage by shading their action toward road teams – especially when the line moves toward the home team throughout the week.
NFL Online Sports Betting
BetMGM is the premier online sports betting destination for NFL odds each year.
From offseason futures betting like Super Bowl odds or NFL MVP odds to in-season betting on spreads, over/under totals, and player props, there are thousands of betting opportunities regardless of your football knowledge and betting expertise.