You already knew the Patriots’ loss to the Cardinals over the weekend was rare, but maybe you didn’t know this:
Over the past 24 seasons in the NFL, that was only the 35th time that a team favored by at least 13.5 points has lost the game outright, an average of roughly 1 ½ upsets per year.
Some other facts:
- Favorites of 13.5 or more are 208-35 (.856) straight up but just 111-129-3 (.463) ATS since 1989 (the first year available in KillerSports.com’s SDQL database).
- Four teams—the 1991 Washington Redskins, 1992 & 1995 Dallas Cowboys and 2009 New Orleans Saints—lost a game as a favorite of at least 13.5 points and then went on to win the Super Bowl.
- The biggest upset in that time frame was the Cowboys losing as 17.5-point favorites to the Washington Redskins in 1995. The Buffalo Bills lost back-to-back games as 17-point favorites in 1992 but still went on to win the AFC.
So it’s clear that losing a game as such a gigantic favorite isn’t a death sentence for the rest of the season. The most important question now, though, is how these teams do in the game after suffering such a gigantic upset.
We took a look at these upsets, tossed out the games that occurred in Weeks 16 or 17 (which generally have some wacky results as a result of benched starters), and that left us with a 30-game sample size.
HOW DO TEAMS THAT LOSE AS AT LEAST 13.5-POINT FAVORITES BOUNCE BACK?
Straight Up: 21-9 (.700)
Against the Spread: 18-12 (.600)
As a Favorite: 11-10 ATS (.524)
As an Underdog: 7-2 ATS (.777)
All seven times these teams covered as underdogs in the following game, it was also an outright victory. That’s particularly relevant because it looks like New England will be an underdog at Baltimore in Week 3 on Sunday Night Football.
This is obviously an extremely small sample size, so we shouldn’t make too much of it either way, but a situation like this will inherently always have a small sample size, unless the NFL keeps going until the year 2812.