BTB note: This latest edition of the Mailbag was submitted on the BTB Forum, which you can visit by clicking here. If you have any questions you might be curious about, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @beyondthebets.
Q: How do NFL teams fare against the spread the week after getting blown out? It’s hard to define what the term “blowout” means, but maybe you could use a 21-point margin of victory?
A: Thanks for the question, Chiefzilla, and this is somewhat timely and relevant given the fact that there were three such blowouts in the NFL last weekend. Tennessee lost 38-17 at Pittsburgh, Arizona lost 34-10 at Minnesota, and Tampa Bay lost 48-3 at San Francisco. Unfortunately, the Titans and Cardinals are both on bye this week, so that leaves the Buccaneers as the only possible play as a current 4.5-point home underdog against New Orleans.
Not surprisingly, only 10 percent of the betting public thinks the Bucs can cover the spread.
I looked back through the past three seasons (I might update it even more later), and there were a total of 139 blowout games in that span, which seemed like a fairly substantial sample size.
As suspected, very rarely did the public want to bet on a team that had been blown out in the previous week. An average of 44.87 percent of the public bet on such teams as the public looked to fade what they perceived to be a team going in the tank.
Unfortunately for them, that didn’t prove to be a profitable betting strategy.
Teams that lost by 21 or more points in one week went on to post a combined ATS record of 80-57-2 (.583) in the following game. That’s a significant stat on its own, but it becomes even more intriguing when you break it down further.
The way I see it, there are two possible thought processes a bettor might take when a team gets blown out:
- If the team is perceived to be good (Patriots, Cowboys, Steelers, etc.), most bettors will probably think it was a fluke performance and that the team will be angry and want to destroy the opponent in its next game.
- If it’s the opposite, and a team like the Rams, Cardinals or (pre-2010) Lions got destroyed, that only reinforces the public opinion that those teams stink, and bettors will be looking to go against them in the following game.
In the first scenario, oddsmakers are likely one step ahead of bettors and will favor the losing team in its next game, maybe even by a point or two more than they would normally.
In the second scenario, the exact opposite likely occurs. Not only will the team that got blown out be an underdog the next week, but quite often by a lot of points.
So, here’s the further breakdown. Since 2008, teams that lost by 21 or more points in one week and were favored the following week went just 21-23 ATS (.477). Teams that lost by 21 or more points and were underdogs in their next game had astounding ATS success, posting a 59-34-2 (.634) record, including 33 outright victories.
Most notably, underdogs of less than a touchdown (like the Bucs this weekend), were 21-11-2 (.656) ATS with 18 outright victories.
Just something to keep in mind before you go betting the Saints at -4.5 against the Bucs like the other eight people sitting next to you.