We’re one-fourth of the way through the NFL season, and so far there have been plenty of surprises, disappointments, notable trends and interesting facts.
Whether you’ve been betting the NFL since the opening kickoff or are hoping to get in on the action in the coming weeks, this Quarter-Way Review should catch you up to speed on everything you need to know going forward.
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BEST ATS TEAMS
Houston Texans (4-0): Houston was a trendy Super Bowl pick in the preseason and has lived up to the hype through the first four weeks. The Texans are 4-0 straight up and ATS, beating teams by an average of 17.5 points per game and covering by an average of nine. If you count the 2011 playoffs, Houston is 11-2-2 ATS over its last 15 games.
Arizona Cardinals (3-1): Three teams have posted 3-1 ATS records, but the Cardinals are the lone team that has won three games outright as underdogs. Arizona covered as a 1-point dog against Seattle; as a 13-point dog against New England; and as a 3-point dog against Philadelphia. The Cards will have a chance to make it four on Thursday against the Rams, who are currently one-point favorites.
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WORST ATS TEAMS
Detroit Lions (0-4): At this same time last year, the Lions held the best ATS record in the NFL at 3-0-1. This season, however, Detroit has been wildly inconsistent and is quickly becoming the league’s most overrated team. The Lions are o-3 ATS as favorites, including two outright losses against Tennessee and Minnesota.
Philadelphia Eagles (0-3-1): The Eagles have won three games by a combined four points, and that has helped them to a 3-1 record, tops in the NFC East. But they’ve stunk when it comes to covering the spread, failing to cover twice on the road (at Cleveland and Arizona), and twice at home (Ravens and Giants).
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BEST OVER TEAM
Washington Redskins (4-0): Robert Griffin III has been as good as advertised for the Redskins, passing for 1,070 yards, rushing for 252 and scoring eight total touchdowns (four rushing) in the first month. His immediate impact, and the lack of depth defensively, has made Washington the best ‘over’ team in the NFL. Redskins games have gone over the total by an average of 14.8 points per game.
BEST UNDER TEAM
Seattle Seahawks (4-0): Seattle has a talented defense, which was on display in its Monday night “victory” over the Packers, but the offense isn’t quite there yet. Seattle ranks 28th in scoring (17.5 points per game), and second in points allowed (14.5), which has resulted in all four games going under the total.
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Betting on underdogs. If all you did was place a bet on each underdog through the first four weeks, you’d have won 62 percent of your bets. Overall, underdogs are 38-23-2 ATS (62%), including 27 outright victories. Home dogs have been just as profitable, covering the spread at a rate of 60 percent and winning 13 of 23 games outright.
The Arizona Cardinals are just three wins away from surpassing their season win total (6.5) and are on their way to becoming this year’s version of the Cincinnati Bengals. You might recall that we picked the Bengals to finish 0-16 in 2011, and they promptly advanced to the playoffs. We weren’t as low on the Cardinals by comparison, but we certainly didn’t see this coming.
The New Orleans Saints are one of only two winless teams, and given all the offseason noise (BountyGate, suspensions, etc.), it’s mildly surprising to see this team get off to such a bad start. The Saints’ win total closed at 9.5 or 10 almost everywhere, but they might actually finish with double-digit losses. The remaining schedule includes games against Atlanta (2), San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia, New York Giants and Dallas.
WIN TOTAL WATCH — OVER
The Cardinals and Falcons look to be locks for the over. Both teams are 4-0 and both teams won’t require stellar finishes to surpass their win totals. Arizona’s hot start put them in a position where they only have to win three of their final 12 games in order to go over. Atlanta, meanwhile, just needs to finish 6-6.
The Texans had an over/under win total of 10.5 and are 4-0 entering this week’s matchup with the Jets. Houston looks like the best team in the league and is playing in arguably the league’s worst division. So, a 7-5 finish shouldn’t be a problem.
WIN TOTAL WATCH — UNDER
The Saints are almost certainly going under their season win total of 9.5. They’ve struggled in every game and winning 10 of their last 12 games seems highly unlikely. The Lions are in a similar position and need to finish 9-3 to go over their win total of nine.
New England (12) and Green Bay (11.5) might struggle too. There isn’t much margin for error for either team.
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UPDATED DIVISIONAL ODDS
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UPDATED SUPER BOWL ODDS