NFL Week 7 betting lessons: Big favorites like Buccaneers having no trouble covering

·3 min read

You don't see many double-digit favorites in the NFL. The league is too competitive for that. The worst teams aren't that far behind the best teams. 

That's why it has made sense to blindly take double-digit underdogs. Maybe that philosophy needs to change. 

There were three double digit-favorites on Sunday and two covered easily. The easiest cover was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were 12-point favorites and won 38-3. The two other teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 7, the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, also covered. There's a reason survival pools still have everyone alive. 

This season, betting double-digit underdogs has not turned out well. Including the Week 7 results, underdogs of 10 or more are 3-8, according to Stathead

That's a small sample, but there could be reason for big favorites covering. First, there does seem to be a bigger gap between the best and worst teams than usual. A team like the Houston Texans, which is 1-3 as a big underdog, is nowhere near the level of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were 18-point favorites on Sunday and won 31-5. 

The shift in fourth-down aggression might matter too. For decades, coaches made decisions not to try everything they could to win, but to avoid being blown out. It didn't make a lot of sense, but how often would you see a coach down 17 points punt it away in the fourth quarter? Coaches have finally figured out that going for it more often is beneficial. They don't worry as often about being shamed for how much they lose by anymore, so they're less likely to make cowardly punts. For bettors, that also means there could be some easy points for the favorite when those fourth downs don't work. 

Whatever the reason, taking big underdogs hasn't been a good strategy this season. Keep that in mind if you're thinking about taking the Dolphins +13.5 vs. the Bills, the Texans +14.5 vs. the Rams or the Giants +10 against the Chiefs. 

Shaquil Barrett (58) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blew out the Bears on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Shaquil Barrett (58) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blew out the Bears on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

Recency bias strikes again

Through five weeks, the Baltimore Ravens were a good team that had gotten pretty lucky to win some close games, most notably against the Lions and Colts. Then they blew out the Los Angeles Chargers and everyone figured they were elite. 

Sometimes, it's best to ignore what you just saw when it comes to the NFL. The Ravens went from blowing out the Chargers to being blown out by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens were 6.5-point favorites and lost 41-17. It was a rough outing. Those who bet on the Ravens expecting them to keep rolling were very disappointed. 

Betting against the teams that looked the best or betting on the teams that looked the worst the previous week has always been a decent strategy in NFL betting. That's unlikely to ever change. 

Road team regression? 

Home teams finally did pretty well against the spread in Week 7. Before Monday night's game, home teams were 8-4 against the spread. That moves to 9-3 if you got the Miami Dolphins at +2.5 instead of the closing number of +1.5. Home teams were 9-3 straight up. Then the home Seahawks covered on Monday night as a 5-point underdog, though they didn't win. 

Road teams have done very well this season, and the erosion of home-field advantage in the NFL has been an important trend for bettors to track. There was a little bit of revenge from the home teams in Week 7, and now bettors need to monitor if that's the start of another streak. 

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