It’s easily the worst NFL Sunday of the regular season for sports bettors. Week 17 always features a lot of lame-duck matchups with nothing at stake or games in which must-win favorites are asked to cover inflated lines against uninterested dogs.
But a day you should mostly pass does offer an opportunity to take stock of teams and the betting market as the season ends. In fact, it’s probably best to throw out most Week 17 data anyway because it’s not a real week.
With that in mind, let’s use the final day of the regular season to recap the most overrated and underrated teams of 2019. Point spreads are almost a perfect reflection of how teams are rated by informed observers on a week-by-week basis. Teams failing to cover have been overrated. Teams consistently covering and cashing tickets have been underrated.
The ATS records you see here are from VSiN.com.
— Chicago (4-11 ATS): A combination of regression and generic skill sets caused a so-called budding juggernaut to fall hard from a 12-4 straight-up record in 2018. Betting markets never caught down to the Bears.
— LA Chargers (4-9-2 ATS): Another respected playoff team from last season also fell hard from a 12-4 straight-up record. Quarterback Philip Rivers lost the ability to pull rabbits out of a hat. Then he lost the hat.
— Cincinnati and Detroit (5-10 ATS): These non-contending doormats were hurt some by quarterback injuries.
— Cleveland (5-9-1 ATS): Cleveland wasn’t a playoff team from last season but was supposed to be this year after a coaching change and several personnel moves. Still a no-ring circus.
— Buffalo (9-4-2 ATS): There was so much negative press in the offseason about Josh Allen’s passing accuracy. Oddsmakers, sharps and recreational bettors had trouble believing their eyes when the Bills bullied their way to the playoffs.
— Green Bay, Kansas City, New Orleans, LA Rams (10-5 ATS): All crushed the classic canard that you can’t make money betting public teams. Markets often have trouble keeping up with contenders that are playing well. The Rams ended up missing the playoffs after a Super Bowl run but still cashed 67% of their tickets in games that mattered.
— Baltimore and Pittsburgh (9-6 ATS): The Ravens have covered eight of their last nine, stunning a market that was skeptical quarterback Lamar Jackson could thrive in the NFL.
In all sports, bettors should use point-spread performances to evaluate the betting market. That’s what you’re trying to beat. Learn to develop a sense of what gets overrated and what gets underrated.