Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton
- The Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers are coming off of blowout losses in Week 7.
- Using our Bet Labs software, we analyze how NFL teams have performed against the spread the week after an ugly defeat.
NFL ratings are up in 2018. Competitive games are a big reason for the ratings bump. Sixty games have been decided by eight points or fewer through Week 7, tied for the second most in league history.
In each of the seven weeks, at least one game has gone to overtime — the first time that has happened since the overtime rule was established in 1974.
Close games are exciting but bettors remember blowouts. Oddsmakers know that casual bettors will overreact to recent results and will shade the lines in anticipation of public perceptions.
Teams that exceed expectations by winning and covering easily are likely to be overvalued by those casual gamblers while those that get blown out will be undervalued.
Since 2003, teams that lost their previous game by 21 or more points have gone 362-310-15 (53.9%) against the spread (ATS) the following week per Bet Labs. The larger the margin of defeat the better these teams have performed for gamblers:
Teams are undervalued after a big loss but it is important to consider whom the team lost to. Getting blown out by the Patriots is better than losing by three scores to the Bills. Any team can get rolled by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but an ugly loss to one of the league’s worst teams is a bad omen for gamblers.
Though most bettors view all blowouts the same, there is added value targeting teams that lose to a quality opponent. We define a quality opponent as a team that has won two out of every three games this season — that would be the equivalent of a 10-win team over a full season.
Since 2003, teams coming off a loss by 20 or more points against a quality opponent has gone 173-127-7 (57.7%) ATS. If the loss occurs in Week 8 or later in the season, when the opponent’s win percentage is more indicative of their underlying talent, the against the spread win rate improves:
Gamblers following this strategy have won more than 60% of their bets since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,738 tailing this system.
Cincinnati Bengals (-4) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, FOX): The Bengals lost 45-10 to the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football last weekend. Cincinnati’s offense should have more success against a Tampa defense that ranks 32nd in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA and is giving up an NFL-worst 32.7 points per game.
San Francisco 49ers (-1) at Arizona Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): The 49ers are a small road favorite in Arizona on Sunday after losing 39-10 at home to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. It’s a small sample but teams matching this system favored on the road have gone 17-8-1 (68%) ATS since 2003.