Oddsmakers’ Biggest NFL Risers and Fallers at the Halfway Mark

Nov 07, 2018 10:05 PM EST
  • Every NFL team is now through the first half of the regular season, which makes this a perfect opportunity for a mid-season betting review.
  • The Chicago Bears lead the way, being favored by an average of 5.4 points more than their preseason lookahead lines, the highest margin in the NFL.
  • Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers have failed to meet first-half expectations, according to preseason point spreads.

We’ve finally made it! Every NFL team has now played at least eight games during the 2018 season, which means we have officially entered the second half.

Before the season kicked off back on Sept. 6, CG Technology released lookahead point spreads for every NFL game between Weeks 1 and 16.

Now, after eight games from each team, it’s time to look at which teams have had the biggest adjustment from the preseason to now when it comes to the point spreads.

Whether due to injuries, overreactions, performance or perception, let’s take a look the teams that shook the NFL betting world during the first half of 2018.


The Risers

Chicago Bears

W-L Straight Up: 5-3
Preseason Win Total: 7.5
Against The Spread (thru 8 games): 5-3

Through eight games, no NFL team exceeded preseason expectations in terms of the point spread more than the Chicago Bears.

The Bears were favored by an average of 5.4 points per game (PPG) more than preseason lookahead lines through eight total games, the highest margin in the NFL.

That margin included their Week 9 game against the Bills, which originally had Chicago +1.5 in Buffalo in the preseason, but closed with the Bears favored by 10.5 points.

The 12-point differential was the largest for any game played in the first nine weeks.

AFC North

W-L Straight Up: Bengals (5-3), Ravens (4-5), Browns (2-6-1)
Preseason Win Total: Bengals (7), Ravens (8.5), Browns (6)
Against The Spread (thru 8 games): Bengals (4-4), Ravens (4-4), Browns (4-4)

There really wasn’t any other choice but to group the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns together.

Collectively, the three AFC North teams rank 4th, 5th and 6th on this list in terms of exceeding expectations and all three teams were exactly 4-4 against the spread (ATS) through their first eight games.

The most surprising team of the bunch is the Cleveland Browns, who closed with a worse spread in six of their first eight games.

This has been a big year so far in Cleveland. The Browns won their first game straight up (SU) since December of 2016 and they were listed as the betting favorite for the first time since December of 2015.

Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs

W-L Straight Up: Rams (8-1), Chiefs (8-1)
Preseason Win Total: Rams (10), Chiefs (8.5)
Against The Spread (thru 8 games): Rams (4-4), Chiefs (8-1)

Both the Rams and Chiefs enter the second half of the regular season with the best records in the NFL, at 8-1.

The Rams are right behind the Bears on our list, being favored by an average of 5.3 PPG more than their preseason lookahead lines. In all eight games, the Rams have closed with at least a 3-point difference between their lookahead line and the closing line.

For the Chiefs, expectations have been through the roof.

Kansas City is 8-1 ATS, the most profitable team in the NFL, and since Andy Reid took over as Chiefs head coach in 2013, 54-34-1 ATS, making Reid the third-most profitable coach in the NFL behind just Bill Belichick and Mike Zimmer.


The Fallers

Buffalo Bills

W-L Straight Up: 2-7
Preseason Win Total: 5.5
Against The Spread (thru 8 games): 3-5

There really wasn’t too much of a dramatic reveal when it came to the team failing to meet expectations the most in 2018. The Buffalo Bills are 2-7 SU this season, being outscored by 145 total points and are the only team in the NFL to score fewer than 100 total points.

The Bills have been listed as underdogs of at least six points in each of their first eight games, including being an underdog of a touchdown or more in their other seven games.

Pittsburgh Steelers

W-L Straight Up: 5-2-1
Preseason Win Total: 10.5
Against The Spread (thru 8 games): 5-3

As mentioned above, the Bengals, Ravens and Browns have greatly exceeded expectations in the first half of the season. But when it comes to the preseason favorites to win the division (Pittsburgh Steelers), 2018 hasn’t been as kind.

The Steelers are currently one of four teams (joining the Patriots, Panthers, Dolphins) who are over .500 so far this season with a positive (or underdog) spread differential between their preseason lookahead point spreads and their closing lines.

Green Bay Packers

W-L Straight Up: 3-4-1
Preseason Win Total: 10
Against The Spread (thru 8 games): 3-5

The Packers opened the regular season with the point spread in their first five games being better than the preseason lookahead lines (ex. -8.5 to -6.5).

The Packers were just one of three teams to have that occur through at least their first five games this season. The other two teams were the Steelers (all eight games) and the Raiders (first seven games).

Credit:

USA TODAY Sports pictured: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks with linebacker Khalil Mack (52) following a play during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Credit: Jeff Hanisch

Follow Evan Abrams on Twitter
@EvanHAbrams

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