NFL Betting Trends: Underdogs, Unders Continue To Pay Off

Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers
Image Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The words have been ingrained in your brain from the moment you told your Uncle Vinny that you won your first bet: “Just remember, kid — there’s no such thing as a sure thing.”

Uncle Vinny’s advice has served you well over the years (and will continue to do so). Although with each passing week of the 2021 NFL season, heeding that advice has become exceedingly difficult. The reason: A bunch of NFL betting trends are slowly shifting from “strong tendencies” to “damn-near sure things.”

We explain more in the Week 13 edition of the NFL Betting Trends Report.

All statistics based off closing numbers per

Trends Last Week Season Overall
Favorites SU 8-7 107-72-1
Favorites ATS 7-8 78-101-1
Over/Under 7-8 78-100-2

This Season Is For The Dogs

Arizona Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin celebrates after rushing for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers
Image Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

To be clear, we would never — not for a hot second — consider calling the 2021 NFL season “predictable” (last thing we’d ever do is intentionally enrage the gambling gods). That said, numbers don’t lie, and these numbers will open your eyes faster than a bucket of ice water to the face at 3 a.m.:

Even though the last two weeks have been a dead-even split (with favorites/underdogs going 15-15 ATS), ’dogs are still cashing at a healthy 56.4 percent clip for the season. In the last five weeks alone, underdogs are 44-28-1 ATS.

Putting that latter figure in real-money terms, if you wagered $110 on every underdog since Week 7, you’d be up $1,320.

Just how much of a grind has it been to bet the chalk this season? Favorites have outperformed underdogs just three times in 12 weeks: Week 5 (9-7 ATS), Week 6 (8-6 ATS), and Week 7 (7-6 ATS). That’s it.

What’s more, only three teams have produced substantial profits as a chalk: The Packers (6-2 ATS), Patriots (6-3 ATS, including 5-0 in their last five), and Cowboys (5-2 ATS). Remove that cumulative 17-7 ATS mark, and favorites are 61-94-1 ATS for the season. That’s a straight-to-the-poorhouse 39.4 percent success rate.

The Steelers (0-5 ATS), Raiders (0-3 ATS), Rams (3-7 ATS), Chiefs (4-7 ATS), Ravens (3-6 ATS), and Saints (1-4 ATS) have been particularly dreadful when laying points. Conversely, the “top dogs” this season have been the Cardinals (5-0 ATS), Packers (4-0 ATS), Titans (5-1 ATS), Vikings (5-1 ATS), and Lions (7-4 ATS).

Overhyped & Undervalued  

Washington Football Team defensive tackle Daron Payne (left) hits Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (right) after passing the ball
Image Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Just as underdog bettors have made a killing this season, so too have Under bettors. In fact, for the season, the Under is 100-78-2 — a record that virtually mirrors that of underdogs (101-78-1 ATS).

Without question, the top Under team has been the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll’s squad is 9-1-1 to the Under overall, including 8-0-1 in its last nine games. Combined point totals in the last five: 32, 36, 17, 38 and 23. Also, the Over has yet to cash in a Seahawks road game (5-0-1 Under) — worth nothing, since Seattle travels to San Francisco this week.

The Seahawks are hardly alone in the low-scoring department. The Jaguars have stayed low in nine of their last 10 games, including the last six in a row; the Broncos have stayed low in nine of 11 this season, including the last five in a row; and the Bears and Lions are 8-3 to the Under, with Detroit topping the total just once in its last nine contests.

Looking for a dominant Over team? There’s a grand total of one: The Indianapolis Colts have hurdled the total in eight of 12 games. Next in line are the Titans (7-5 to the Over) and Rams (6-4-1).

Ready For Prime Time

Image Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Two of the most bankable NFL betting trends this season have revolved around prime-time games. And, of course, the prime-time spotlight has shined brightly on … underdogs and Unders.

While favorites are 24-12 SU in marquee Thursday/Sunday/Monday night matchups, underdogs are 23-13 ATS. And since Week 4, pups have cashed in 18 of 27 prime-time contests (66.7%).

Also going back to Week 4, the Under is 18-8-1 in prime-time action — this after eight of the first nine prime-time games soared Over the total.

With the Bills and Saints falling way short of the total on Thanksgiving Night, the Under is now 9-1 on Thursday nights the past 10 weeks. And after the 17-15 Washington-Seattle barnburner in Week 12, the Under has hit in five of the last six Monday Night Football clashes.

This week’s prime-time schedule begins with Dallas at New Orleans in the Thursday nighter, followed by Denver-Kansas City on Sunday night and New England-Buffalo on Monday. Consensus totals in those three contests: 47.5, 47 and 44 (respectively).

One more Under trend that’s less explainable than the popularity of the Kardashian clan: The Under has cashed in 65.5 percent of AFC vs. NFC matchups (38-20-1). Although three of last week’s five interconference games went Over, the Under remains 18-8 (69.2%) in such clashes during the past five weeks.

This week’s AFC-NFC battles (and totals) include: Eagles at Jets (45.5), Giants at Dolphins (41.5/42), Washington at Raiders (49.5), and Jaguars at Rams (48).

Note that the Giants (5-0 last five), Dolphins (4-1 last five), and Washington (5-1 last five) enter Week 13 riding strong Under streaks.

Trending In Different Directions

New England Patriots running back Damian Williams rushes in the open field during a game
Image Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s close with some additional NFL betting trends that are relevant to this week’s slate of 15 games:

— Although they went 2-1 SU and ATS in Week 12, favorites of six points or more remain just 8-21-1 ATS over the past five weeks. This week, seven teams are laying big numbers, including five road favorites (odds via The SuperBook):

  • Eagles (-6.5 at Jets)
  • Vikings (-7 at Lions)
  • Cardinals (-7.5 at Bears)
  • Colts (-9 at Vikings)
  • Chiefs (-10 vs. Broncos)
  • Buccaneers (-11 at Falcons)
  • Rams (-12.5 vs. Jaguars)

— Tampa Bay is a perfect 4-for-4 as a double-digit favorite (albeit all at home). The Bucs are facing a Falcons squad that is 0-4 ATS in true home games. Also, the straight-up winner has covered the spread in all 11 of Atlanta’s games this season.

— The Vikings are 4-1 ATS on the road (first non-cover was last week at San Francisco), while Detroit has brought home the money in three consecutive weeks.

— The Cardinals are 8-3 ATS overall, including 6-0 ATS on the road; the Bears are 4-7 ATS overall and 2-6 ATS as an underdog.

— Not only has Denver stayed low in five straight games, but Kansas City has done so in five of its last six (including three straight at home).

— The Jaguars and Rams are both 4-7 ATS, although L.A. has failed to cash in five consecutive games.

— Finally, Green Bay (which is on bye this week) remains atop the spread-covering mountain at 10-2 ATS (including 10-1 ATS since a Week 1 loss to New Orleans). However, the hottest point-spread team remains New England. The Patriots have covered (and won) six games in a row. They’ll try to make it 7-for-7 when they close out Week 13 as a 2.5-point underdog at Buffalo on Monday night.

ATS Standings

Packers 10-2
Cowboys 8-3
Cardinals 8-3
Patriots 8-4
Lions 7-4

Jets 3-8
Bears 4-7
Chiefs 4-7
Jaguars 4-7
Rams 4-7
Steelers 4-7
Washington 4-7

Over/Under Standings

Colts 8-4
Titans 7-5
Rams 6-4-1
(7 teams tied at 6-5)

Seahawks 1-9-1
Jaguars 2-9
Broncos 2-9
Bears 3-8
Lions 3-8
Giants 3-7-1