NFL Point Spread Report: Cowboys Riding High Once Again

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons flexing during game
Image Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The ATS penthouse has a new solo tenant (as does the ATS outhouse). Double-digit favorites continue to pay off. Prime-time favorites are enjoying a resurgence. And after a very brief hiatus, the prime-time Under train is rolling once again.

We cover all these topics and more — including breaking down this season’s most profitable favorites and underdogs — in this week’s NFL Point Spread Report.

All statistics based off closing numbers per

Trends Last Week Season Overall
Favorites SU 10-5 149-89-1
Favorites ATS 8-7 113-124-2
Over/Under 9-7 108-129-3

Bettors Cash In On Big D

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott raises his arms to signal a touchdown
Image Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Here’s how wild this season has been from an NFL betting trends perspective: The Dallas Cowboys started the season 7-0 ATS (after going an NFL-worst 5-11 ATS in 2020). The run then came to a screeching halt on Nov. 7 when the Cowboys became the second team this season to lose outright as a double-digit favorite (30-16 loss to Denver as a 10-point home favorite).

That kicked off a month-long stretch in which Dallas went 1-3 SU and ATS. Since then? The Cowboys have won and covered four in a row, including last week’s 56-14 annihilation of Washington.

By easily cashing as a 10-point home chalk against The Football Team, Mike McCarthy’s team — yes, that Mike McCarthy — owns the NFL’s best point spread record at 12-3. The Cowboys regained their spot atop the ATS mountain because the Packers failed to cover as a 7.5-point home favorite in their 24-22 Christmas Day win over the Browns.

Green Bay has now followed an astounding 11-1 ATS spree — which included a whopping nine consecutive covers from Sept. 20-Nov. 14 — with back-to-back ATS setbacks. It’s the first time all season that the Packers (11-4 ATS) have cost bettors in consecutive games.

As you would expect from two teams that are a combined 23-7 ATS, Dallas and Green Bay are crushing it for bettors in multiple ways:

— The Packers are an NFL-best 6-1 ATS at home (the lone setback coming last week vs. Cleveland). The Cowboys are tied with the Buccaneers and Lions at 5-2 ATS at home.

— Dallas is 7-1 ATS on the road, tied with Arizona for the league’s top mark. (Green Bay is a modest 5-3 ATS on the highway).

— The Cowboys are the NFL’s most profitable favorite (9-2 ATS); the Packers are next in line at 7-4 (tied with New England).

— Green Bay (4-0 ATS) joins Arizona (5-0 ATS) as the only teams unbeaten as an underdog against the number; Dallas is 3-1 ATS as a pup.

Double Trouble For Bookmakers

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates as he walks off the field after their game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Image Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

With the exception of Dallas’ stunning Week 9 upset loss to Denver, the Cowboys and Packers also have excelled as double-digit favorites this season. They’re a combined 4-1 SU and ATS in that role — and they’re hardly alone.

The NFL’s elite teams in 2021 have flipped the bird at the Sports Betting 101 Handbook, which cautions bettors on Page 1 that they’d have more success blindly wagering on cricket and jai alai matches than consistently backing double-digit favorites in the NFL.

After going 4-1 SU and ATS in Week 16, double-digit favorites are now 33-7 on the scoreboard and 24-14-2 ATS at the betting window. That’s a 63.2 percent hit rate. Putting that into perspective, consider this:

Even though the underdog/favorite gap has closed significantly in the last month — thanks to favorites going 35-23-1 ATS the past four weeks — ’dogs remain slightly profitable for the season (52.3%). If you were to remove the 24-14-2 ATS record of double-digit favorites, that 52.3 percent underdog success rate would jump to 55.3 percent (110-89-2 ATS).

Another profitable venture for square bettors this season: Blindly back the biggest home favorite of the week. Including instances when multiple home teams were laying the same number, the biggest home chalk of the week is 17-2 SU and 12-6-1 ATS. The latest squad in this role was the Eagles, who last week dusted the Giants 34-10 as an 11-point home favorite.

There are four double-digit favorites on the Week 17 NFL odds board, none bigger than the Patriots. New England, which is coming off consecutive defeats after a 7-0 SU/ATS run, is a consensus 15.5-point home chalk against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Patriots started out 1-3 ATS at home but have cashed in three of their last four in Foxborough. Also, since opening the season 1-3 ATS as a favorite, New England is 5-1 ATS when laying points. (The one exception in both instances: Last week’s 33-21 loss to Buffalo as a 1-point home choice).

As for the Pats’ opponent this week, well …

Jaguars Hit Rock Bottom 

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer reacts during the second half against the Tennessee Titans
Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

So on second thought, maybe it wasn’t all Urban Meyer’s fault. When the rookie NFL coach was unceremoniously kicked to the curb 13 games into his Jacksonville tenure, the Jaguars were 4-9 ATS. Two weeks later — following consecutive losses to the moribund Texans and equally moribund Jets — they’re 4-11 ATS.

After entering last week tied with the Jets and Bears for the NFL’s worst point-spread record, Jacksonville now has the ATS basement all to itself. That’s because Chicago halted a five-game ATS slide by rallying past the Seahawks in Seattle to “improve” to 5-10 ATS (same as the Jets).

A breakdown of the Jaguars’ woeful point spread record reveals the following: They’re 2-6 ATS at home (only the Falcons at 1-6 ATS are worse); they’re 2-5 ATS on the road (tied with the Jets for worst in the league); they’re 0-2 ATS as a favorite (two losses to Houston); and they’re 4-9 ATS as an underdog (only Chicago’s 3-9 ATS mark as a pup is worse).

In addition to its equipment and a bunch of demoralized players, Jacksonville will lug a seven-game SU and six-game ATS losing skid to New England in Week 17. But as dreadful as the Jags — and, for that matter, the Bears and Jets — have been for bettors this season, another team is in an even worse funk.

Since the calendar flipped to October, the Carolina Panthers — who got off to a 3-0 SU/ATS start — are 2-10 SU/ATS. (Insert your Sam Darnold/Cam Newton joke here.)

Here’s how bad things are for the Panthers: They’re catching 6.5 points at New Orleans this week — and the Saints haven’t won a home game since Halloween. In fact, New Orleans is 1-5 SU/ATS in the Superdome this season.

Prime-Time Profits 

Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II (20) and middle linebacker Malcolm Smith (56) tackle Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell (24) during a game
Image Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A big reason why underdogs delivered healthy profits through the season’s first 2½ months was the performance of prime-time pups. Through the first 10 weeks, underdogs in Thursday/Sunday/Monday night games were just 11-19 SU but 21-9 ATS.

The script has flipped significantly in the past six weeks, with favorites going 13-5 SU and 12-6 ATS. During this stretch, favorites have gone 2-1 ATS each week; 4-1 SU/ATS on Thursday; 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS on Sunday nights; and 3-3 SU/ATS on Monday.

Regarding prime-time totals, it’s once again all about the Unders. After a brief run in which four straight marquee games topped the total — all of Week 14, plus the Week 15 Thursday nighter — the Under has cashed in five of the last six.

The one exception was last Sunday night’s Dallas-Washington laugher, which featured 70 combined points. Total points in the other five recent prime-time games: 95.

Eight of the first nine prime-time games soared over the total; since then, the Under is 25-13-1 (65.8%). Furthermore, the Under is 11-3 on Thursday night since Week 3 and 8-2 on Monday night since Week 7.

For those who’ve sat on the sidelines all season but are now ready to join the prime-time Under party, we have some bad news: The lights are about to go out, as only two marquee games remain. Both are this week, with the Packers hosting the Vikings on Sunday night (46.5 consensus total) and the Steelers entertaining the Browns on Monday (40.5 consensus total).

ATS Records

Cowboys 12-3
Packers 11-4
Colts 10-5
Lions 10-5
Cardinals 9-6
Patriots 9-6
Titans 9-6

Jaguars 4-11
Jets 5-10
Bears 5-10
Panthers 5-10
Washington 5-9-1

Over/Under Records

Eagles 9-6
Jets 9-6
Vikings 9-6
Rams 8-6-1

Broncos 3-12
Jaguars 4-11
Seahawks 4-10-1
Lions 5-10
Giants 5-9-1