NFL Point Spread Report: Will Road Favorites Continue To Roll?

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezikiel Elliott struts into the end zone on a touchdown run
Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys, who were the NFL’s least profitable team to bet on in 2020, remain the most profitable team in 2021. The Arizona Cardinals, who haven’t had a winning record or made the playoffs since 2015, remain the last undefeated team. Patrick Mahomes has only one more victory than a team quarterbacked by someone named Davis Mills. And the Chargers and Bills — two franchises that are a combined 0-for-5 in the Super Bowl — are each 4-1 and look like legit title contenders.

Yes, it’s been a wacky first five weeks of the NFL season in many ways. And in many ways … not so much. After all, the Jaguars and Lions are a combined 0-10. The Jets and Giants are a combined 2-8. And the Raiders are falling apart on and off the field. (Odds that John Gruden leaked his own emails in a classic George Costanza-like attempt to get fired? Even-money.)

Week 6 features a 14-game schedule, as the Falcons, Saints, Jets, and 49ers are on police-blotter watch (er, we mean have a bye). Interestingly, road favorites comprise almost half of this week’s slate, which means a couple of solid NFL betting trends will be put to the test. We also reveal the teams chasing the Cowboys for ATS supremacy, the teams joining the Chiefs in the ATS poorhouse, and the teams that have established some interesting Over/Under trends that are worth tracking.

Let’s get on with this week’s NFL Point Spread Report …

All statistics based off closing numbers per

Trends Last Week Season Overall
Favorites SU 12-4 49-31
Favorites ATS 9-7 35-45
Over/Under 10-6 37-43

Feeling Right At Home On The Road

Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chalk rocked in a big way in Week 5, with favorites going a season-best 12-4 on the scoreboard and 9-7 at the betting window. That latter figure is as modest as modest gets, but it nonetheless represents the first time this season that favorites turned in a profitable week.

Road favorites had a particularly good go of it, winning five of six matchups straight-up while going 4-2 ATS. Going back to Week 2, visitors laying chalk are a sizzling 17-5 overall and a not-so-sizzling-but-still-profitable 13-9 ATS.

This week features six true road favorites, including five usual suspects: the Buccaneers (-7 at Philadelphia); Packers (-4.5 at Chicago); Chiefs (-6.5 at Washington); Rams (-10.5 at Giants); and Cowboys (-4 at New England). The sixth? The Bengals laying 3 points at — you guessed it! — Detroit. Then there’s the Dolphins (1-4) as 3.5-point neutral-site favorites against Jacksonville, in a game that deserves to be shipped to London.

The Rams-Giants line is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:

— It’s the only double-digit spread of the week, and double-digit favorites this season are a perfect 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS.

— This season, the biggest road favorite of the week is 7-0 (includes two instances when teams shared biggest road favorite honors). However, those squads are just 4-3 ATS.

Also worth a mention is the fact that while short favorites (3.5 points or fewer) are still under water for the season (17-20 SU, 15-22 ATS), favorites of 6 points or more are cooking to the tune of 26-5 SU … but only 17-14 ATS. The Bucs, Chiefs, and Rams are currently the only mid-range or higher favorites in Week 6, although the Bills (-5.5 at Tennessee) are on the cusp.

Here Comes The Money … And There Goes The Money 

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb celebrate after scoring a touchdown
Image Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

America’s Team continues to be America’s ATM. After capping a three-game homestand with Sunday’s 44-20 drubbing of the banged-up Giants at Jerry’s World, the Cowboys improved to 5-for-5 against the spread. Nipping at Dallas’ moneymaking heels are four squads at 4-1 ATS: the Cardinals, Chargers, Packers, and Bills (the latter two have each cashed in four consecutive weeks).

While no team faces the ignominy of being 0-5 ATS, there are still five clubs that have taken a blowtorch to bettors’ bankrolls. The Jets, Jaguars, 49ers, Chiefs, and Washington are all 1-4 ATS. Of that quintet, Kansas City stands head and shoulders above (or is it below?) the rest, as Andy Reid’s troops are now 2-13-1 ATS in their last 16 games (playoffs included).

We see your wheels spinning: Wait, didn’t you just say the Chiefs play at Washington this week? Well, someone got an A+ in third-grade reading comprehension. Indeed, The Money Burner Bowl takes place in D.C. on Sunday … where the Football Team has yet to cash a ticket in three tries this season.

A ‘Total’ Reversal Of Fortune

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson makes a catch while being defended by Denver Broncos cornerback Kyle Fuller
Image Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve said it several times already in this space and likely will say it again roughly 823 more times (because we’re old, and old people are forgetful … we think): High-percentage trends don’t tend to hold up for an entire season. Sure enough, one such trend went down hard in Week 5.

Through the season’s first month, the Under had cashed in 16 of 21 games in which the posted total was 45 points or fewer. Last week, three such games qualified for this trend — Broncos-Steelers, Patriots-Texans, Saints-Washington — and all three hurdled the total.

Relatedly, the Chargers joined Denver, Pittsburgh, and New England as teams whose games cleared the total last week after starting out 4-0 to the Under. Also sporting a 1-4 Over/Under mark are the Bears, Panthers, and Seahawks

At the opposite end, after cashing Over tickets in their first four contests, the Rams stayed low in their 26-17 Thursday night victory in Seattle. Los Angeles joins four other offensively prolific (and defensively challenged) squads with a 4-1 Over/Under split: Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Washington.

Two interesting totals tendencies that held up in Week 5: The highest total of the week went Over, albeit barely (the Bills-Chiefs Sunday nighter went off at 57 and ended 38-20). The Over is now 5-1 in such contests, including one week when two games shared highest-total honors.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Kansas City-Washington clash has the biggest total this week at 56.5. Now, before racing to take out that second mortgage and plunking it down on the Chiefs-Football Team Over, we must once again point out a strange-but-true stat: The Under is 17-7 in nonconference matchups this season.

Lights Go Down, Scores Go Up

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen points both fingers to his helmet to signal to the offense before snapping the ball
Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, after a brief hiatus, we’d like to welcome back everybody’s favorite totals trend: the Over in prime-time games. Following a run of four consecutive Unders — all three marquee matchups in Week 4, plus the Rams-Seahawks Thursday night contest in Week 5 — last week’s Sunday (Bills-Chiefs) and Monday (Colts-Ravens) prime-time affairs hurdled the total.

That brings the prime-time tally to 10 Overs, 5 Unders. Three things to note here:

1) The last three Thursday contests have stayed low, meaning the Over is otherwise 10-2 in prime time (including 4-1 on both Sunday and Monday nights).

2) The average combined point total for Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night games is (respectively) 48.6, 54.2, and 54.4.

3) The Week 6 prime-time consensus totals: 52 (Bucs at Eagles, Thursday); 42 (Seahawks at Steelers, Sunday night); and 54.5 (Bills at Titans, Monday).