My NFL betting model had a bad year. Apparently, so did sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
NFL favorites went 135-126 against the spread this past season, not counting pushes. It is the third-best mark for favorites in the last 14 seasons. And 141 games went over the total, with 124 staying under, the third-best mark for overs in the last 14 years, according to sports betting analytics site Betlabsports.com on Sports Insights. The betting majority almost always gravitates to the favorite and over, which makes it a bad combination for the books.
To boot, the New England Patriots, the consensus Super Bowl favorites throughout the season and a public favorite, went 16-3 ATS, tying the 1989 San Francisco 49ers for the best single-season ATS record in the last 40 years. In contrast, the Cleveland Browns, widely considered the biggest long shots in the league and the only team to be underdogs in every game, went a league-worst 3-12-1 ATS.
My model tends to choose underdogs due to the regularization of offense and defense strengths. Basically, I assume regression to the mean, and there was no such regression for the Patriots, Browns, Rams, or 49ers this year.
My record in games involving the Patriots: 5-12-1 (the third number is pushes or ties against the spread)
My record in games involving the Browns: 5-9-1
My record in games involving the Patriots: 4-9-2
My record in games involving the Patriots: 5-9-1
Overall in games involving those four teams: 19-36-4 (they played each other in 4 games after week 1).
“You want to gamble against the public, but at some point you’d like to see a team cover. It’s hard to be that bad and not cover, because the spreads get so inflated.”
“I would say 100 percent [the sharps] struggled,” Bogdanovich said.
“The average margin of victory in 2016 was the lowest in history, relative to total points per game.”