There are a lot of reasons that good NFL teams run the ball effectively. Teams that win tend to have the lead and need to run the clock out. Running teams can control time of possession and keep their defense off the field. Run-first teams are more reliable in adverse weather conditions. With New England being the one big exception – the Patriots are among the most pass heavy teams in the league – the best running teams are winning and the worst are losing.
The five best ground games in the NFL by a large margin are the Seahawks, Bills, Bucs, Vikings and Panthers. The teams have combined to go 32-17 prior to Buffalo’s Monday night showdown in New England. The worst five rushing attacks are cumulatively 21-28 and that includes the Patriots 9-0 mark.
Overall records don’t mean a whole lot when you are betting using the point spread. However, good running teams are covering at an absurd level while teams that fail to move the ball on the ground are getting pummeled. The best five rushing squads in the NFL are 30-18-1 against the number while the worst five are 19-27-3.
Last year Seattle was the best rushing team in the league by more than 25 yards a game. The Seahawks went 12-4 and represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. Seattle was 10-6 against the spread during the regular season. The next two best rushing attacks in 2014 were the Cowboys and Jets. Dallas went 12-4 overall and 10-6 ATS while New York was 4-12, but a much more reasonable 6-9-1 for betting purposes.
Two years ago the top four ground games in the NFL, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Seattle and San Francisco, combined for a 41-23 overall record with a 37-26-1 mark against the number. That means in three straight seasons wagering on the best rushing squads has been a very profitable venture.
It is easy to get excited about high-flying offenses: in New England Bill Belichick has found a way to make it work. However, run-first coaches like to grind it out and the results have been favorable. There’s nothing unsatisfactory about grinding out consistent profits. Keep a very close eye on top running teams as teams hit the stretch run.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Leticia Samuels, North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs/Released North Carolina National Guard derivative: Diddykong1130 (131118-Z-ZK506-063) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)