The expression that the NFL is a week-to-week league is cliche but it’s rooted in truth. This season, the Steelers have looked like Super Bowl champs (versus Washington in Week 1 and KC in Week 4) and cellar dwellers (at Philadelphia in Week 3 and Miami in Week 6). It is hard to find a lot of consistency and that makes handicapping difficult. However, there are several teams that bettors can count on (for bettor or worse). Like any disciplined investor, you should toss out the masses of inconsistency and concentrate on things you can predict.
The NFL’s Most Consistent Teams (through Week 11)
No team in the NFL is as stable as Philly. Sure, they started the year 3-0, and then lost four of five, but there is a rhyme and reason. The Eagles are 4-0 at home and 1-5 on the road, both straight up and against the spread. All four of their home games have stayed under, while four of six road games have gone over (with one push). The Eagle defense is elite in front of its fans, regardless of competition, and mediocre on the road. The season is far enough along that this trend feels likely to continue.
It is hard to get your mind around the Cardinals’ defense this year. At home, they have limited opponents to 12.7 PPG. In four road games, they have yielded 33, 21, 30, and 30 points, for a gaudy 28.5 per contest. Arizona’s six home games have gone under and their four road games have gone over. It should be noted the level of competition at home has been mediocre. I am inclined to bet the over on the road moving forward, and tread lightly during their two remaining games in the desert.
Nothing says inconsistency like a 5-4-1 record against the spread. Houston is 6-4 overall, but there is a trend worth following. The Texans are 5-0 straight up and 4-0-1 against the spread in Houston. They are 1-4 on the road (including 0-1 in Mexico) and 1-4 ATS in those contests. When they face better teams, Houston isn’t competitive in true road games (suffering blowout losses against New England, Minnesota, and Denver). At home, they win close games (so far beating Kansas City, Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Detroit). Some teams are just better in front of their fans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Houston, if you don’t dig deeper, the 5-5 Bucs (straight up and against the number) look unremarkable. Upon closer review, Tampa Bay is a group of road warriors. Both SU and ATS, they are 1-4 at home and 4-1 outside of Tampa. Their only home victory came against an awful Chicago team. Their lone road setback was in Week 2 in Arizona, at a point in the year when the Cardinals were considered Super Bowl candidates. Their road wins at Atlanta, Carolina, and Kansas City are strong.
They’ve played good teams primarily at home, but a tight loss to LA and an overtime setback against Oakland are games the Bucs would like back. Normally, the spread factors in three points for home-field advantage. Betting Tampa Bay on the road and fading them at home really takes advantage of those extra points.
Image: public domain.