Will 2021’s NFL ATS Betting Standouts Regress Soon?

  • The Dallas Cowboys have a 6-0 ATS record in 2021, but a 20-18 ATS record since 2019.
  • The Green Bay Packers have a 5-1 ATS record in 2021, and a 25-13 ATS record since 2019.
  • The Arizona Cardinals have started 5-1 against the spread, but are 12-10 against the spread since 2020.

DALLAS - The NFL is home to all sorts of low sample size occurrences and several of them seem to be happening within the NFL spread markets this year.

The Dallas Cowboys have a 6-0 ATS record on the season, while the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers have 5-1 ATS records.

Is it reasonable to expect this level of production to continue? Looking at historical data, the answer would be no.

Since 2017, only one team has had less than five spread losses over the course of the NFL season - the 2018 Chicago Bears, who finished with a 12-4 ATS record.

Going back a bit further, the 2016 New England Patriots finished with a 13-3 ATS record, and 2015 saw both the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals finish with three ATS losses.

In other words, spread loss totals under five are a rare occurrence, and the best teams against the spread in both 2019 and 2020 had five spread losses.

In this context, it seems highly likely that the three teams that are currently on pace to finish with less than five spread losses are going to regress to the mean at some point.

Dallas Cowboys: 6-0 ATS

Take the Cowboys as an example. They have a 6-0 ATS record in 2021 so far. Let’s assume they'll finish with an incredible 12-5 ATS record on the season, which would make them the best ATS team in the last three years.

This would mean that they have a record of 6-5 against the spread over the course of the rest of the season, a notable drop from their current incredible pace.

Since 2019, the Cowboys are 20-18 against the spread, which gives them a 52.6% winning percentage.

It's important to note, however, that Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is currently third on the NFL MVP odds boards, sitting with +550 odds.

Arizona Cardinals: 5-1 ATS

The Arizona Cardinals have a 5-1 ATS record this season, but looking back, they have a 12-10 ATS record since 2020.

In fact, they finished last season with a losing ATS record, and their 5-1 effort is what got them back over .500 against the spread since 2020.

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is currently the favorite to win the NFL MVP, with +350 odds to do so.

Green Bay Packers: 5-1 ATS

The Green Bay Packers are currently 5-1 against the spread and since 2020 have been the best ATS team in the NFL, at 15-7. Since 2019, they have acquired a 25-13 ATS record, second-best in the league.

A 25-13 record is a 65% win rate, 15-7 is a 68% win rate, and 5-1 is an 83% win rate. The larger the sample size gets for any team, the closer they get to a 50% win rate against the spread.

It should also be noted that Green Bay is one of the best teams against the spread historically, with a 56% winning percentage against the spread since 2010.

QB Aaron Rodgers may own Chicago, but it turns out he also owns spread betting.

It's The Quarterbacks, Stupid

If we expand the sample size to all regular-season games played since 2010, no team has an ATS winning percentage higher than 57.6%. That team is the New England Patriots, whose dynasty lasted for the entire decade.

Right under them is the Green Bay Packers, who are followed by the New Orleans Saints. What do all three of these teams have in common? All-time great QB play in the form of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees.

All three of these 5-1 ATS or better teams have either a top-three MVP candidate this year, or one of those all-time great quarterbacks.

Even if all-time greats are quarterbacking, online gambling fans should know that long-term spread trends tend to move closer and closer to 50% the larger the sample size gets.

However, the great ones can defy gravity over sample sizes as long as decades - which means it’s time to learn if Prescott and Murray are truly great in this regard for ATS, as all the greats historically are.