The goal of a Vegas sportsbook is the same goal as a casino's and that is making sure the house always wins. How do they ensure this? By making sure equal money is placed on each side of a game, that way they take home the 10 percent (known as the juice) from the losing side. Simple and effective, but here’s the thing – that doesn’t mean the lines reflect the true handicap of the teams. Understanding which teams draw bandwagon fans and which others receive extra love because of past performances is where you can gain an advantage.
It’s always a great bet to take an underdog, especially when you believe that team can win the game outright. Give yourself some extra points and you now have an advantage. Keep in mind a career gambler only does slightly better than 50 percent, so don’t get down if you don’t get every game right based on an underdog hunch.
Researching a team’s performance against the spread for the current season tells the story of the lines being set and how money was placed. It also highlights which teams continue to lose (or win) against the spread set in Vegas. This is where you will find the bandwagon money being spent (See: New England Patriots) as well as a lot of teams that you should consider betting against. Most games the Patriots are heavy favorites and if you look at the results you will see they cover less than half the time. No one thinks you can make money betting against the most successful NFL franchise of the past 15 years, but you can and would have.
Don’t get me wrong, there are teams that are good bets this year like the Indianapolis Colts, I guess that happens when you are underrated each week and have a quarterback named Luck with a horseshoe on his helmet. Super Bowl teams are also to be avoided, this season both Denver and Seattle are boasting win rates at or less than 50 percent which tells you they are not as good as the points they have been getting (at least not half the time). Let’s leave the “luck” to the Colts, avoid Super Bowl teams and focus on the other side. Here are the best teams to bet against.
10 Pittsburgh Steelers 4-4
Pittsburgh Steelers Nation fans spread across the country so naturally people like to put down a 20 or hundred on their team. These are the same annoying fans that bring their “terrible towels” to sports pubs in whatever city they live in. This year this team is inconsistent and not as good as many think. After being really bad through the first six weeks they have bounced back, but that will only make Pittsburgh fans put down more cash, moving lines in favor of their opponents. This is not to take away from those tasty sandwiches in Pittsburgh (the ones with potato chips or whatnot inside the sandwich), those are yummy. Just be sure to bet against the Steelers, this team is not as good as they once were.
9 Washington Redskins 3-5
So many problems with the Washington Redskins, remember when the team nickname was their biggest problem? Expect this team to pull off a couple of NFC East upsets, because they always happen. Keep in mind their overall body of work when betting. The results have not and will not be pretty. Despite the Redskins rolling out their third quarterback, the point spreads haven’t adjusted as necessary (or at least as much as one would expect). Betting against back-up quarterbacks is successful more often than not.
8 Jacksonville Jaguars 2-6
This team is worse than we thought. No one expected the Jaguars to win many games, but the point spreads keep increasing and they are still unable to cover. It’s not out of the question that we'll see Jaguars +14 lines in the second half of this season. Also, how did Jacksonville even get a football team? All the talk of having a team in Los Angeles and here are the year-in and year-out awful Jaguars in Jacksonville. It's safe to bet against this team and city while you’re at it. Did you know there was a Super Bowl in Jacksonville not so long ago? You probably did, but have tried to block it out.
7 St. Louis Rams 2-5
If you watched the Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks or put up a good fight against San Francisco you may think this is a better team than their record would indicate. You would be wrong and lose betting on the Rams each week. The Rams are a team searching for answers on both sides of the ball. They lost their quarterback and no longer have a steady running back. This team could easily decide to tank for the number one pick, if they haven’t already (probably a good idea to start tanking). Not a good place to be and years away from competing for a playoff spot, but a good place if you are a gambler looking for teams that don’t give two sh*ts. That would appear to be the St. Louis Rams the second half of 2014 NFL season.
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-5
I don’t know how they covered 2 games. Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another team that not only struggles as a whole, but they struggle to cover the spread each week. This team was supposed to be a surprise team in 2014, but have disappointed from the start. Their special teams stink and they love to turn the ball over, often resulting in quick points for their opponents. If you had to bet against one team for the next three years, Tampa Bay would be a good bet. (Note: If you have bet against Tampa Bay the past three years, well then, congratulations!)
5 Tennessee Titans 2-5-1
Tennessee is an enigma, a really tough team to figure out. They just lose games. First three quarters the Titans are leading or hanging in there and then a late touchdown does them in, in both the loss column as well as against the point spread. This team loves to lose by six points. If there is anyone who “likes” the Titans this year they have probably starting cutting themselves out of frustration. It must be really hard to be a Titans fan and even harder to be someone that bets with them.
4 Chicago Bears 3-5
At 3-5 you wouldn’t think they would be so high on this list, but that’s because they had much higher expectations coming into the season. Now, the jig is up and lines are reflective of the Bears' woes. Gamblers love guys like Jay Cutler, quarterbacks that don’t seem to care whatsoever. What happened to the balanced offense and defense? Not this year, in fact, the Chicago Bears are looking more and more like the Detroit Lions. (FYI: That is not good.) However, don’t be discouraged because it looks like this team can get worse. You can still find some value betting against Chicago.
3 Atlanta Falcons 3-5
Like the Bears, but a bigger disappointment. This team has the star power and a big win week 1 against New Orleans. The Falcons are in this strange place where they have a veteran team, but they can’t get over the hump. From a betting perspective, gamblers still seem to like them though and continue to bet with them. I hope those gamblers are hedging their bets because betting with the Falcons is a losing proposition in 2014. Bonus tip: Always bet against Atlanta on the road. Get the Falcons away from the Georgia dome and they struggle. When teams struggle consistently this is referred to as a trend. Gamblers that spot trends make money. Time to go make some money.
2 New Orleans Saints 3-4
It’s now been a few years since the Saints won the Super Bowl yet gamblers still bet as if they're a top 5 team. This may not be misleading as they have maintained a strong squad, but this season the Saints very much miss their defensive coordinator and Drew Brees has looked worn out. Sure, there will be throw-back games (like hanging 55 on the Packers), but mostly this is a team in the rearview mirror, barely holding on. They will continue to give up points, though, until people decide to lay off, so now is the time to bet against New Orleans before everyone else knows what you know.
1 New York Jets 1-6-1
This is just the worst team. The New York Jets are so bad I’m surprised Vegas allows them on the board as an NFL team. The good news for gamblers is that betting against the Jets can be a lucrative feat. So far this year, if you had bet 100K on each game you would be up half a million and thinking, man, I wish I had bet 1M each game against the Jets. Whether you bet one dollar or a million dollars, go bet against the Jets. Everyone is doing it and everyone is cashing in!