Early Season ATS Trends to Consider for Your NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Thursday, August 6, 2015 11:44 PM GMT

If you really want to sink your teeth into a betting trend, make sure you get in early. The longer you wait, the less chance you have of beating the football odds.

No doubt you remember this old chestnut: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. We tend to step lightly here at the home office when it comes to NFL betting trends; however, when it's early in the season and we don't have much data to work with, we don't mind getting a little trendy. In fact, the earlier, the better. Casual fans who haven't been following the events of the offseason are more likely to make mistakes in Week 1 than they are in Week 11.

We also like trends that have been given their proper amount of study. Which reminds us of one of the sexiest betting trends we ever saw. Let's revisit our old friend from Ohio University, Michael D. DiFilippo, and see how his “playoff vs. non-playoff” trend has been holding up against the NFL odds.

 

I'm Mike D, and I Get Respect
What, you didn't click that sexy link? Fine, here's the gist of what DiFilippo had to say: Between 2004 and 2011, when a team that made the playoffs the year before faced a non-playoff team in Week 1, the playoff team went 18-35-1 ATS. That translates to a 66.0-percent success rate just from fading those teams blindly.

It's been three years since DiFilippo presented his academic thesis. So how have those playoff teams done in the meantime? Glad you asked:

2012: 4-3 ATS
2013: 1-5-1 ATS
2014: 4-3 ATS

Plenty of variance there, as one might expect, but add it all up and you get... um, 9-11-1 ATS. That's only a 55-percent success rate if you're putting the non-playoff teams in your NFL picks, but still profitable. Remember, you need 52.4 percent to break even on the standard –110 vigorish; getting 55 percent on a regular basis would be delightful.

 

They Might Be Giants
With that in mind, let's see what Week 1 of the 2015 regular season has in store for us. This is how you would apply this NFL betting strategy to Sunday's games, by the way:

Green Bay at Chicago (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) NFL Pick: Bears +5 Over Packers

Indianapolis at Buffalo (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) NFL Pick: Bills -3 Over Colts

Carolina at Jacksonville (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) NFL Pick: Jaguars +2.5 Over Panthers

Seattle at St. Louis (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) NFL Pick: Rams +3 Over Seahawks

New Orleans at Arizona (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX) NFL Pick: Saints +3 Over Cardinals

Detroit at San Diego (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX) NFL Pick: Chargers -2 Over Lions

Cincinnati at Oakland (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) NFL Pick: Raiders +3 Over Bengals

N.Y. Giants at Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) NFL Pick: Giants +5 Over Cowboys

That's eight games we could put directly into our football picks – or we could be a little more choosy and see which of these games best fits our usual market-based contrarian strategy. Of the two playoff teams on this list, the Detroit Lions (after losing DT Ndamukong Suh) and Dallas Cowboys (after losing RB DeMarco Murray) had the toughest offseasons, and therefore should be more vulnerable to outsized market expectations. And between the New York Giants and the San Diego Chargers, we think Big Blue has the better chance of improving on last year's performance. Now you have our first 5000-Star Deadbolt Lock of the Year.