The Dallas Cowboys looked impressive in their win over the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. But history will be against them when they host the New York Giants as 5.5-point faves on the NFL odds board.
Jason’s Record After Week 5: 19-16 ATS, 5-7-1 Totals
Profit: plus-0.1 units
Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The Dallas Cowboys were lighting up our NFL betting radar going into the 2014 campaign, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS to start the season. They even managed to beat the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, winning 30-23 as 10-point road dogs. Ten points! The Seahawks are great and everything, but c’mon.
As solid as that victory was, it’s a bad omen for the ‘Boys as they prepare to face the New York Giants in Arlington. According to Walter Cherepinsky, underdogs who beat the defending Super Bowl champions went 20-29 ATS in their next game between 2000 and early 2009. Filling in the results since then, we come up with a record of 5-12 ATS, for a grand total of… carry the one… 25-41 ATS. That’s bad news for Big D supporters.
The Past Is a Foreign Country
The logic behind this trend is pretty obvious: Defending Super Bowl champions are just not all that. The only back-to-back champions of the new millennium are the 2003-04 New England Patriots. Underdogs have won five of the last seven Super Bowls outright, and are 10-3 ATS the past 13 seasons. There’s your salary cap in action, folks.
Then again, the Seahawks might be a special case. They opened as favorites for their Super Bowl XLVIII matchup against the Denver Broncos before moving to +2.5 at the close. They were also the top team on the DVOA charts in both 2012 and 2013. And despite the loss to the Cowboys, Seattle is in a good position to defend its title, with so many young players on cap-friendly contracts. Beating these guys in 2014 should mean more than beating, say, last year’s Baltimore Ravens (8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS).
Which speaks well for the San Diego Chargers. They hosted the Seahawks in Week 2 as 4.5-point underdogs and came away with a solid 30-21 victory. One week later, San Diego flew cross-country and beat the Buffalo Bills 22-10 as a 2.5-point puppy, overcoming the old “West Coast teams playing early East Coast games” trend in the process. The Chargers are on top of the AFC West now at 5-1 SU and ATS. Well done, gentlemen.
Dallas has to share first place in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles, but that hasn’t stopped people from talking up the Cowboys as possibly the best team in the league. Even LeBron James has gotten in on the act, dissing Dallas haters on his Instagram account. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be a Cleveland Browns fan? Be that as it may, the pendulum of public support is swinging back toward America’s Team.
All that beautiful betting value is going to disappear if this keeps up. Dallas is not the best team in the NFL, at least not on paper. Football Outsiders had the Cowboys ranked No. 12 in overall efficiency (No. 8 offense, No. 24 defense, No. 10 special teams) going into Week 6. That was four spots behind their opponents on Sunday, the Giants (No. 14 offense, No. 7 defense, No. 23 special teams).
Of course, the Giants (3-3 SU and ATS) went out this past Sunday night and laid an egg against the Eagles, losing 27-0 as 1-point road dogs. No doubt we’ll see Dallas and New York switch places on the Week 7 DVOA charts. But if the Cowboys land at No. 1, everyone here at the ranch will eat a bug (Note: as always, all bugs consumed must be made entirely of Belgian chocolate). Maybe this week’s feature NFL betting trend will carry some weight after all.