As we approach the halfway point of the 2011 NFL regular, the odds makers now have a wealth of information on all 32 teams in the league, allowing them to keep the lines for each week’s matchups razor-thin. In an effort to gain an edge for the second-half stretch run, it is a good time to take a look at which teams have been consistent money makers over the first eight weeks and which ones have been a constant drain on the bankroll.
The teams that either outperform or underperform according to preseason expectations usually make up the bulk of each of these categories and so far this season the trends have held true to form. The biggest money maker so far has been the San Francisco 49ers. After last season’s 6-10 straight-up record, they brought in Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh as head coach and the turnaround has been dramatic to say the least. The 49ers have the second best record in the NFL at 6-1, but what puts them at the top of our list is a 6-0-1 record against the spread. They are 3-0-1 as underdogs and a perfect 3-0 as favorites.
The next team on the list has very quietly opened the season at 5-2 SU and is just one win away from exceeding its projected win total of 5.5. The Cincinnati Bengals find themselves in the thick of the AFC North division race with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton at the helm. The real difference has been a defense that is ranked fourth in the league in both total yards and points allowed. The Bengals have also paid huge dividends to anyone who has been on their bandwagon with a 6-1 record ATS. They have covered all three games as underdogs and are 3-1 as favorites. They have also been a strong play on the total line with six of their first seven games going ‘over’ the total.
A couple of other overachievers that belong on the list are Detroit and Buffalo. The Lions are 6-2 SU and 5-2-1 ATS while the Bills are 5-2 SU and 4-2-1 ATS. Buffalo has also been a boon on the total line with six of its first seven games going ‘over’ the total.
The three biggest underachievers on the list would be St. Louis, Miami, and Indianapolis. The Rams finally got off the schneid this past Sunday with a shocking 31-21 victory over New Orleans as 13.5-point home underdogs. They are now 1-6 both SU and ATS. Injuries have played a huge part in their dismal start, but that does not account for everything that is currently wrong with this team. Maybe Sunday’s win will be the spark for a second-half turnaround.
Miami’s 0-7 SU start has you wondering if the complete collapse of this franchise is just one master plan to finally get its first real franchise quarterback since Dan Marino by landing the first overall pick in the draft to select Stanford’s Andrew Luck. The Dolphins did cover the spread last week against Giants in a 20-17 loss as 9.5-point road underdogs to go 1-6 ATS, so you cannot accuse them of completely tanking every game.
Everyone expected the Colts to underperform this season with their field general, Peyton Manning sidelined with a neck injury, but that does not mean you completely quit as a team. Indianapolis’s embarrassing 0-8 start is just hard to fathom given the absence of one player even if it is Manning. The only reason they are not at the top of this dubious list is a 2-6 record ATS.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.