2021 NFL Week 3: A Pack of Dogs Worth Considering
Taking points during historically ripe period: Backing Colts, Jaguars, Saints, Dolphins & Rams covers Sunday
In the past, the early NFL regular season has proven fertile ground for bettors willing to take points. The following chart illustrates the hypothetical return associated with backing all underdogs since 2005 to cover the spread, sorted by week (the left-most column represents the hypothetical historical return on investment to backing underdogs in week 1, while the far right column represents dogs' week 17 profitability).
With a couple of modest exceptions, underdogs have proven long-term profitable through week six. Consistent with this observation, the un-favored are 21-12 versus the number so far this season.
Moreover, as also evident from the chart, of the standard 17 week NFL season, few weeks have proven more opportune than week 3 for backing dogs to beat the spread.
Our working hypothesis is that the betting public's recency bias translates to an aversion to backing bad teams (i.e. underdogs), despite the normalizing effect of the betting spread. Herding around favorites, we expect, pressures lines beyond rational levels, creating opportunity for point-takers.
We theorize that as the season progresses though, starters shake off rust related to inactivity and better teams' performance improves. Accordingly, the value of siding with underdogs erodes layers in the year.
Against this backdrop, we detail plays on five chalk takers for consideration Sunday.
Each of the pooches indicated above is supported by a strong contextual basis (in addition to the general tendency for dogs to beat the number early in the football year).
For instance, dogs unachieving their Pythagorean Expectation have delivered an 18% long-term return when taking points from the opposing conference...
This angle supports the Jaguars and Saints (and the Lions).
Teams taking points from their division have demonstrated similar profitability historically...
This system justifies a play on the Colts (as well as the Bengals, Eagles and Chargers).
Additionally, history suggests the Dolphins' home shut-out last week sets the stage for ATS success this Sunday.
Teams that missed the prior postseason have proven stellar bets playing outside their division after scoreless games, good for a 30% long-term return on investment...
Finally, the Bucs are hitting the road this week off a 23-point win over the Falcons in week 2. This has proven a tough spot for favorites to secure the ATS win.
Through the first five games of the NFL year, fading road teams off wins by three touchdowns or more has returned better than 20% since 2005...
Separately, our primary power rankings work endorses each pick. We make the Jaguars +7 a fair line, we would play the Colts down to +5, the Saints plus at least a field goal, the Fins +4 and the Rams down to essentially a PICK.