Losing a game to start the season can feel like a punch in the stomach for a team and its backers. But it’s how you respond to those losses that is what matters, and it is worth asking how those teams have done against the spread when rebounding from a loss. This look will let you know if backing an NFL team after a loss is worth considering as a NFL betting strategy this season.
Overall, a look at the 2017 season shows that the majority of the teams in the NFL played well against the spread in the game following a loss. After dropping a game in the 2017 season, teams went a combined 122-114-9 against the spread. That is only good for a percentage of 51.7%, using the numbers available at TeamRankings. But a closer look at those records show a more positive picture.
It has to be remembered that 15 of the games that featured teams coming off of a loss featured the Cleveland Browns in 2017. The Browns went winless straight up in 2017, and weren’t much better against the spread. Since every game that they played was a game that was played after a loss, with the exception of the first week of the season, all of their games counted in that tally.
Cleveland went 3-12 against the spread following a loss. If you remove their record from the performance of NFL teams following a loss, you would have had a leaguewide record of 119-102 against the spread in games where teams were coming off of a loss. That would result in a win rate of 53.8%, which would be a profitable win percentage on a long-term basis.
Of course, Cleveland is not coming off of a loss for the first time in over a full season after the first week of the 2018 season. Granted, the Browns didn’t win their game either, as they tied the Steelers after a scoreless overtime period. And based on the Browns’ over/under win total heading into the season, Vegas seems to think that the Browns will be better coming off of losses this year.
After the first week of the 2018 season, teams that are coming off of a loss will include Super Bowl contenders like the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Those teams will be candidates to be favored again in the second week of the season, which could make it more difficult for them to cover coming off of a loss. However, seeing which teams are undervalued based on the reaction to their week one losses is one way to maximize your chances of covering.
All of this is to say that betting on teams that are coming off of losses isn’t something that should be done blindly. Eleven teams in total failed to cover the spread at better than a 50% clip when coming off of a loss during the 2017 season. But picking your spots and recognizing where there is value to do so based on public perception is a great move and can lead to some winning bets.