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Surprises, struggles and special ATS teams: How the NFL betting landscape changed at the start of the season

The NFL offers bettors another wild, unpredictable game this weekend. Week 6 at Kansas City is determined by defense. The Bills won 24-20, more than 10 points behind the closing aggregate, leaving anyone who bet a little light in their pockets. The biggest surprise, however, came from seeing Mitchell Trubisky and Zach Wilson treat Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as huge losers. The Steelers’ +350 odds bonus was the most lucrative of the weekend’s six upsets.

Each week provides bettors with the challenge of balancing weekly adjustments with resisting the urge to overreact. Here are some surprising takeaways from last weekend’s action.

Total surprise

As one would expect, Buffa Ronaldo is a lagging team, while Cleveland has been playing. The Jacoby Brissett-led Browns aren’t the first that come to mind when you think of higher-scoring games, but maybe they should be. The Browns are 5-1 thanks to a 31st-best defense per game allowed in the EPA. Against Baltimore this week, their BetMGM total of 46.5 is nearly 4 percentage points higher than their average closing total for the year (42.8). Cleveland’s only game below the total this season was 46 points.

The Bills are on the opposite end as they are now 5-1 down. Josh Allen’s high-intensity offense guaranteed an average closing total of 50.5, the second-highest in the NFL after Kansas City. Buffalo has never made it easy for over-bettors. Even their 41-7 win over Tennessee in Week 2 was just half a point, and the game closed at 48.5. The Bills will have a bye this coming week, but it might be worth keeping an eye on their totals when they return.

Florida fades in completely Fade out

If you’ve been betting on the Florida team, it’s been a bad month. Tampa Bay has become the league’s model team for underperforming expectations after a clean 38-3 loss to a team beaten by the Bills. The Buccaneers are just 3-3 overall, but more importantly, they’ve been brutal to their supporters. Tampa Bay’s ATS record is 0-4, including a 9.5-point and 10-point favorite over the past two weeks. Tampa will be another big favorite in Carolina this weekend, as the Bucs currently have a 10-point favorite at BetMGM.

Gamblers gave it and they took it away. Miami was on fire for the first three weeks, but a series of quarterback injuries saw Miami go 0-3 ATS in Weeks 4-6. QB Tua Tagovailoa is expected to return this week against Pittsburgh. See if the market believes Miami is the favorite for touchdowns.


Atlanta Falcons are a bet the story of the season. They took the money against San Francisco this weekend and again won 28-14 with a +155 deficit. The Falcons are a perfect 6-0 ATS in all six games. If you bet on the Falcons at -110 in the first six weeks of the open parlay, your odds will be as high as +4741. The Falcons are +6 in Cincinnati if you’re the type of gambler who keeps winning until they give up paying.

Week 7 Stakes: Chicago at New England -7.5

I’m going back to Wells with New England as it gets another favorable matchup at home. The Patriots have easily covered us in Cleveland and Detroit over the past two weeks, and I think they’ll keep going with their recent game against Chicago. The Patriots offense peaked with the presence of Bailey Zappe. The rookie completed 70 percent of his passes for 309 yards against the Browns.

In Zappe’s two starts, the Patriots were the NFL’s fifth-best offense in EPA/play and outscored their opponents 67-15. Considering they’re 27th in percentage of successes allowed, it’s unlikely that the Bears’ defense will detract from New England’s offense.

On the other side of the ball, Bill Belichick vs. Justin Fields. Belichick has a history of sending young quarterbacks to hell, and I bet he can force some key turnovers from Fields. The Patriots have shown they can pull the gap and win by big, so I’m going to score with New England here.

*Statistics provided by rbsdm,



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