What We’ve Learned: Bet the Big Underdogs

It was historic Sunday in the NFL in Week 6 as the Denver Broncos will go down as one of the biggest favorites in NFL history. The Broncos closed as a 27-point favorite on the NFL betting odds at Bodog and the entire handicapping world had their eyes on the game to see if they could cover the crazy NFL point spread against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As it turns out, the Broncos struggled in the contest and didn’t come anywhere near covering. As a matter of fact, at no point in the game were they ever winning on the spread or even within a touchdown of doing so.

Let’s take a look through history to see teams favored by 22.5 or more on the NFL lines have fared to see if we can derive some NFL betting tips. If you read the title of this article, you might have a good idea where this is headed:

November 25, 2007

Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots

Odds: Patriots -24.5

The Patriots had started the season 10-0 and had stomped the Buffalo Bills 56-10 in the previous week. However, they actually trailed the Eagles 28-24 heading into the fourth quarter and barely won 31-28.

December 5, 1993

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco 49ers

Odds: 49ers -24

The Bengals came into this contest with a record of 1-10 and were such a big underdog on the NFL betting odds because the 49ers had won five straight with four of those wins coming by 23 or more. As it turns out, the 49ers didn’t even score enough points to match the amount they were favored by, winning 21-8.

October 11, 1987

Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers

Odds: 49ers -23.5

The 49ers were a huge favorite in this contest because this was the year of the strike. There were replacement players all over but Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Dwight Clark had crossed the picket line to play for San Francisco. While the 49ers were heavy favorites on the NFL odds, they only won 25-17.

October 2, 1977

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys

Odds: Cowboys -23

The Cowboys, loaded with five future Hall of Famers and a Hall of Fame head coach (Tom Landry) got their shot at the hapless Bucs, who were coming off of their dubious 0-14 season in 1976. The final score was 23-7.

December 23, 2007

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots

Odds: Patriots -22.5

Again in their 16-0 season, the Patriots were a massive favorite. This time, they were laying 22.5 over the Dolphins, who were in the midst of a dismal year. The Patriots came close to covering but only won 28-7.

So What Have We Learned?

On paper, these games looked like the biggest mismatches of all time but as we saw last Sunday, covering massive numbers is a big challenge. Those who watched the game saw the Broncos look listless, sloppy and careless. And those who bet on the NFL would probably consider it the Broncos worst performance of the season.

History shows us that when teams are favored by 22.5 or more, take the dog. Although the media will undoubtedly overhype the game, the statistics show that these massive underdogs actually do a great job of covering.

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