If you do a web search for the phrase “straight up,” you’ll get Paula Abdul’s first single, or Badfinger’s third album. We don’t want either of those. In NFL betting terminology, straight up (SU) refers to a game situation without a point spread attached. Should the New York Giants beat the Carolina Panthers 20-18, the Giants would win the game SU, even if they’re three-point favorites ATS.
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It’s very common when you bet on the NFL to see a team’s SU and ATS records listed together. For example, back in 2006, the Giants were 8-8 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, while the Panthers were 8-8 SU and 6-9-1 ATS. This gives you a clue that New York might have had a better season than Carolina, even though both teams were .500. Indeed, the Giants were only outscored by a total of seven points during the regular season, while the Panthers were outscored by 35 points.
SU stats are obviously more valuable in NFL betting when you’re dealing with the moneyline instead of the point spread. But it’s still very useful to keep a team’s SU record in mind when you’re looking at its ATS record. Consider the 2006 Buffalo Bills, who went 7-9 SU and 10-6 ATS. Casual observers didn’t think much of the losing Bills that year, but five of those SU losses were by a field goal or less. That’s how Buffalo was able to put together a highly profitable 7-0 ATS streak during the second half of the season. If you want some of that money, don’t ignore those SU stats.