TLC’s 1994 hit “Waterfalls” is about chasing dreams without thinking about the consequences.

Casual bettors have a tendency to chase bets (waterfalls) too. After eight weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2 ATS), Buffalo Bills (5-1-1 ATS) and Philadelphia Eagles (6-2 ATS) have been the most profitable teams in the NFL. At the time of publication, more than 60% of spread bets are on each team to cover in Week 9. The public is loading up on the Chiefs, Bills and Eagles but is a team’s 1st half ATS record predictive of 2nd half ATS success?

To answer that question, using the Bet Labs database, I pulled the first half and second half against-the-spread records for every team since 2003. That is sample of 448 teams.

Then I used the correlation coefficient to determine if there was a relationship between 1st half and 2nd half ATS records. A correlation coefficient of 1 indicates perfect correlation, -1 means there is perfect negative correlation and 0 indicates no correlation.

The correlation coefficient between a team’s 1st half ATS record and its 2nd half ATS record is -0.04. What this tells us is that a team’s 1st half ATS record is not predictive of its 2nd half ATS record.

Yeah, but last year New England went 7-1 ATS in the first eight games of the season and finished 6-2 ATS down the stretch. Perhaps the very best teams, because of talent, coaching or a horseshoe up their butt, can cover the number in games 9-16 just as they did in the first eight? The Pats were the exception, not the rule..

The regression monster comes for everyone. The most profitable teams, squads that won 6 or more games against-the-spread, had a 1st half record of 282-73-5 (79.4%) ATS. In the second half those same teams went 179-172-9 (51.0%) ATS.

Bad teams also experienced regression. Since 2003, 65 teams won two or fewer games against-the-spread in the first half, combined they went 112-381-27 (22.7%) ATS. In the second half, the teams that hurt your bankroll the most went 269-235-16 (53.4%) ATS, better than the most profitable first half teams.

1st half ATS Wins1st Half ATS Win%2nd Half ATS Win%
6 or more wins79.4%51.0%
2 or fewer wins22.7%53.4%

An eight-game sample holds no meaningful predictive value, first half against-the-spread records cannot predict second half against-the-spread results. KC, Buffalo, and Philly are the best teams against-the-spread in the first half but there is no guarantee the Chiefs, Bills and Eagles will be profitable down the stretch. Don’t go chasing waterfalls like the public.

Who to keep an eye on

In Week 9, the New Orleans Saints (5-2 ATS) host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5-1 ATS). Nearly 70% of spread bets are on Drew Brees and the Saints. The public is fading Tampa after repeatedly letting them down at the ticket window. Contrarian bettors can profit by simply taking bad ATS teams against good ATS teams.

Bad ATS teams (<30% win rate) vs. good ATS teams (>70% win rate): 153-121-9 (55.8%) ATS

In division games: 57-38-5 (60.0%) ATS


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