10 best NFL teams against the spread in the past decade
Published 8:35 pm Monday, July 17, 2023
10 best NFL teams against the spread in the past decade
The NFL has a long and decorated history built on the foundation of the league’s parity. The competitive framework of America’s most popular professional sports league showcases a team’s ability to adapt, overcome, and exceed expectations—evident through strong results “against the spread.” The sports betting term, the set number of points that a team is expected to win or lose by, can be used to determine a team’s ability to compete on a given week and the franchise’s capacity to maintain success.
ATS.io compiled a ranking of the 10 best NFL teams against the spread in the past decade using data from Pro-Football-Reference.com. Rankings were determined using against-the-spread win percentage. The fewest losses against the spread were used as the tiebreaker between teams.
The 10 best NFL teams against the spread are some of the most successful entities in sports, while others are still yearning for validation. Four of the 12 NFL teams that have yet to win a Super Bowl have produced appreciable results against the spread. Others in the top 10 have legacies that will stand the test of time because of Super Bowl appearances and wins.
Jason Miller // Getty Images
#10. Arizona Cardinals
– Record against the spread since 2013: 83-73-6 (51.2% win)
– Average spread since 2013: 0.7 points
– Overall record since 2013: 80-80-2 (49.4% win)
The Cardinals have been one of the best teams against the spread in the past decade thanks to one of the best coaches in NFL history, Bruce Arians, who was with Arizona from 2013-17. Known as the “quarterback whisperer,” Arians guided signal-callers Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to at least 10 wins each season between 2013 and 2015.
The team also sustained success against the spread behind the play of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who was selected to the Pro Bowl four times between 2013 and 2017, including a 2016 campaign that saw the Pittsburgh product lead the league in receptions with 107. Despite recent successes, the Cardinals remain one of the 12 NFL teams yet to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champions.
Timothy T Ludwig // Getty Images
#9. Buffalo Bills
– Record against the spread since 2013: 83-70-8 (51.6% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -0.6 points
– Overall record since 2013: 92-69 (57.1% win)
The Bills are one of the most successful NFL franchises never to win a Super Bowl. Since 2013, the team has made five playoff appearances and demonstrated an ability to compete with the NFL’s 31 other franchises. The Bills have exceeded expectations since the start of the 2019 season under head coach Sean McDermott.
In 2020, the Bills tied the franchise’s record in total wins with 13 and would produce the same results two seasons later. Over the past few seasons, potent offenses led by quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs have helped the team overpower its opponents. The pair have combined for 4,189 yards and 29 touchdowns since 2020. The Bills have also been able to hold their opponents to unfavorable results behind a stout defense that has included Pro Bowlers Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer, and Matt Milano.
Dylan Buell // Getty Images
#8. Green Bay Packers
– Record against the spread since 2013: 85-72-5 (52.5% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -3.1 points
– Overall record since 2013: 100-60-2 (61.7% win)
One of the NFL’s most storied franchises has separated itself from opponents behind elite quarterback play, coaching, and one of the best home-field advantages in sports. Throughout his 18 seasons in Green Bay, quarterback Aaron Rodgers orchestrated several prolific offenses, including a 2014 season where the team led the NFL in points scored, totaling 486.
Lambeau Field—the team’s home stadium since 1957—has also bolstered the Packers’ success against the spread. With seating for more than 84,000, this venue transforms into a frigid tundra during the second half of an NFL season, making it challenging for unfamiliar opponents.
Green Bay has also benefited from solid coaching hires, including Mike McCarthy and Matt LaFleur. Since 2014, the two coaches have led the Packers to six seasons of 10 wins or more—including back-to-back 13-win campaigns in 2019 and 2020.
Ronald Martinez // Getty Images
#7. Dallas Cowboys
– Record against the spread since 2013: 87-73-2 (53.7% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -1.5 points
– Overall record since 2013: 94-68-0 (58% win)
The franchise, commonly known as “America’s Team,” is no stranger to success, even against the spread. The winners of five Super Bowls have had recent periods of on-field dominance despite not being crowned the NFL’s best team since the 1995 season.
Under head coaches Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy—the latter taking over in 2020—the Cowboys have finished first in the NFC East Division on four occasions in the past decade. The team’s worst season in the past 10 years came in 2015 when it closed the year with a 4-12 record after quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken left collarbone.
Dallas’ ability to close betting margins was spearheaded by a 2016 campaign that saw the team finish with a 13-3 record. Like the previous teams on this list, the Cowboys have also had quarterback play factor into their margins of victory and defeat with Pro Bowlers Romo and Dak Prescott—the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year—leading the team.
Rob Carr // Getty Images
#6. Kansas City Chiefs
– Record against the spread since 2013: 87-72-3 (53.7% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -4.2 points
– Overall record since 2013: 117-45-0 (72.2% win)
The reigning Super Bowl champions have reaped the benefits of having one of the best quarterbacks and coaches in NFL history. Since 2018, the combination of two-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and former AP NFL Coach of the Year Andy Reid has produced some of the most impressive offensive outputs of all time.
Since that season, the Chiefs have been ranked in the top five of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses on four different occasions—including #1 finishes in 2018 and 2022. During that span, the Chiefs won two Super Bowl titles. The team’s success has also been due to the elite play of tight end Travis Kelce—who has been selected to the Pro Bowl for eight consecutive seasons. The four-time First Team AP All-Pro has amassed 10,334 receiving yards and 69 TD receptions since 2014.
Mike Ehrmann // Getty Images
#5. New Orleans Saints
– Record against the spread since 2013: 88-73-1 (54.3% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -2.5 points
– Overall record since 2013: 97-65-0 (59.9% win)
Former NFL quarterback Drew Brees was a major catalyst for the Saints being one of the best NFL teams against the spread. The Purdue product came to New Orleans from the San Diego Chargers in 2006 and helped the Saints collect five 10-win seasons since 2013.
Brees retired after the 2020 campaign, and the team has been unable to maintain its success since his departure. Despite missing the playoffs the last two seasons, the Saints have remained competitive with defenses that have finished in the top 10 for points allowed. The Saints’ defenses have been led by linebacker Demario Davis and defensive end Cameron Jordan, who keep their team in close games no matter the opponent.
Justin K. Aller // Getty Images
#4. Pittsburgh Steelers
– Record against the spread since 2013: 88-71-3 (54.3% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -1.7 points
– Overall record since 2013: 88-71-3 (54.3% win)
Pittsburgh is another franchise that has found success against the spread due to coaching. The Black and Gold haven’t had a season under eight wins since Mike Tomlin took over head coaching duties in 2007. Since then, Tomlin has made sure the Steelers are among the most prepared teams in the NFL on a week-to-week basis.
This preparation has translated to strong results against the spread, coupled with the consistent quarterback play of Ben Roethlisberger, who retired following the 2021 season. Stalwart defensive performances from Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu, Lawrence Timmons, and Cameron Heyward have also helped keep the Steelers competitive throughout arduous NFL seasons.
Kevin C. Cox // Getty Images
#3. New England Patriots
– Record against the spread since 2013: 90-69-3 (55.5% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -5.0 points
– Overall record since 2013: 111-51-0 (68.5% win)
The Patriots have emerged as one of the winningest sports franchises in the last 50 years with six Super Bowl championships, including three titles since 2013. Head coach Bill Belichick has used his astute football IQ to outsmart opponents throughout his career, which has yielded impressive results against the spread.
The franchise also had the services of Tom Brady for 20 seasons. The three-time NFL MVP kept the Patriots in nearly every game. Brady threw an NFL-leading 36 touchdowns in 2015. Two years later, Brady would attempt 581 passes and throw for 4,577 yards—the highest marks in the league, even after more than 15 seasons as the Patriots’ starting quarterback.
Defense has also been a part of New England’s success against the spread with standout players like cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Devin McCourty, and Darrelle Revis. Linebackers Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, and Chandler Jones were key factors in the Patriots closing the gap against their opponents. New England has won at least 12 games per season on six different occasions since the 2013 campaign.
Stacy Revere // Getty Images
#2. Minnesota Vikings
– Record against the spread since 2013: 91-69-2 (56.1% win)
– Average spread since 2013: -0.6 points
– Overall record since 2013: 90-70-2 (55.5% win)
The Vikings—another franchise that has yet to reach the pinnacle of the NFL—are one of the best teams against the spread despite bouts of mediocre results over the last decade. The team finished with a 5-10-1 record in 2013 thanks to having the worst defense in the NFL that allowed a league-high 480 points that season.
Mike Zimmer became head coach in January 2014, which turned the tide for the franchise. The Vikings finished with a 7-9 record in 2014 before an 11-5 campaign a year later. An 8-8 record in 2016 brought the Vikings back to reality. However, the team rebounded with an NFC Championship appearance against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 but suffered a 31-point loss.
The Vikings finished the 2017 campaign with a 13-3 record and the best defense in the NFL with 252 points against. That season would be the closest the Vikings have come to a Super Bowl berth in the past 10 years.
Jamie Squire // Getty Images
#1. Cincinnati Bengals
– Record against the spread since 2013: 92-64-5 (57.1% win)
– Average spread since 2013: 0.4 points
– Overall record since 2013: 80-78-3 (49.7% win)
The Bengals have been knocking on the door of a Super Bowl title for decades but have yet to accomplish an NFL team’s ultimate goal. Cincinnati has been the best franchise against the spread in the past decade under the direction of former head coach Marvin Lewis and the team’s current leader Zac Taylor.
Between 2013 and 2018, Lewis coached the Bengals to three seasons of 10 wins or more, including a 2015 campaign that saw the team finish with a 12-4 record while allowing only 279 total points—ranking #2 in the NFL. Taylor took over duties as head coach in February 2019. The Bengals got off to a slow start with him, finishing the 2019 season with a 2-14 record followed by a 4-11-1 finish in 2020.
The emergence of quarterback Joe Burrow helped lift the Bengals to a 10-7 season in 2021 and an appearance in Super Bowl LVI. The Bengals fell to the Los Angeles Rams but built on the success in 2022, closing the regular season with a 12-4 record before a 23-20 loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
Story editing by Jeff Smith. Copy editing by Robert Wickwire. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.
This story originally appeared on ATS.io and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.