NFL Betting: How Do Week 1’s Big ATS Losers Respond in Week 2?

Week 2 Bouncebacks

The Cleveland Browns last won a game in the season opener 10 days before the television show Lost debuted. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Week 2 is the prime week for an overreaction to Week 1 events. You wait in anticipation all offseason. Then, a team goes out and looks bad, when you expected them to be good. Or maybe there weren’t any great expectations, but they managed to disappoint even without them by looking awful.

So to see how teams have responded, we used our custom betting trends tool to look at all teams from 2010 to 2019 who underperformed the spread expectation by 14 or more points in Week 1. Then, we looked at how those same Week 1 disappointments did a week later.

Those teams went 23-22 SU (51.1%) and 23-20-2 ATS (53.4%) in Week 2.

Yes, more often than not, they won and covered the spread. There’s certainly no evidence you should be systematically penalizing teams in Week 2 because they underperformed expectations in Week 1.

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Breaking Down the Week 1 Under-Performers by Week 2 Spread

Here’s a quick summary (small sample size warning, because we are dealing with about four per year to begin with), of how the under-performers did in Week 2, based on whether they were favorites or underdogs.

Category SU WSU L ATS WATS LATS T
Favored by 5.5 or more91532
Favored by 5 or less75660
Underdog of 5 or less35440
Underdog of 5.5 or more411870

The 2020 Under-Performers ATS and Public Pick Popularity

The evidence is that teams that underperform the spread in Week 1 do not systematically underperform again in Week 2. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily run out and play on every team that looks bad in Week 1. But you shouldn’t write off or play against them.

It also looks like the public does tend to overreact to the Week 1 performance versus the spread. Here are the four teams that would qualify as underperforming the spread by 14 or more points in 2020 Week 1, with their pick popularity in Yahoo spread pools listed in parentheses:

  • Cleveland (40% at -6)
  • Philadelphia (33% at +1)
  • Atlanta (39% at +4.5)
  • Indianapolis (26% at -3)

Those teams are averaging a 37% pick popularity against the spread for Week 2. That’s true despite two of them being favored, and the public having a general bias toward picking favorites against the spread. (Twelve of the 14 other favorites in Week 2 are drawing greater than 50% pick popularity.)

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