October 6, 2020 - by Jason Lisk
The Indianapolis Colts could be the new Midwest defensive monster (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire)
Week 4 gave us more shootouts, and more primetime games than expected thanks to the Kansas City-New England game moving to Monday night after Patriots QB Cam Newton tested positive for coronavirus.
In this post, we examine not only how teams performed against the point spread and over/under lines in Week 4, but also review some of the fluky, improbable outcomes that can make ATS records misleading.
This level of analysis often provides clues as to which teams may be setting up well to cover the spread in the future.
(To search for your own NFL betting trends, we invite you to use the beta version of our BetIQ Trend Finder Tool.)
The Dallas Cowboys have fumbled the ball seven times this season, losing six of them. Several of those fumbles have come early in games, and are a big part of why they have fallen behind and been chasing scores.
Dallas has scored on nearly half their drives (18) over the last three weeks and scored 109 total points, but went 1-2 and failed to cover the spread in every game. The culprit has been 13 total drives ending in a turnover — either a fumble (6), interception (3), turnover on downs (3), or safety.
Dallas is tied with the Raiders for most fumbles lost (6), though the Raiders have fumbled it nine times total. The only team with a higher rate of lost fumbles (minimum four total fumbles) is Buffalo, who has failed to recover any of their four fumbles.
At the other end of the spectrum, Chicago is 4-for-4 in recovering their own fumbles so far, while New Orleans (4-of-5), Philadelphia (6-of-8), Arizona (3-of-4), Seattle (3-of-4) and Denver (5-of-7) also have recovered a high rate of their own fumbles this season through four weeks.
In a year where offense has been king, the defense in Indianapolis appears to be standing tall. After four weeks, the Indianapolis Colts are the NFL leader in points allowed (56 total, 14 per game), and in a host of other defensive categories:
In fact, the Colts have allowed the fewest total yards allowed in the first four games of a season since the 2010 Baltimore Ravens (943), based on a Pro Football Reference search. While the Colts haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row of offenses, gaudy shorter-term numbers like these typically benefit from drawing some weaker offensive opponents.
For example, last year’s Patriots, who allowed just a few more yards than these Colts through four games, had played the woeful early 2019 Dolphins, a Jets team on a third-string quarterback, and Washington.
Indianapolis lost the season opener to Jacksonville despite dominating statistically in terms of yards and first downs, and since then they have held the Vikings, Jets, and Bears to 29 total points and only three touchdowns total in three weeks. While the overs have been hitting at a high rate above 55% this season, the last three Colts’ games have all gone Under the number, and they have covered the spread in all three games by an average of more than 11.5 points.
Darius Leonard, Indianapolis’ best linebacker, is questionable for this week’s matchup with Cleveland, so that is a situation to watch. But this week’s game should be a big test, facing the Browns’ rushing attack that just put up 307 rushing yards and 49 points against Dallas.
One of the things we will track this year is how home teams are performing, with many teams playing in front of no fans to start the year.
In Week 4, home teams went 4-9 straight up and an awful 3-10 ATS, marking the second straight week that the home teams performed poorly overall and against the spread. That means home teams now have an overall losing ATS record for 2020.
Weekly NFL Home Team Records, 2020 Season To Date
|Week||W||L||T||WIN PCT||ATS W||ATS L||ATS T||ATS PCT|
However, last year, home teams were 43.7% SU and covered 35.7% ATS in the first four weeks of the season, performing even worse than this year.
Over the previous five seasons (2015-2019), home teams have won 54.5% SU and 47.3% ATS in the first four weeks. So home teams having a sub-50% ATS record so far in 2020 doesn’t buck any recent historical trend.
Here’s how some of the more standard spilts look after Week 4:
|TYPE||ATS W||ATS L||ATS T||ATS %|
The assault on scoring records continues, as game totals and scores continued to rise in Week 4. Scoring for the year is now at 51.4 points per game.
Only three games this weekend had a total score of less than 45 points. Overs are now 36-26-1 on the season (57.9%). In the previous five years, overs hit at a 51.0% rate over the first four weeks.
Here’s a running tally of how overall NFL scoring so far in 2020 compares to the full season averages of recent seasons, based on average total points scored per game:
In this section each week, we list a summary of drives that ended with turnovers, but not only official turnovers like interceptions and fumbles.
We also tally up other high-leverage events that likely led to either loss of points or great field position for an opponent. Safeties and blocked punts are included in turnovers, and blocked field goals are included in missed field goal attempts.
Week 4 Team ATS Records Based On Turnovers, Missed Field Goals, and Failed 4th Down Attempts
|Team||Turnovers||FG Miss||Downs||TOTAL||ATS Result|
Teams with 3 or more turnovers, missed field goals or failed attempts went 3-4 ATS. though two of those three ATS wins were by underdogs who barely covered by a half-point, and lost outright.
The only other exception was Denver, who covered and won against the Jets despite three interceptions including a pick six. The Jets losing by more than one score when they had such a turnover advantage is likely just further confirmation that they are bad at football.
Teams that had zero drives end in those events went 2-0 ATS.
Here’s a summary of the full season so far showing the net number of drives ending in turnovers or miscues for each team. As you might expect, most of the teams at the top have positive spread records while the teams at the bottom have failed to cover.
2020 Season Summary, Drives Ending in Turnovers or Other Failed Plays
Finally, here are updated against the point spread and over/under records so far in 2020. You can check out more trends on our BetIQ NFL betting trends page.
2020 NFL ATS and O/U Records
|Team||Wins ATS||Losses ATS||Ties ATS||Streak||Over||Under||Push||O/U Streak|
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