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2021 NFL Season Betting Review: The Teams and Players That Rewarded and Burned Bettors

Analyzing the teams and players that rewarded and burned bettors during the 2021 season.

The NFL regular season has come to a close and it’s time for another obligatory “look-back” article. But this time, let’s have a little more fun. Forget which teams made it to postseason or which players were most valuable to your fantasy football team.

Let’s see who was the best (and worst) for our bankrolls!

Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s time to review who was good to us and who burned us in the 2021 regular season.

Check the Wild-Card Weekend Lines at SI Sportsbook

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Philadelphia.

All Hail America’s team!

The Cowboys were the best team against the spread (ATS) this season. That’s right. Mike McCarthy’s team went a phenomenal 13-4 ATS (76.5%).

If you exclusively bet the Cowboys and nothing else, you can quit your day job!

Next in line were the Packers with a 12-5 ATS record, and coming in third: the Lions!

Detroit went 11-6 ATS, returning profits for backers 64.7% of the time.

Finally, some good news for Lions fans.

Bad Cats

The Panthers and Jaguars tied for the worst record ATS this season with an abysmal 5-12 mark. If you bet on the Jags and the Panthers in every game this season, you probably went broke with a 29.4% win percentage. If you bet against them every week, you definitely had extra lunch money at the end of the season.

However, of these two teams, the Jags win the “most dramatic cover” award.

Jacksonville covered twice at home as a 14-point-or-more underdog: once vs. the AFC East champion Bills, and then again in Week 18, unceremoniously ousting the Colts from the playoff race - all while still somehow maintaining the No. 1 draft pick 

Well played, Jags.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) tries to break a tackle by Chicago Bears safety Tashaun Gipson, left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Minneapolis.

OK ... But What About Game Totals?

The Vikings went over their projected game totals in 11 of 17 games, while the Jets, Chargers, Chiefs and Eagles all went over in 10.

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If you had bet the overs on all of these five teams' games, you would have ended the season with a 60% win percentage. That’s a pretty good purse!

Under Pressure

The under was much more profitable than the over this year. The Broncos and Jaguars led the field by going under their game totals in 12 of 17 games. If you exclusively bet the unders for both the Broncos and Jags this season, you posted a 70.6% winning percentage. Twenty-four teams (75%) hit the under in at least nine of their games (52.9%). Maybe we all just bet the unders next year?

What About Home/Road Splits?

The Bears were a perfect 3-0 ATS as a home favorite, while the Cowboys were a perfect 5-0 as a road favorite.

The Ravens, Titans and Steelers each went 3-for-3 ATS as home underdogs. 

The Cardinals take home top honors as road underdogs, covering in all six instances.

OK ... How about Conference Play?

Dallas was also the best in the league ATS in conference play with an 11-1 record, while the Panthers, Bears and Falcons all were bottom of the barrel with 3-9 marks. 

Therefore, the optimal way to bet on the Bears was either betting them as home favorites or versus the AFC.

Going Outside The Conference

The Cardinals, Seahawks and Broncos shared top honors ATS in non-conference play, each going 4-1. Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, meanwhile, went an abysmal 0-5.

But, hey! The Steelers are still going to the postseason…

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, center, catches a pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward (1) and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (4) defend.

Player Prop Prowess

Finally, I know I said we wouldn’t talk about the players that won our fantasy leagues, but I would be remiss not to mention Cooper Kupp.

Kupp exceeded his receiving yards prop in 14 of 17 games. There’s a reason why he’s -110 to win Offensive Player of the Year.

And speaking of -110 for OPOY—Here’s another fun stat:

In every Colts' victory, Jonathan Taylor rushed for 100-plus yards. If you were betting on the Colts to win, it also made sense to bet on  Taylor and vice versa. And, yeah, Taylor only had 77 yards versus Jacksonville on Sunday, so that one burned.

If you grew your bankroll this season, chances are you had regular stakes in the Cowboys, Packers, Vikings and Lions, while betting against the Jaguars and the Panthers. Just like we all drew it up, right? 

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