If you made the first-round quarterbacks disappear in week 4, you’ve had a rough week.
It made sense to bet against them. Four of the five quarterbacks in the first round were starting and all four struggled. They flipped too much and didn’t do much for their teams, who didn’t earn much.
Those rookie quarterbacks went 4-0 ATS last week. Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars comfortably covered a 7.5 point lead Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Justin Fields looked much better, leading the Chicago Bears to a 24-14 victory as 3-point favorites at BetMGM on the Detroit Lions. Zach Wilson led the New York Jets to a straight win in overtime over the Tennessee Titans, who were favored by 5.5. And then, on Sunday night, Mac Jones performed well for the New England Patriots, as they comfortably covered as a 6.5-point underdog in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Two other rookie quarterbacks played. Trey Lance arrived at halftime for injured Jimmy Garoppolo and couldn’t lead the San Francisco 49ers to a win or cover. Houston Texans third-round rookie Davis Mills struggled in a 40-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills. But no one has bet on or against the 49ers with the idea that Lance would play, and Mills is in a different category than the four regular first-round starters.
Patience is needed with any beginner, and it paid off in week 4. They all improved.
The question is whether the rookie newbies will continue their ascent after Week 4. Wilson has secured a favorable clash against a Titans team whose meager pass rush can’t take advantage of the Jets’ line. Fields faced a Lions team 0-4. Lawrence and the Jaguars might have enjoyed seeing the Bengals for a short week. Jones got the ball rolling against a Buccaneers defense that had virtually no healthy cornerbacks to play.
Still, it was a reminder that things are changing fast in the NFL. If you think you have a trend, it probably won’t last long. And it should no longer be automatic to bet against all rookie quarterbacks.
Always beware of the overly popular bet
The Buccaneers-Patriots game was the highest stakes game of Week 4. And it was hard to find someone who had a ticket to the Patriots.
About 90% of bets on BetMGM were on Bucs -7. And Tampa Bay never really threatened to cover. The Patriots played a close game and almost won it in the end, missing a long field goal in the dying seconds.
It’s not like there aren’t good reasons to support the Bucs. But how often do we see a team get all the bets and not win? The house rarely loses.
If you bet the underdog, take the money
The Underdogs did well again in Week 4, going 8-8 ATS after the favorites Los Angeles Chargers covered Monday night. Again, if the underdog was covering, the spread didn’t matter.
Six of the eight underdogs who covered won straight. This is generally how it works in the NFL. There is security in taking the points – and it helped in the aforementioned Patriots game – but generally it will be a better bet to take that underdog you like with the best chance of making the money.
No team ATS streak lasts this long
We’re only four games into the NFL season and only one team is either winless or undefeated ATS. Hello, Dallas Cowboys. They are 4-0 ATS according to the ranking of Covers.com.
It’s rare to see a team that is too better or worse than .500 ATS in a season. The Panthers and Broncos were 3-0 ATS, but both failed to cover in Week 4. The Jets, Jaguars, Washington football and Chiefs were the only teams without an ATS win and they all covered. If you have a team that you bet blindly or against every week, you might end up making a small profit. But whatever streak you go through, it won’t last very long. Unless you bet on the Cowboys 2021.