20-point spreads: Welcome to the new betting world norm

Analysis courtesy of The Action Network’s Evan Abrams. Yahoo Sports is partnering with The Action Network during the football season to bring you expert sports betting information and analysis.

Week 3 of the NFL season brings the betting world a new normal: The Cowboys are 21-point favorites at home vs. Miami, and the Patriots are 22.5-point favorites vs. the Jets. (Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match — deposit $50, bet with $150.)

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According to our data, this is the first week since at least 1993 where two teams are favored by 17 points or more. (ESPN Stats & Info cited Week 5 of the 1987 season, a strike-shortened year, as the last time we had two 20-plus-point favorites in the same week.)

A <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/miami/" data-ylk="slk:Miami Dolphins">Miami Dolphins</a> fan as they play the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 15 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Getty Images)
A Miami Dolphins fan as they play the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 15 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Getty Images)

Since 1993, only seven NFL games have closed with a point spread of 20 points or higher and those teams are 7-0 straight up, but just 1-6 against the spread.

(The Action Network)
(The Action Network)

Since the Patriots’ 18-1 run back in 2007, favorites of 20 or more points are 0-5 against the spread, failing to cover the spread by 11.4 points per game.

If the Pats close as 20-point favorites or higher against the Jets this week, it will be their fifth such game in this span. The rest of the NFL has had only four such games.

It is also worth noting that the Patriots have been the exception to the rule when it comes to large point spreads ( … but not too large).

Sunday will be the 20th time since 2007 that New England will be above a two-touchdown favorite and the results have been predictable for the Pats.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, who could also be laying 20+ points this week, have a bit of a different history.

Dallas head coach Jason Garrett is 7-13-1 against the spread as a favorite of a touchdown or higher, the second-least profitable coach in the Bet Labs database in that spot (since 2003).

When you look back at history, too, Dallas is the NFL’s scarlet letter.

In the last 25 years, the biggest point-spread upset came at the hands of the … Dallas Cowboys. In 1995, Dallas, as a 17.5-point favorite, lost outright to the Redskins at home.

The Cowboys’ will be facing the 0-2 Miami Dolphins, who have lost by a combined 92 points through two games this season.

Including their Week 3 game in Dallas, the Dolphins have been on average a 15.5-point underdog through three weeks, five points higher than any other team since 2003.

Largest Average Spread Through Week 3 (Since 2003):

  1. 2019 Miami Dolphins: +15.5

  2. 2018 Buffalo Bills: +10.5

  3. 2009 Detroit Lions: +10.2

  4. 2007 Buffalo Bills: +9.8

  5. 2010 Buffalo Bills: +9.8

In case you were wondering, the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns, both teams that eventually went 0-16 during the regular season, were nowhere near the Dolphins mark.

● 2017 Cleveland Browns: +2.8

● 2008 Detroit Lions: +1.5

With two of the biggest underdogs in the last 25 years on tap for this weekend, some bettors may want to go for the gold.

If you decided to bet $100 on a Dolphins (+1300) and Jets (+1300) parlay, that would net you a cool $19,500.

Of course, if you wanted a safer bet, a parlay of the Cowboys (-3000) and the Patriots (-3200) would net you an airport water bottle at $6.56 (have a fun flight!).

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