2021 NFL Preseason: A Point Spread Review

by Al McMordie

The 2021 NFL Preseason is in the rear view mirror.  And it was the first season of a new 3-game format adopted by the league.  This new format significantly changed how many teams approached the preseason games.  And, as a result, many handicappers had to adjust, as the old "Week 3 Dress Rehearsal Game" went out the window.  Instead, many teams just shelved their key starters for much, if not all of the preseason.

Let's take a look at the final data.

Home teams:  13-32-2 ATS
Road teams:  32-13-2 ATS
Favorites:  24-22-2 ATS
Underdogs:  22-24-2 ATS
Overs:  27-20-1 
Unders:  20-27-1

Teams off a win vs. an opponent not off a win:  14-9-1 ATS, including 12-3 ATS on the road
Teams off a loss vs. an opponent not off a loss:  9-14-1 ATS, including 3-11 ATS at home
Teams off back-to-back losses vs. an opponent not off back-to-back losses:  7-4 ATS, including 4-1 ATS on the road
Teams off back-to-back wins vs. an opponent not off back-to-back wins:  4-8-1 ATS, including 1-5-1 ATS at home
Teams that covered their previous game by 10+ points:  8-4-1 ATS, including 7-2 ATS on the road
Teams that failed to cover their previous game by 10+ points:  5-7-1 ATS, including 2-5 ATS at home
Teams that won their previous game by 10+ points:  7-4-1 ATS, including 6-2 ATS on the road
Teams that lost their previoius game by 10+ points:  5-6-1 ATS, including 2-4 ATS at home

Clearly, the one thing which jumps out is the extremely poor play of the home teams.  In seasons past, the NFL coaches perhaps tried to be more competitive in front of their home faithful.  This Preseason, many of the coaches simply couldn't be bothered to reward their fans in attendance.

But even though things changed, one thing remained the same:  the Preseason dominance of the Baltimore Ravens.  John Harbaugh's men stretched their Preseason win streak to 20 games.  And they covered all three contests.  They're now 17-2-1 ATS in the Preseason since 2016.  And, perhaps most impressively, their only two ATS losses were by 1 points each!  It did, however, come with a cost this year, as #1 RB, JK Dobbins, sustained a season-ending injury in a meaningless Week 3 game.  So, it will be quite interesting to see whether Harbaugh changes his approach to these exhibition games in 2022.

Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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