The longest NFL underdog streaks over the last 20 years

Posted at 4:50 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 16:50:51-04

The Browns were road favorites at the Indianapolis Colts last weekend – a first for the franchise in almost three full seasons. The last time the Browns were favored on the road, Donald Trump was tweeting out his take on the Katy Perry-Russell Brand breakup.

Oddsmakers installed the Browns as 1-point favorites at Indy and ended a 22-game streak of being away underdogs. Cleveland, of course, ended up losing outright by three points to the Colts which will likely result in another long run disrespectful road spreads.

This week, bookmakers snapped the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 44-game streak of catching points away from home by listing the Jags as 3.5-point favorites this weekend at the New York Jets.
The Browns and Jags as away favorites in back to back weeks is like hearing Skip Bayless praise LeBron James in back to back segments. Blue moon stuff.

It got us wondering how bad pro football teams fare against the spread in their first game in at least as chalk – home or away. We looked back over the last 20 years and found all the teams with at least 17 consecutive games as the betting underdog.

Those clubs went 5-11 against the spread in their first game back with the unfamiliar tag of being the favorite in the eyes of the books. That includes, of course, the Browns last weekend who failed to cover at Indy.

Will the Jags have a similar fate this weekend against the Jets?

Here’s a look at the longest NFL underdog streaks over the last 20 years.

St. Louis Rams: November 25, 2007 to December 19, 2010

Consecutive games as underdogs: 43
ATS record during streak: 19-24

The Rams took a long time to recover from the fall of the “Greatest Show on Turf” era. Mike Martz turned out not to be an offensive genius and Marc Bulger was not the heir apparent to Kurt Warner.

St. Louis tried three different head coaches over the prolonged rebuild and lost 33 of 36 games at one point during the streak. The Rams covered in four of six games in 2010 before oddsmakers finally tagged them as favorites in Week 8 at home against the Carolina Panthers. St. Louis went on to win and cover as 2.5-point chalk.

Jacksonville Jaguars October 7, 2012 – December 18, 2014

Consecutive games as underdogs: 42
ATS record during streak: 14-26-1

Four different head coaches (Jack Del Rio, Mel Tucker, Mike Mularky and Gus Bradley) and three different starting quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Blake Bortles) were the key cogs in Jacksonville’s 42-game streak.

Oddsmakers made the Jags 1-point favorites back in October 2012 at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Jags would go on to lose outright by 17 points. The books waited three years, two months and 11 days before making Jacksonville the betting favorite again, this time against the Charlie Whitehurst-led Tennessee Titans. The Jags won and covered as 4-point chalk.

Cleveland Browns September 12, 1999 – November 25, 2001

Amount of consecutive games as underdogs: 41
ATS record during streak: 17-21-3

It was supposed to be a joyous occasion for the Dawg Pound. NFL football returned to Cleveland three years after former Browns owner Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore. The NFL awarded an expansion franchise to Cleveland, allowed them to call themselves the Browns again, and even awarded them the first pick in the 1999 draft.

Eight of the top 11 picks in that draft went on to be Pro Bowl players and two of those were quarterbacks. Tim Couch, whom the Browns took with the first pick, unfortunately was not one of those eight players.

Among the many embarrassments during the Browns’ first few years back in the league – a 43-0 loss as a 6.5-point home dogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a 48-0 loss as 15-point dogs at Jacksonville.

The new Browns had their first game as chalk on November 25, 2001 at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland won and covered as a 4-point fave.

Oakland Raiders: November 10, 2013 – October 4, 2015

Consecutive games as underdogs: 27
ATS record during streak: 13-14

Oakland fans can thank Derek Carr for the near .500 ATS mark over these years with a player roster lacking star talent. In 2013, Terrelle Pryor started nine games as the Raiders quarterback. He’s now a receiver with the Washington Redskins.

Carr, a rookie in 2014, won the starting QB job from veteran Matt Schaub in training camp and Oakland ended up covering in eight of their 16 games that season with Carr at the helm.
Sportsbooks ended the underdog streak on Oct. 4, 2015 when Raiders visited the Chicago Bears. The Silver and Black lost outright and failed to cover as 3-point chalk.

San Francisco 49ers: September 14, 2015 – October 16, 2016

Consecutive games as underdogs: 22
ATS record during streak: 8-14

The Niners’ run of misery began the minute former coach Jim Harbaugh left and just two years removed from their NFC championship team. Jim Tomsula wasn’t the answer as Harbaugh’s replacement and the club struggled to replace Patrick Willis and Justin Smith on the defensive side of the ball.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick played his worst season as a pro and Blaine Gabbert started the final eight games of the season under center.

The Niners were favored twice last season and failed to cover in both contests. Oddsmakers haven’t made San Fran the betting favorite in any games since the club failed to beat the visiting New York Jets in Week 14 last season.

Detroit Lions: September 14, 2008 – October 18, 2009

Consecutive games as underdogs: 21
ATS record during streak: 9-12

The last team to go winless in a season is the last team on our list. The 2008 Lions started off as 3.5-point favorites at the Atlanta Falcons. Detroit lost that game and every other game that season. The only good from the dreadful campaign is finally meant the axe for long-time team executive Matt Millen.

The Lions were installed as 3.5-point chalk at home against the Rams in Week 8 – off a bye – and still lost outright. They were favored a few weeks later against the Browns but failed to cover the spread.

Other long streaks from 20 plus years ago: 1988 Dallas Cowboys (35 games), 1985 Indianapolis Colts (26 games), 1992 Cincinnati Bengals (25), 1991 Arizona Cardinals (23), 1987 Atlanta Falcons (22 games).

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