Who Has Been the Safest Bet in Sports Throughout the Decade?
What better way to encapsulate the holiday season and the start of the next decade than with gambling analysis? I did some research to see what teams have been the most reliable over the last 10 years. I looked at the statistics for the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Football and basketball are based off a point spread while baseball relies on the run line.
San Antonio Spurs 53.0% (447-396-18)
It is no surprise to me to see San Antonio on this list. A team that has featured players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and many other all stars have been dominant in this decade. They are tied with a league record of 22 straight playoff appearances from 1998 to 2019. Covering the spread for a team that was certainly favored for the mass majority of its game is not easy either. While they have only won one championship this decade in 2014, their presence has always been a threat. We may see the infamous playoff streak end this year for a lackluster team featuring DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Cincinnati Bengals 53.5% (84-73-7)
This was quite a surprise for me. I would think that sharing the division with playoff staples Pittsburgh and Baltimore would push their record against the spread below they 50% threshold. In fact, both the Ravens and Steelers are not on this list. That division has always had intense rivalries that no game between them is a given. The Bengals were almost always the underdogs in these matchups which may have been enough to lift them to this threshold. They even went to the playoffs 5 of 6 years from 2010 to 2015 despite not winning a single game in the postseason. Andy Dalton has led the most average team in NFL history to betting success this decade. Have fun Joe Burrow.
Indianapolis Colts 53.7% (87-75-6)
It is quite impressive for the Colts to be on this list considering it includes the 2012 season. For those of you who don’t remember, that was the year the Colts placed a Franchise Tag on Peyton Manning who sat the season due to a neck injury. The Colts replaced Manning with a retired Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter. The Colts posted a 2-14 record that year placing 27th in passing yard, 30th in yards gained, and 28th in scoring. It’s always possible they were able to cover the massive spreads they were given during that season. This record, to me, is a testament of how good Andrew Luck was when he took over in 2013. The highest touted quarterback talent of decade whose name isn’t Joe Burrow was able to live up to expectations to a certain degree. Well, at least in the sports books’ standards.
Dallas Mavericks 53.8% (422-362-10)
I don’t think we will ever really appreciate what Dirk Nowitzki did for the league. He opened the door for players outside of the United States to become super stars in the NBA. There is no doubt he was a major influence for players like Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid. He redefined what the role of a what a big man could do while on the floor. Every Power Forward that comes into the league is expected to be a capable three point shooter. Before Dirk, it was a rarity. It just so happens that he also led a team that was great against the spread. The Mavericks have always been an underestimated team so I would imagine their spreads were much tighter than their dominant counterparts. That would give them an opportunity to win in the eyes of the sports book.
Kansas City Chiefs 54.5% (90-75-2)
For a team that sported quarterback Matt Cassel from 2010 to 2012 its surprising to see them so high on this list although I suppose a bad team also gets the most favored spreads. I would mostly attribute this percentage to the many stable years that Alex Smith provided for them from 2013 to 2018. In his first season, he brought the Chiefs to an 11-5 record. They also had 10 pro bowlers that year versus 2 just a couple years prior. No one can deny Andy Reid’s influence on this team as well. The team now has Patrick Mahomes at their franchise quarterback who has probably brought up their record into this top spot over the last couple years.
Minnesota Vikings 55.4% (88-71-4)
This one is proof that the spread is not always indicative of success. The Vikings went 3-13 in 2011, 5-10-1 in 2013, 7-9 in 2014, 8-8 in 2016, and 8-7-1 in 2018. This average team led by quarterbacks such as Christian Ponder and Donovan McNabb somehow saw consistent success in sports books. A few great years from Adrian Peterson, Teddy Bridgewater, and Kirk Cousins certainly had their hand in making the record as good as it is.
New Orleans Saints 55.4% (92-74-2)
The New Orleans Saints led by Drew Brees have been a stable force for an entire decade. They have only posted a negative record in 3 of the past 10 years. The solidarity brought by Sean Payton and Drew Brees has ensured smooth transitions from all over the roster. Brees has been given plenty of targets over the years from Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, and Michael Thomas that has given him to tools to lead the Saints to betting success. While I’m sure they would have enjoyed more Super Bowls, gamblers can rest easy knowing the Saints have been a good bet throughout the decade.
Seattle Seahawks 55.7% (93-74-7)
Matt Hasselback and Tavaris Jackson were both able to lead the Seahawks to 7-9 seasons before the arrival of Russell Wilson. It is easy to forget just how dominant Wilson has been in his career. He has not posted a negative record in all 8 years of playing. Being dominant doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful against the spread, but it does in this case. The Legion of Boom most likely had a lot to do with the Seahawks ability to separate themselves from the rest of the league.
Green Bay Packers 56.5% (96-74-4)
I think I am starting to notice a trend. It would appear the best quarterbacks paired with the same coaches tend to play well against the spread. The pairing of Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers started off this decade with a Super Bowl win and played well until McCarthy’s meltdown seasons in 2017 to 2018. In fact, those were the only two losing seasons when the two played together. New head coach Matt LaFleur has led the Packers back to a 12-3 winning season. Green Bay’s commitment to drafting defensive players has probably helped sports betters more than Rodgers himself.
New England Patriots (106-70-5)
If you are playing sports trivia and you guess either the Patriots or Tom Brady, you would probably be right 90% of the time. They are the only team on this list without a losing record throughout the decade. In fact, they have never even dipped below 10 wins. You would think that a team with such high expectations is bound to lose against the spread. You would be wrong of course. It’s the Patriots. Do you expect anything different?
You will notice that there are no baseball teams on this list. That was not a mistake. The closest team to make the list was the Oakland A’s with a 52.4% cover percentage and an 856-777-0 run line record. In conclusion, when in doubt, just bet on the Patriots.