Five best NFL franchises to bet on during the Super Bowl era

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The NFL season doesn't kick off for a while, but we do know the 2020 schedule, and opening lines have been released for Week 1, Monday Night Football games and some other key matchups.

As we prepare to get back in to the swing of things and return to betting, we decided to take a look back at the best teams to bet on over the course of the Super Bowl era.

Our NFL Nation reporters offer their input while discussing the top five franchises to bet on against the spread, percentage-wise, using research from ESPN Stats & Information.

No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs (432-386-14 ATS, .528)

The Chiefs have been the NFL's best team against the number during the Super Bowl era, and even better recently. According to ESPN Stats & Info, since 1990 the Chiefs in the regular season have covered the spread 52.3% of the time as a favorite, 54.5% of the time as an underdog and 75% of the time when the game is a pick 'em. With Patrick Mahomes at the helm and Andy Reid coaching, they're set up to reward bettors for years to come. -- Adam Teicher

No. 2: Philadelphia Eagles (432-387-13, .527)

The Eagles have the second-best mark against the spread in the Super Bowl era. It is the city of underdogs, right? While Philadelphia has only one Lombardi trophy to its name, it has been a consistently competitive franchise over much of the past four-plus decades while avoiding long down streaks. Credit strong coaching for some of that. From Dick Vermeil to Andy Reid to Doug Pederson, the Eagles have found leaders who inspire loyalty and accountability among the players. Reid's tenure in particular stands out. The Eagles enjoyed eight double-digit-win seasons under him. -- Tim McManus

No. 3: Carolina Panthers (204-186-10, .523)

Look no further than Carolina's 2015 run to an NFL-best 15-1 regular-season record followed by a trip to Super Bowl 50 for why the Panthers have been so good against the spread. Expectations, at least nationally, were low. The Panthers traditionally have been the underdog. And why shouldn't they be? The franchise hasn't had consecutive winning seasons since it began playing in 1995. Even in winning the NFC South three straight years (2013-15), one of those seasons was 7-8-1. So when 2015 rolled around, the Panthers were a long shot with 60-1 odds to make the Super Bowl. Even though they won their first 14 games, they were considered underdogs until consecutive wins over Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Green Bay in Weeks 7-9.

That the NFC South was considered weak coming off a 2014 season in which no team had a winning record added to the low expectations. What got lost in the mix that year and in previous seasons was that Carolina had some phenomenal parts in quarterback Cam Newton (the 2015 NFL MVP), middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and tight end Greg Olsen, to name a few. Now that they're all gone, expectations will be lower than ever, so look for them to still pull off upsets against the spread under new coach Matt Rhule, considered a rebuilding guru at the college level. -- David Newton

No. 4: New England Patriots (423-388-21, .522)

The Patriots didn't just win a bundle of games during the past three decades, they covered more games than most teams, finishing with the fourth-best ATS record. Part of their success in this area was rooted in coach Bill Belichick's core philosophy (2000-present) of not allowing his players to overlook any team, in any situation. He had a knack for making the worst team seem like the 1985 Chicago Bears -- and players generally bought in to what he was selling. Also, Belichick regularly stressed playing 60 minutes, which often meant keeping the pedal pushed to the floor and avoiding potential backdoor covers when leading. -- Mike Reiss

No. 5: Pittsburgh Steelers (421-390-21, .519)

The Steelers have been a favorite for bettors -- and with good reason. They have the fifth-best ATS mark in the Super Bowl Era, and according to ESPN Stats and Info, rank third ATS (249-218-13, 53.3 percent) since 1990 behind only the Patriots and Chiefs. Since 1990, the Steelers have been favored a league-best 325 times and are 162-154-9 in those contests. Over the same period, the Steelers have been an underdog a league-low 151 times and are 84-63-4 ATS (57.1 percent, second-best mark in the NFL) in those instances. -- Brooke Pryor