Total Talk – Week 1

The 2018 NFL regular season is underway and total bettors playing the ‘under’ in last Thursday’s opener between the Eagles and Falcons were treated to a wire-to-wire winner.

Philadelphia captured an 18-12 victory at home and ‘under’ 44 ½ was never in doubt. Even though the betting public usually leans high in the nationally televised primetime games, this game was bet down from an opener of 47 and the move was certainly right. 

Fifteen games left in Week 1 and plenty to discuss.

Line Moves and Public Leans

Listed below are the largest line moves for Week 1 as of Saturday morning per [...].

Pittsburgh at Cleveland: 47 to 41
Buffalo at Baltimore: 42 ½ to 40 ½
Dallas at Carolina: 44 to 42 ½

The global outfit opened their numbers in late April, one of the first books to do so and the lines have held steady outside of the Browns-Steelers matchup. A lot of the downward movement on this game came this week when hopes of Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell returning to the lineup were diminished.

Listed below are the largest betting trend percentages per the VI Matchup index as of Saturday.

Steelers-Browns: Under 86%
Bills-Ravens: Under 85%
Jaguars-Giants: Under 82%
Rams-Raiders: Under 77%
Titans-Dolphins:  Under 75%

It’s a little surprising to see this many low-side leans knowing most bettors lean to ‘over’ tickets but I could certainly see the argument for the five leans above.

Fifty Something

Even though a lot of pundits believe scoring will increase this season due to the new rule changes helping offensive units, we only have one Week 1 total listed in the fifties.

That matchup takes place in Foxboro between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots. The two teams met last season in Week 3 from Gillette Stadium and ‘over’ (44 ½) bettors cashed an easy ticket with New England holding off Houston 33-30.

That game was the coming-out party for Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, who lit up New England for 342 total yards and two touchdowns. In six games as starter before his knee injury, the Texans averaged 34.6 points per game. Watson is certainly a huge ‘wildcard’ this season but if healthy and back to last year’s form, it’s certainly hard to imagine a huge drop-off in 2018.

New England was a tough team to figure out last season from a totals perspective. They started 2017 with four ‘over’ winners in a row but the defense improved and the ‘under’ closed the regular season on a 9-3 run. The ‘over’ went 2-1 in the postseason and the last thing bettors recall is New England making Eagles backup QB Nick Foles look like an all-time great. Watching him on Thursday versus the Falcons and in the preseason, it’s safe to say that we agree Foles shouldn’t be placed in that echelon.

Historically, this series has watched the ‘over’ go 8-2 in the 10 meetings between the pair and the Patriots have averaged 33.1 PPG in those games. Make a note that the number jumps to 35.4 PPG with Tom Brady as starting quarterback.

One trend that could have you leaning high focuses on a Super Bowl angle with the runner-up of last year’s finale. It’s widely known to back last year’s winner and that cashed Thursday with Philadelphia. It’s also known to fade the loser, which is New England. Along with fading the Patriots, the ‘over’ has gone 6-2 in the last eight openers for the SB loser.

Divisional Matchups

Week 1 has four divisional matchups on tap in Week 1 and one will be played in the Sunday primetime slot.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland: The ‘under’ has gone 7-3 in the last 10 meetings but we’ve seen a stalemate the past two seasons (2-2). In the last four, both games in Pittsburgh went ‘over’ while the two matchups in Cleveland saw the low side connect and many bettors believe that trend will continue.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans: This series has had some high totals recently with the last five meetings closing in the fifties. Despite the high expectations, the ‘under’ has gone 3-2 during this span and last year’s 31-24 win by Tampa Bay in Week 17 was fortunate to go ‘over’ as the pair combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB for the Bucs and in three starts for Tampa Bay last season, the club averaged 21.7 PPG. New Orleans has been a great ‘over’ bet in Week 1 recently, going 6-1 to the high side the last seven years. For those of you looking to lay the points with New Orleans, be aware that it is 1-6 during this run and the clubs has allowed an average 35.6 PPG in the setbacks.

Kansas City at L.A. Chargers: In a series dominated recently by the Chiefs (8-0 L8), we’ve also seen a strong ‘under’ (6-2) trend between the pair. The Chargers have been held to 13.8 PPG during this span. Los Angeles was the best ‘under’ bet (12-4) in the AFC last season, which was helped with the top ranked scoring defense (17 PPG). The unit is a little banged up (Bosa out) for Week 1 but should still have an edge over second-year QB Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs.

Chicago at Green Bay: (See Below)


Non-conference matchups are never an easy handicap but there are trends to keep an eye on for the opening weekend.

Jacksonville at N.Y. Giants: The Jaguars watched the ‘over’ go 4-0 versus the NFC last season and the well-respected defense allowed 30.5 PPG in those games. New York is 6-2 to the ‘under’ in its last eight matchups against AFC foes.

Seattle at Denver: Seattle has watched the ‘over’ go 15-5 in its last 20 non-conference games and that includes a run of seven straight to the high side. The Broncos are 5-2 to the ‘under’ in their last seven versus the NFC.

N.Y. Jets at Detroit: The Jets saw the ‘over’ go 3-1 in their four matchups against the NFC last season. The Lions surrendered 21.2 PPG to the AFC last season. The team went 1-3 and the lone win came against 0-16 Cleveland, who posted 24 on Detroit. The ‘over’ went 2-1-1.

L.A. Rams at Oakland: The Rams swept their four AFC opponents last season and the offense averaged 33.3 PPG, which helped the ‘over’ go 3-1. The Raiders took a step back in 2017 against the NFC, scoring just 15.3 PPG. That production led to a 1-3 record and 4-0 ‘under’ mark.

Under the Lights

SNF - Chicago at Green Bay: The ‘over’ has cashed in seven of the last 10 meetings between the pair and the Bears just don’t have an answer for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay is 15-4 against Chicago with him as a starter and it’s averaging 37.4 PPG in the last seven encounters. The Bears defense wasn’t exactly a pushover (20 PPG) last season and that helped the ‘under’ go 12-4 but two of the four ‘over’ tickets came vs. Green Bay. Since the SNF game is a huge ‘chase’ game for bettors, you know the books will be hoping for a Bears-Under combination.

The Monday Night Football double-header began in 2006 and continues this week with a pair of non-conference games (see above). We haven’t seen many glaring trends recently with the ‘over’ going 6-4 over the past five seasons.

N.Y. Jets at Detroit:  Based on Detroit’s reputation as an ‘over’ team, I would expect this line to get juiced up by kickoff. The Lions went 10-6 to the high side last season, 6-2 from Ford Field. Also, the Lions have seen the ‘over’ go 7-0 in their last seven Week 1 matchups and the offense has averaged 30.7 PPG in this span.

L.A. Rams at Oakland: The Rams were also a solid ‘over’ club last season (11-5) and a lot of that damage came on the road (7-1) because of their potent offense (32.8 PPG). Will we see a regression? Will the new-look L.A. defense keep opponents in check? We’ll find out soon enough and we’ll also get to see if head coach Jon Gruden can improve an Oakland offense (18.8 PPG) that struggled last season.

Fearless Predictions

This is my 11th year producing the “Total Talk” column on and certainly one of my favorites. For those new to the and the industry, welcome aboard and best of luck with your wagers. And to those that have circled back around, thanks for the loyalty. Remember, feedback is welcomed and appreciated. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck! 

Best Over: Seattle-Denver 42 ½

Best Under: Kansas City-L.A. Chargers 48 ½

Best Team Total: Over Cincinnati 23

Three-Team Total Teaser (+7.5, +105)
Over 40 Bengals-Colts
Over 42 Buccaneers-Saints
Over 37 ½ Jets-Lions

Chris David can be reached at

Where to place a bet this NFL Season?

  • Use our exclusive BetMGM Bonus Code VIBONUS1500 to unlock BetMGM’s welcome offer for new sportsbook users!
  • Compare the latest NFL Odds from the best sportsbooks before placing a bet on this week's games.
  • Check out the North Carolina Sportsbooks just before they launch legal online sports betting.