Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Super Bowl Angles - Week 1

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2019 NFL Historical Betting Angles
Super Bowl Combatants

Meaningful professional football is finally back, as for the first time in years we get a season opening game not featuring the defending Super Bowl Champions. New England gets its season started on Sunday Night Football against Pittsburgh, and the Patriots along with the Los Angeles Rams are apart of an ever popular theory regarding Super Bowl combatants in the season opener the following year.

Generally speaking, fading defending champions is a great starting point to look at with a defending champion in any professional sport – so NBA and NHL bettors keep that in mind - with the Toronto Raptors and St. Louis Blues beginning new seasons in October.

However, the opposite holds true in the NFL this century as defending champions have been a great team to back in the first game the following season.

So with the Rams and Patriots both in action on Sunday, and both laying less than a touchdown, will historical trends for both the defending champion and Super Bowl loser hold true?

Super Bowl Winners in Week 1

Super Bowl Winner - Week 1 History (2000-2018)
Year SB Winner Opponent Score (SU-ATS-O/U Result)
2018 Philadelphia (PK) vs. Atlanta 18-12 (Win-Win-Under)
2017 New England (-8) vs. Kansas City 42-27 (Loss-Loss-Over)
2016 Denver (+3) vs. Carolina 21-20 (Win-Win-Over)
2015 New England (-7) vs. Pittsburgh 28-21 (Win-Push-Under)
2014 Seattle (-4.5) vs. Green Bay 36-16 (Win-Win-Over)
2013 Baltimore (+7.5) at Denver 27-49 (Loss-Loss-Over)
2012 N.Y. Giants (-3.5) vs. Dallas 17-24 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2011 Green Bay (-4.5) vs. New Orleans 42-34 (Win-Win-Over)
2010 New Orleans (-4.5) vs. Minnesota 14-9 (Win-Win-Under)
2009 Pittsburgh (-5) vs. Tennessee 13-10 (Win-Loss-Under)
2008 N.Y. Giants (-4) vs. Washington 16-7 (Win-Win-Under)
2007 Indianapolis (-5) vs. New Orleans 41-10 (Win-Win-Under)
2006 Pittsburgh (-7.5) vs. Miami 28-17 (Win-Win-Over)
2005 New England (-7.5) vs. Oakland 30-20 (Win-Win-Over)
2004 New England (-3) vs. Indianapolis 27-24 (Win-Push-Over)
2003 Tampa Bay (+3) vs. Philadelphia 17-0 (Win-Win-Under)
2002 New England (PK) vs. Pittsburgh 30-14 (Win-Win-Over)
2001 Baltimore (-10) vs. Chicago 17-6 (Win-Win-Under)
2000 St. Louis (-7) vs. Denver 41-36 (Win-Loss-Over)

Thanks to the Eagles opening up last year with a 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Super Bowl winners are now 16-3 straight up and 12-5-2 against the spread since 2000, with the 2012 and 2013 season openers being the only time a defending champion has failed to cover two years in a row. That's quite a run of cashing tickets for defending champions, and even with New England's spread currently being in that no man's land zone of -5.5, laying that chalk against Pittsburgh on SNF may be worth it.

However, history is only a guide into the future and not a certainty in predicting the future, and the fact that the Patriots spread has been relatively static in that -5.5/-6 range all summer long is telling as well. Spreads usually get put in that range so as the oddsmakers can let the initial market dictate where a more true number should be and move accordingly. But minimal movement there is just as potentially problematic, because the market is just as unsure about this number with only past year's data and analysis to go off of.

The Patriots are the Patriots, so they will always get their fair share of support in the market regardless, so if you are a believer in history for these defending champs, you'll probably want to get on New England sooner rather then later. The more money the Patriots get leading into Sunday will help push that number potentially back up over -6, so if Pittsburgh's the team you are eyeing, it's likely best to wait.

But one more final note on New England before we get over to the Rams as the Super Bowl loser. These past champions that went into next season not laying at least a full seven points are 8-3-1 ATS in season opener's. That's a very strong sub-set that specifically applies to the Patriots this week, and given all the change we are likely to get from Pittsburgh with the roster moves they made this summer, Patriots at -6 or lower probably is the way to go.

Super Bowl Losers in Week 1

Super Bowl Loser - Week 1 History (1999-2018)
Year SB Loser Opponent Score (SU-ATS-O/U Result)
2018 New England (-6) vs. Houston 27-20 (Win-Win-Under)
2017 Atlanta (-7) at Chicago 23-17 (Win-Loss-Under)
2016 Carolina (-3) at Denver 20-21 (Loss-Loss-Over)
2015 Seattle (-3.5) at St. Louis 31-34 - OT (Loss-Loss-Over)
2014 Denver (-8) vs. Indianapolis 31-24 (Win-Loss-Over)
2013 San Francisco (-5.5) vs. Green Bay 34-28 (Win-Win-Over)
2012 New England (-5) at Tennessee 34-13 (Win-Win-Under)
2011 Pittsburgh (+1) at Baltimore 7-35 (Loss-Loss-Over)
2010 Indianapolis (-2.5) at Houston 24-34 (Loss-Loss-Over)
2009 Arizona (-6.5) vs. San Francisco 6-20 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2008 New England (-16) vs. Kansas City 17-10 (Win-Loss-Under)
2007 Chicago (+6) at San Diego 3-14 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2006 Seattle (-6) at Detroit 9-6 (Win-Loss-Under)
2005 Philadelphia (-1) at Atlanta 10-14 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2004 Carolina (-3) vs. Green Bay 14-24 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2003 Oakland (+3) at Tennessee 20-25 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2002 St. Louis (-3) at Denver 16-23 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2001 N.Y. Giants (+3) vs. San Francisco 13-16 (Loss-Loss-Under)
2000 Tennessee (PK) at Buffalo 13-16 (Loss-Loss-Under)
1999 Atlanta (+4) at Minnesota 14-17 (Loss-Win-Under)

While backing the defending champ has worked well in recent years, so has fading the Super Bowl loser from the past season. This year that role goes to the aforementioned Rams and thrown on top of that is the fact that Los Angeles begins its 2019 season out on the road laying points for an early body clock (1:00 p.m. ET) start time in Carolina this Sunday. Super Bowl loser or not, that's a really tough situational spot to back a team like the Rams as it is.

Super Bowl losers have gone 7-13 SU and 5-15 ATS the following years since 1999, and both of those numbers were boosted by a Patriots seven-point win as -6 favorites at home last year against Houston in the opener. It was the first time in five seasons that the Super Bowl loser covered their opener the next year, and the previous three that had all failed to cover, all dealt with what the Rams are dealing with this week; laying points on the road. New England didn't have to deal with that last year as they were able to start at home, but road teams in this role have gone 3-10 SU and 2-11 ATS in that same span, which is just downright brutal.

That's the type of history that Rams backers will be spitting on this upcoming week, but with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's health still being a bit up in the air for Carolina, it's not like there aren't some sound reasons behind backing the Rams as well. But with how cautious they took the preseason in terms of starters not getting reps, and running back Todd Gurley still dealing with a contract issue, fading the Rams in Week 1 might gain so much steam early in the week that we could get a scenario where Carolina all of a sudden finds themselves in that public underdog role.

It will be an interesting game to see how the line shakes out by kickoff, but even with history on Carolina's side and going against the Rams, there is too much uncertainty in terms of health/sharpness on both sides that it's probably best to wait and see what news comes out during the week. Sleeping on backing Carolina in such a good spot isn't necessarily a bad option.

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