Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM
Hot & Not Report - Week 1
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Super Bowl Angles - Week 1
It's finally here. After a long seven-month off-season, regular season NFL games will finally grace millions of television screens across the world this week. It's the 100th year of the league and because of that celebration we get a Packers/Bears opening game on TNF instead of the defending champs raising a banner, as that waits until SNF when that broadcast crew heads to New England.
But it's the first week of the season which means hope springs eternal for every player and fan across the entire league, and Week 1 action is one where there is typically no shortage of action on seemingly every game. With that in mind, I've gone out and grouped together two specific scenarios that apply to seven games in Week 1, including that opener in Chicago.
Let's get right to it:
Week 1 Underdogs in Divisional games – 11-4-2 ATS the past four years
It's not the easiest thing in the NFL to start out a new season with an all-important divisional game, but it's become part of the routine for Giants and Cowboys fans. Dallas and the New York Giants have met in Week 1 in three of the past four years, and will do so again this year as part of the late afternoon slate on Sunday. New York is catching a touchdown in that contest, and if recent history is any indication, grabbing those points may be worth your time.
Underdogs in divisional games have cashed ATS tickets at 73% clip (ignoring pushes) the past four years. Seven of those 11 cashes have been thanks to road underdogs like the role the Giants find themselves in this week. But New York is a team many are going to take a big leap of faith on to back in certain spots this year given their season-long projections, but there are given that underdogs catching at least 6 full points on the spread in Week 1 divisional games account for a 6-3 ATS mark in that 11-4-2 record, grabbing the perceived far worse team does tend to pay out. Given that the three ATS wins by favorites in that scenario have come by 1.5, 16, and 2 points clear of the closing line, and the six underdogs that cashed those tickets are 2-4 SU as well, money bets shouldn't be taken off the table either.
Last year there were just three divisional games on the Week 1 card and the underdog cashed in all of them. Cleveland managed to tie Pittsburgh, the Tampa Bay Bucs shocked New Orleans with a 48-40 win as 10-point road underdogs, and the Bears blew an early outright lead in a 24-23 loss to Green Bay that will always be remembered for Aaron Rodgers return from a 1st half injury.
So it's not like recent form isn't there either, and with Green Bay (+3.5) @ Chicago (TNF), Washington (+9.5) @ Philadelphia, Buffalo (+3) vs NY Jets, NY Giants (+7) vs Dallas, and Denver (+1) vs Oakland as potential options in 2019, breaking down those games and teams further over the next few days can only help your bankroll.
That's because when you think about why a run like this has happened for divisional underdogs in Week 1 on a macro scale, it's boils down to a few simplistic things. The biggest of those being that it's still the first week of a season, and no matter what the summer-long projections have looked like, or what these point spreads suggest, nobody in the market really has a full grasp on what any team is going to be about in 2019.
Sure, there are plenty of handicappers who go the armchair GM route and break down things by ranking players, the bettors who are good at doing that are few and far between. It tends to be their action that influences early market moves in a Week 1 atmosphere, while the rest of it is just white noise. If you were to transplant Week 1 games to say Week 10, when much more is known about all 32 NFL teams (on both sides of the counter), chances are nearly every line would look significantly quite different. That's not to say betting 'dogs across the board is a phenomenal strategy in Week 1, but if there ever was a week to use the idea that “the wrong team may be favored”, Week 1 would be it. And recent history suggests that divisional 'dogs tend to be the way to go.
Week 1 Home teams in non-conference games – 5-10 SU last three years
Division games aren't the only ones to target in Week 1, as non-conference games are another specific scenario that has shown a profitable angle the past three years. That would be to fade the home team ATS and/or SU as they've only won outright five times in 15 tries over the past three years. 2019 has two games that fit this bill – Cincinnati vs Seattle (-9.5) and Houston vs New Orleans (-7) on MNF.
With Seattle and New Orleans being the chalk layers at home this year, fading both of them in following this system is best done against the spread, as you are getting at least a touchdown on both. Houston's got to be more attractive then the Bengals are from a sheer health and talent standpoint, but this recent trend doesn't discriminate, as all three times it's applied where the home side has been laying at least a TD, the underdog is a perfect 3-0 ATS with two outright wins. One of those was last year's MNF game between the Jets and Lions where New York went into Detroit and laid the wood to the Lions (48-17), while the other was a Jimmy Garoppolo game with New England back in 2016 when Brady was sitting out his Deflategate suspension.
Seattle and New Orleans are arguably the two places with the best home field advantage in the sport though, so Cincinnati and Houston could be in tough in terms of outright wins. But history is on their side this week, and like I said earlier, it's still Week 1 and nobody anywhere has a great handle on any of these teams quite yet.
One more thing for these two games to keep in mind this week as well. The 'over' has gone 9-6 in non-conference games the past three years with the average score clocking in at 48.2 points per game. The Houston/New Orleans total is currently sitting about five points higher than that in the 53.5 range, but the Bengals/Seahawks contest is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum sitting five points lower at 43. That might be the game that 'over' bettors want to target, as only six of those 15 games had fewer than 44 points scored.