I have been staring at these NFL Week 1 odds long enough to make my eyes bleed. Now its time to make the books bleed.
The sportsbooks, both online and in Las Vegas, posted early NFL lines back in May. They do this to generate interest and stoke the flame of the biggest moneymaker in gambling. Then the NFL Week 1 spreads hit the board in earnest back in July, with most of the early action on these games came from sharp, professional bettors.
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Well, over the last week the rabid football betting public has gotten involved in the market. The lines have reacted accordingly.
To most bettors the only spread that matters is the one they get their money down on. But I like to use the original NFL lines and the direction (and severity) of the line movements as a kind of guide as to what the betting public sees when they look at these teams. In some instances heavy line movement can be a red herring. But in other instances it can be a huge red flag.
Here is a look at the biggest line movements associated with the NFL in Week 1 (all times EST):
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (1 p.m.)
Open: Buffalo +6.0
Current: Buffalo +2.5
There is no doubt that the Jets have had a terrible preseason. They have devolved from a team that was considered a true AFC contender back in April to a circus clown car and sideshow in September. In that same time the Bills have made enough personnel moves to get people excited about them as a “sleeper” team in their division. It is the perfect storm of one team seen as hot (Buffalo) and the opponent as cold (New York). We’ll see how it plays out on the field.
Washington at New Orleans (1 p.m.)
Open: Washington +11.0
Current: Washington +7.0
Again, there is a nice confluence of events at work here to drive this line movement. People are buying into rookie quarterbacks in a big way this preseason and Robert Griffin III is building quite a buzz for the Redskins. On top of that, no team in football had as trying of an offseason as New Orleans. Suspensions, controversy, and an all-out war with the NFL front office has people souring on these former champions. This line looks like the market is buying into the promise of RG3 vs. the seeming disorder of New Orleans.
New England at Tennessee (1 p.m.)
Open: New England -6.5
Current: New England -5.5
This line movement has been setting off major red flags. The Patriots are clearly viewed as the stronger team but this spread has moved a full point in the last 24 hours. There is no reason for it other than some hard, sharp action coming in on the side of the home Titans here. Tennessee has played great football so far this preseason and they are excited about new starter Jake Locker. New England has not looked good this preseason. Their offensive line is in shambles and they’ve had some injury issues. I can personally tell you that a lot of wise guys are all over the Titans this weekend and that is definitely driving this movement.
Miami at Houston (1 p.m.)
Open: Miami +6.0
Current: Miami +12.5
This one is pretty straightforward. Miami is a completely different team now than they were back in May when these lines first hit the boards in earnest back in July. A rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback now lead them and the Fins are in a full-blown rebuilding mode. Houston has just been getting stronger and stronger and they are one of the preseason NFL Super Bowl favorites. These are just two teams going in different directions, while the line is clearly going in just one direction: up.
Atlanta at Kansas City (1 p.m.)
Current: Atlanta -3.0
The Chiefs are a very polarizing team right now in betting circles. Some people like them as a sleeper team to come out and win the AFC West. Other people see a shaky infrastructure and a team that overachieved its way to 8-8 last year. Either way, Atlanta has looked better this preseason so they are getting the love from bettors right now. Injuries aren’t helping the Chiefs outlook, but playing in Arrowhead is always a big boost for this group.
Seattle at Arizona (4:20 p.m.)
Open: Seattle +2.5
Current: Seattle -2.5
This line is all about one thing: quarterbacks. Both teams had all-out quarterback battles in training camp. John Skelton was the victor in Arizona while rookie Russell Wilson was the surprise choice for the Seahawks. The markets are obviously responding favorably to Wilson and not so much to Skelton. Seattle has dominated this series the last two years and seem to have the better roster around the QBs.
Robert Ferringo is a professional NFL handicapper and got off to a great start with a winning college football weekend. This week he will have a FULL NFL card that will include a 7-Unit NFL Game of the Year selection. Robert has posted back-to-back profitable seasons (college and pro) and over the last 12 months his clients have more than tripled their bankrolls with his predictions in all sports. He is looking forward to building on his stellar football handicapping resume again this fall and you can check him out here.