Expert Betting Predictions and Analysis for NFL Week 1 Wagering Odds
There is still a long time between now and the start of the NFL season - too long. And there is no good reason to bet on the first week of NFL action now - at least not unless the line was so wrong that you couldn't resist. There is just too much time before the first game and too much that could change that would be significant. But that doesn't mean that there isn't value in looking at the lines as they are currently available. The numbers can provide us insight into what oddsmakers and the early betting public are thinking, and it gives us a chance to figure out what disparities between the posted numbers and our perceptions mean. Here are five numbers posted at Bovada that are the most interesting to my eye at this point. It's important to note that interesting doesn't always mean bettable:
Philadelphia (-4) vs. Atlanta: The Eagles come into this season with a tremendous amount of pressure on their shoulders - and a target on their backs a mile wide. They are a talented team coming off a strong offseason, but being the defending champion is very tough, and they don't have a lot of prior playoff experience to draw on when it comes to figuring out how to deal with this. They also have to figure out their QB situation. Atlanta was a playoff disappointment last year, but they are a solid team and come into this season as a solid contender. Philadelphia is at home, and that will obviously be a benefit. But the crowd will be giddy - this is the first real time they have seen them since the Super Bowl win, so the crowd and the celebration could be a distraction. Philadelphia gets more than the home-field advantage according to this line. I will need more time to become convinced that this is warranted.
New England (-7) vs. Houston: The Patriots are solid favorites to win the Super Bowl right now. That makes me uneasy. I'm a Tom Brady guy, and I have obvious respect for what they have done, but I am not yet convinced by where they are at on either side of the ball. They could be better defensively, but that isn't assured. And on offense they have questions on the line and at receiver - at least. I'm a big Deshaun Watson believer, and the Texans were 5-2 ATS in his seven games last season, so his return is a real positive here. And the Texans are a pretty solid team beyond him. The oddsmakers clearly suggest that they think - or at least that the public will think - that New England is dramatically better here. But Houston could easily deserve more credit. The Patriots were the strongest ATS team in the league last year. I would bet quite strongly against that happening, and the decline could start here. Or at least that is what it feels like now.
Denver (-2.5) vs. Seattle: The Broncos should be a team on the rise - they have at least a chance at competence or better at the quarterback position, and that wasn't really the case last year. And the Seahawks seem like a team that could be in decline as they move into transition from the Super Bowl teams of the past to the teams of the future. It also feels like both of these teams could be nearing a coaching change if things don't go well for them this year. I think Denver should be better than Seattle, but there is so much up in the air that this is a very tough game to figure out at this point - as the line suggests.
Minnesota (-5.5) vs. San Francisco: Both of these teams are interesting because they are both extremely confident - and very heavily invested - in their QB situation. Kirk Cousins is the newer addition, and he has a deeper, better team behind him. But the Niners are well coached and have improved significantly. Minnesota should win this game, but they carry a lot of pressure and have gone through plenty of changes. The Niners could play like there is nothing to lose here. This is the most interesting line on the board in the first week and the most interesting game on the field, for that matter.
Baltimore (-6) vs. Buffalo: Buffalo is a flawed team, and they have some big questions at quarterback - at least in the longer term if not in the first couple of games. But Baltimore is far from a complete team. They have some distractions at quarterback to deal with of their own, and they have changed their entire receiving corps among other shifts this offseason. This line suggests that Baltimore is far ahead of where Buffalo is right now. That could be the case, but it is no lock at all. Nothing would be a surprise in this game at all - literally nothing - so this line is certainly one to watch in my eyes. As it sits now, it doesn't make a whole ton of sense.
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