The Ultimate NFL Week 1 Betting Cheat Sheet
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The bitter sweet ending of summer is always greeted by the start of the football season to make cold weather and sweaters seem a little less depressing.
Set your fantasy lineups, make your survivor pool picks, but don’t click away without getting a full breakdown of 5 NFL games I’m betting this week to make your Sundays a little more profitable.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
Spread: Colts -2.5
To the naked eye, this is a game with many unknowns. Is Andrew Luck healthy? Why is Marvin Lewis still coaching professional football? Both of these teams have talent on the offensive side.
The line opened at -3 with heavy action of over 70% of bets on the Bengals. A trendy road underdog is never an attractive sign. I like the colts to win this football game and cover the spread, but that’s not what I’m betting in this game.
The Colts secondary is going to have trouble covering the size of AJ Green, the speed of John Ross, and the versality out of the backfield in Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. There will be chunk plays there for the taking for Andy Dalton all day. I would have trouble naming more than one or two starters on the Colts defense. Seriously. I bet you couldn’t either.
On the other side, the Colts should have their way on offense as well. The Bengals will be without Vontaze Burfict for a month and that opens a major hole in a penetrable zone of this defense. The Colts like to use the tight end position over the middle and they have two athletes in Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle to make it happen.
This game will feature big plays from the Bengals and a lot of quick over the middle completions from Andrew Luck and the Colts. Whoever gets the ball last just might win the game.
My Bet: OVER 48
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Spread: Vikings -6.5
Kirk Cousins has never won a season opener! Ok. I got a little ahead of myself but really, he hasn’t. He’s 0-3.
I’m not crazy though and I wouldn’t make a bet off of a weak, 3 game sample statistic like that but it’s something to keep in mind.
The 49ers did just lose their starting running back in Jerrick Mckinnon, but he was never going to be the workhorse anyways. They have players who can make plays and Jimmy Garoppolo is still undefeated. He’s pretty good too.
The Vikings have a stingy defense but the 49ers play a style that wears teams down. We saw flashes of what they were capable of after acquiring Garoppolo last season. They controlled the ball, dictated the tempo of the game, made first downs, and manufactured long, productive drives. Your defense improves when they can rest on the sidelines.
Mike Zimmer is a sneaky spread wizard and covers at the highest rate in the NFL since becoming the Vikings head coach but that doesn’t scare me. Road underdogs are heavily undervalued in week 1 and I believe it will take some time for Cousins to warm up to his new team.
My Bet: 49ers +6.5
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Spread: Chargers -3
The Chargers may be the most cursed, heart breaking team in the NFL. They are that ex you can never get over but when you get that 2am text you are always going to go back for more. They are a fun team with talent at all positions. They have elite wide receivers, elite running backs, great pass rushers, and lockdown corners but somehow they find ways to lose games in brutal fashion.
Putting the past aside, I think this year will be different and specifically in week 1. Patrick Mahomes starting his first game on the road against a stingy defense is a recipe for disaster. Granted both Bosa and Verret will not be playing, but this defense is still loaded with Ingram and Hayward to hold it down.
The edge for the Chargers game is on the other side of the ball though. With Eric Berry not playing, the Chiefs have no answer for the Chargers. They can put Keenan Allen anywhere on the field with no resistance. He runs primarily in the slot and will dominate his way to a 10 catch 100+ yard performance. The Chargers also have second year Mike Williams to provide size in the red zone and I believe he is a matchup problem for the Chiefs too.
They also like to use Gordon and Ekeler out of the backfield to catch passes and the Chiefs linebackers will have difficulty getting to the flat with their speed. Philip Rivers is a different animal at home and despite his past struggles against Kansas City, he has yet to face their defense at a level this low.
Chargers win easy.
My bet: Chargers -3
Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
Spread: Cardinals -1
Only because of my gambling and fantasy football passions would this game ever be on someone’s radar but I search the betting market to find value and to make some money. This game provides the perfect opportunity. On paper, it looks like it’ll be a couple of bad offenses who can’t move the ball but I don’t think either of these teams will have a terrible time scoring.
First, the Redskins improved from last year. Alex Smith is a better player than Kirk Cousins. You may disagree but I’ll debate that with you any day. It’s just a fact. They went out and signed Paul Richardson, drafted Derrius Guice (damn ACL), made some offensive line improvements, and have youth developing.
Alex Smith does not take risks, protects the ball, and completes high percentage throws. He had the season of his life last year and though he doesn’t have the same weapons now, he has some confidence. He has a big tight end who is a red zone threat, a dangerous slot receiver in Jamison Crowder, an athletic jump ball receiver in Doctson, and a speedy deep threat in Paul Richardson. They should have no problem moving up and down the field on the Cardinals.
Don’t forget about AP either. He may be old but he looked healthy and in shape in the preseason and could be a huge sleeper for this team moving forward.
On the other side of the field is the Cardinals. It doesn’t look as pretty for them but Sam Bradford is a competent quarterback who has shown the ability to make plays when he’s on the field. There is no guarantee he will be in week 2 but he’s definitely starting this game. David Johnson will have plenty of room to run on one of the league’s worst rush defenses last season and Larry Fitzgerald will avoid Josh Norman because he primarily works out of the slot. This is a plus matchup for the Cardinals and could help they manufacture points in bunches.
Be prepared for points. At least enough to break 44.
My bet: OVER 44
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
Spread: Panthers -3
This is my favorite bet of the week. Both teams have some injuries to the offensive line positions and this is indicated in the low total.
A major weakness for the cowboys is their inability to defend running backs who can catch passes out of the backfield and they finished near the bottom of the league in that category last year. In case you don’t know much about him, Christian McCaffrey is pretty good at catching things and running with them. Specifically, footballs.
Despite this, he showed inefficiencies running the ball last year and with a banged up offensive line the panthers may need to rely on Cam to move the ball down field with his arm to find success.
The news that Zach Martin should play is positive news for both Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott. He is the rock to one of the league’s best O-Lines and their flaws showed last year. Non-playoff teams are undervalued in the opening week when they go on the road to face a playoff team. I believe the Cowboys line is generous and they are the better team.
Expect the Cowboys to rely on the run, spread their receivers around the field, and put Zeke in positions to move the chains. The Cowboys style is a ground and pound and they like to control tempo and run the clock. They wear defenses down and Carolina will run out of gas.
My pick: COWBOYS +3 and I don’t mind a Money Line Bet
Profitable NFL Strategies
The NFL is the most popular league to bet on. To put this into perspective, the Falcons/Eagles game received 51k+ bets just from offshore sportsbooks. This is a single game. Unheard of. Meanwhile, an MLB game rarely exceeds 10k in betting volume. Understanding value and building a strategy takes time but it all begins with one simple principle. Become a contrarian.
Fading the public
This is exactly how it sounds, when all the bets are on one side, you bet the other side.
I wish it were that simple to win though. We’d make millions. The number one mistake bettors make is they bet subjectively and think about the previous game. The way a team played 7 days ago has zero correlation to how they will play today. It’s irrelevant but often it is the number one thing bettors let influence their decisions.
Fading the public requires a short term memory because finding value often relies on taking advantage of the public’s perception of a team. When the public views a team poorly, the spread will dictate their move.
A week 1 fade the public situation would be the Raiders vs the Rams or the Bills vs the Ravens. Both the Bills and Raiders look like a complete mess and the public judges based off of what they saw recently.
A perfect example of this was last night’s game. Nick Foles couldn’t tie his shoes in the preseason and bettors couldn’t help but jump all over the Falcons, forgetting the elite level the Eagles defense performs at and the inability of Matt Ryan to convert in the red zone. Eagles bettors rejoiced and the public had a sour opening night.
Fading the public is not a fool proof system though. The key is the not bet based on recency bias. Sharp action dictates the market and large bettors move the lines so finding value often requires betting early in the week before the sharps can shift the lines.
Extra Prop Bets
Future bets are nice little bets to make, forget about for 16 weeks, and hopefully receive a nice payday at the end of the season. Here are couple future bets I am high on this preseason.
Bills Win Total
The opening line was at 7 and got bet down to 5.5 so I am a little late to the party. Regardless, the Bills don’t have what it takes this year and I believe they’ll be the worst team in the league. Bet UNDER 5.5 and root against this team every week for a little extra fun this season.
Sam Bradford Interceptions
This one may make some of you raise an eyebrow but here me out. How many games is this guy really going to play? 5 max.
The total is 8 interceptions. It’s not that I don’t think he’s capable of throwing 8 picks, I just don’t think he’ll be on the field long enough to throw that many. He could get hurt on his 8th pass attempt.
Bet the under here and cash your ticket by Week 6 when he’s either on injured reserved or Josh Rosen takes the job over.