NFL Betting – Lessons from Week 1

Talking points and hot-takes make for good banter but don’t help you win bets. An analysis of fantasy players is counterproductive to good gambling because football is won in areas beyond skill positions. One week of NFL football is in the books. What did we learn that will help you improve your ROI?


Week 1 Betting Lessons

The AFC West is Strong

Denver looked very good on Thursday against a quality Panthers team. Quarterback Trevor Siemian seems capable of being a place holder. Peyton Manning was not consistently productive last year, and instead of taking up too much of the salary cap with unproven Brock Osweiler, the Broncos decided to build the rest of their roster.

While the story out of Kansas City was the Chiefs comeback win over San Diego, the Chargers’ offensive line looked healthy and capable. Mike McCoy had back-to-back nine-win seasons before injuries crippled San Diego last year. It is disappointing to lose, and the injury to Keenan Allen is big, but both teams showed positive signs that they can contend.

Meanwhile, the Raiders won a thriller in New Orleans. Nobody would suggest the Saints are title contenders, but road wins in hostile environments have been few and far between for Oakland over the last decade. The Raiders have a good young core, and might be an over machine. The defense was leaky, much like it was for the first month of last season.

The AFC South Still Stinks

Every year we hear about how Jacksonville is on the rise, Houston has a great defense, Indianapolis is finally ready to make the leap, and Tennessee is improved. Mostly, those narratives just mask the fact somebody has to make the playoffs out of this group. The Jags and Texans were the relative positives for the division in Week 1. Key word: relative.

Jacksonville lost at home against Green Bay, but played competitively. That’s not good enough. The Jags couldn’t run the ball, committed nine penalties, and squandered opportunities to win, including going one-for-three in the redzone. Good teams finish games.

Houston was the only team in the division to win, and pitching a second half shutout against Chicago is great. Osweiler was solid in his Texans debut, and Lamar Miller looked good in the ground game. Linebacker Brian Cushing was injured, though, and beating the Bears is precisely what Houston was supposed to do. They won’t dominate time of possession or go 12-for-20 on third-down in every game.

Meanwhile, Andrew Luck was spectacular and the offensive line surprisingly solid, but the rest of the Colts were bad they lost at home to Detroit. Losing to the Lions at home is ugly. Last season Detroit was the worst rushing team in the league, on Sunday they sprinted for 87 yards in the first half. Indy suffered more injuries to an already depleted secondary, and it feels like they are going to give up a ton of points this year.

As for the Titans, the defense was very good, particularly stopping Viking running back Adrian Peterson, but the offense seemed lost. Marcus Mariota may make the leap at some point, but he was overwhelmed in Week 1 and the running game was poor after a good preseason. If Minnesota was better than zero-for-three in the redzone, the final score may have been lopsided. That said, the Titans defense showed real life, and perhaps they can grind out some low scoring victories.

The AFC South division winner may be the first to eight victories and betting against these teams when they aren’t facing each other seems advisable.

Road Warriors

When it comes to spreads, generally home teams get an automatic three points and the number goes up/down from there depending on the matchup. During Week 1, road teams won nine games outright and were 9-5-2 against the spread. It is entirely possible this is a one week trend. However, with parity comes tight games, and the more enormous stadiums geared towards corporate clients (I’m looking at you Jerry Jones) mean less fan-noise. Be alert for angry fan bases that don’t show up if a team plays poorly, and venues that see road teams get more support (see San Diego).


Photo credit: NFL News Desk Admin (Flickr) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode.

One response to “NFL Betting – Lessons from Week 1

  1. Very useful article. There is much to think about. For me stressed that it is better to put on a team that plays at home in view of additional points.

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