The 2020 NFL schedule is here and right on cue sports bettors are dissecting the list of games- and Week 1 lines — for all 32 teams. The regular season begins on Thursday Sept. 10 with the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs hosting the Texans. Kansas City opens as a 10.5-point favorite with a total of 56.5. It's a rematch of last season's AFC Divisional playoff showdown, which the Chiefs won 51-31 after trailing 24-0 in the second quarter.
Here are the rest of the Week 1 opening lines (via the Westgate SuperBook):
Dolphins at Patriots -6.5, OU 44
Browns at Ravens -8.5, OU 49
Jets at Bills -5.5, OU 40.5
Raiders at Panthers PK, OU 46.5
Seahawks -1 at Falcons, OU 49
Eagles -6 at Redskins, OU 45.5
Bears at Lions -1.5, OU 44.5
Colts -8.5 at Jags, OU 47
Packers at Vikings -3.5, OU 47
Chargers -3.5 at Bengals, OU 46
Cardinals at 49ers -8, OU 45
Bucs at Saints -4.5, OU 49.5
Cowboys -3 at Rams, OU 50
Steelers -3.5 at Giants, OU 48.5
Titans at Broncos -3, OU 42
Week 1 provides several profitable edges that bettors should be aware of. According to Bet Labs Sports, Week 1 divisional underdogs have gone 51-32 ATS (61.4%) since 2003. This is due to the built in familiarity between divisional opponents, which levels the playing field and benefits the team getting points. Big Week 1 dogs getting 6.5 points or more have also been a smart bet, going 38-22 ATS (63.3%).
Another profitable opportunity in Week 1 is backing teams that missed the playoffs the previous year against teams that made the playoffs. They've gone 59-46 ATS (56.2%). This is the ultimate buy-low value play because you're capitalizing on recency bias. The public will be inclined to blindly back teams who made the playoffs because that's the last thing they remember from the previous year. In turn, they'll blindly fade non-playoff teams. This creates a contrarian spot where you're taking advantage of shaded numbers.
Aside from studying the Week 1 lines, another key aspect of the 2020 schedule is focusing on bye weeks and Thursday Night Football matchups. These unique scheduling spots have provided a significant edge to bettors in the past.
NFL teams coming off a bye are 254-228 ATS (52.7%) since 2003. However, we see a massive difference between underdogs and favorites. Dogs are just 105-125 ATS (45.7%). However, favorites are an impressive 148-103 ATS (59%). Road favorites are even better, going 62-28 ATS (68.9%). This is likely due to the fact that the betting public overvalues home field advantage, providing road favorites an increased contrarian edge.
Why are favorites off a bye so profitable? Because the extra week off disproportionally benefits the "better" team. Not only do they have more time to rest and rehab injuries but the coaching staff has two weeks to game-plan for the next opponent.
Bye weeks start in Week 5 and run through Week 13. Here are the bye weeks for all 32 teams.
Week 5: Lions, Packers
Week 6: Raiders, Patriots, Saints, Seahawks
Week 7: Colts, Jaguars, Vikings, Titans
Week 8: Cardinals, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, Steelers, Redskins
Week 9: Bengals, Browns, Rams, Eagles
Week 10: Falcons, Cowboys, Chiefs, Chargers
Week 11: Bills, Bears, Dolphins, Giants, Jets, 49ers
Week 12: No bye teams
Week 13: Panthers, Bucs
After bye weeks, the next scheduling spot to look out for is Thursday Night Football. The short week provides another pronounced edge bettors should be aware of. Since 2003, Thursday Night favorites have gone 113-83 ATS (57.7%). Home favorites are even better (73-50 ATS, 59.3%). Just as the extra time off benefits the "better" team, so does the short week. With both teams on a quick turnaround, the team with better players and a superior coaching staff has the advantage, especially if they're at home at don't have to travel.
Here's the complete list of Thursday Night games this season
Week 2: Bengals at Browns
Week 3: Dolphins at Jaguars
Week 4: Broncos at Jets
Week 5: Bucs at Bears
Week 6: Chiefs at Bills
Week 7: Giants at Eagles
Week 8: Falcons at Panthers
Week 9: Packers at 49ers
Week 10: Colts at Titans
Week 11: Cardinals at Seahawks
Week 13: Cowboys at Ravens
Week 14: Patriots at Rams
Week 15: Chargers at Raiders
Week 12 is Thanksgiving. The three games on Turkey Day include Texans at Lions (12:30 p.m. ET), Redskins at Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET) and Ravens at Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET).
Historically, favorites have crushed it on Thanksgiving. Since 2003, they've gone 31-13 ATS (70.5%).