All 32 NFL teams are in action this week after the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys kicked off the 2021 preseason last Thursday in Canton. In this piece, I’ll run through all of the Week 1 games, where we opened the line and total and where the money has come in so far.
I’ll list games in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules and easily monitor new developments between now and kickoff. Point spreads and totals you see in parenthesis were my posted numbers at the South Point when writing.
Thursday August 12
Washington (-2, 36) at New England
We opened Washington -2 two weeks ago and haven’t moved. Reports say Washington will be focused on quarterback play, with Ryan Fitzpatrick getting time to execute the offense. I don’t necessarily trust what coaches say in the preseason, but I do trust the sharps! Wiseguys haven’t been betting the Patriots, even as a home ‘dog. They did bet the Over from my opener of 32 all the way up to 36. Essentially, smart money bet on the Washington QBs with the Over rather than laying two points on the road.
Pittsburgh (PK, 35) at Philadelphia
Opened Eagles -1. Our first bet was on the Eagles, so we went to 1.5. Since then, it’s been all Steelers. Though Ben Roethlisberger won’t play, all three remaining Steelers quarterbacks (Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins, Josh Dobbs) have played in the NFL, and all three got the chance to dust off some rustiness last week. Looks like sharps will take any points they can get with the Steelers, but stopped betting at pick-em. The total opened 33.5, and was bet up to 35.
Friday August 13
Tennessee (PK, 38) at Atlanta
Titans were -1 on the opener. We took one play of significance on the ‘dog from a respected bettor, which was enough for me to drop to pick-em. Total opened 38 and hasn’t moved. Sharps who like Overs bet early (in advance of the over-loving public). Sharps who like Unders usually wait to see if they might see something better. I expect we’d see sharp Under play at 38.5 or higher and maybe at 38 just before kickoff, if that’s as high as it goes.
Buffalo at Detroit (-1, 37)
This one moved significantly. I opened Buffalo -2, but the favorite has flipped after a lot of play on Detroit. Many preseason bettors like to take rookie head coaches who may be trying to establish winning cultures. Detroit’s Dan Campbell is in that category. Total rose from 36.5 to 37 even though Josh Allen won’t play for Buffalo. Might take 37.5 or 38 to bring in buy back on the Under.
Dallas at Arizona (-1.5, 39.5)
Two-way action here. We opened the Cards -2. First bet was on Dallas + 2. I moved the line a point down to Arizona -1, and we got bet back on the Cards. Pretty decent business, as both teams have followings in Nevada. A sharp bet Under my opening total of 40. I dropped to 39.5 off that one bet. If a sharp is betting an Under that early, I was probably a bit too high.
Saturday August 14
Miami at Chicago (-3.5, 35)
There’s been a lot of press about the quarterback battle in Chicago. Action inspired by those headlines drove my openers of -3 and 33 up to -3.5 and 35. I moved based on business, not newspapers. (Remember, I trust sharps more than I trust head coaches).
Denver (-2.5, 34.5) at Minnesota
It’s been all Broncos in this one. Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater are supposed to see meaningful action for Denver. I opened the Vikings -1.5. As I write this, we haven’t taken a single straight bet on Minnesota. That’s much more likely to happen if we move to three. The total is up from 34 to 34.5.
New Orleans at Baltimore (-2.5, 36)
Good two-way action here. We opened Baltimore -2.5. They bet the Ravens, so I went to three, and that’s when Saints money started coming in. Looks like one of those 2.5/3 games where different groups bet their preferred line when it’s available. We in the sportsbook just have to hope the game doesn’t land exactly on the three. Total was bet up from 35.5 to 36. Under fans are waiting to see if it nudges any higher. Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh has a great preseason history straight up and against the spread (15-1-1 ATS in his last 17). Looks like that’s only good enough to get this apex to three.
Cleveland at Jacksonville (-2, 37)
This one moved a ton. We opened the Browns -4. It’s been all Jacksonville. Jacksonville’s new head coach is college legend Urban Meyer. This reminds me a bit of when Jimmy Johnson went from the University of Miami to the Dallas Cowboys. Johnson was great in the preseason, but then went 1-15 in the regular season. Jacksonville will probably struggle when the games start to matter. Cleveland has nothing to prove this week.
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay (-6, 34)
Hardly any business at all. Spread hasn’t moved from my opener of six. Total is up from 33 to 34. There was no motivation for sharps to bet this ‘dog when early news reports out of Cincy’s camp suggested Joe Burrow was struggling. And, they rarely lay preseason lines this high with any favorite.
NY Jets (-1, 35) vs. NY Giants
Neutral site. We flipped favorites from the opener of Giants -1.5. It doesn’t take much action to move lines around zero, so don’t read too much into that adjustment. The total rose from 34.5 to 35.
Houston at Green Bay (-3, 33.5)
Haven’t moved our numbers. No interest yet on either the side or the total, though we did have a money-line bet on the Texans at + 135 to win the game outright, which might signal weekend interest on the ‘dog. Getting three full points in a game with such a low total may draw in some value bettors before kickoff.
Kansas City at San Francisco (-2.5, 38)
New 49ers quarterback Trey Lance out of North Dakota State has been earning raves at early practices. Those media stories helped drive openers of -1.5 and 36.5 up to current prices. Patrick Mahomes isn’t expected to play. Maybe the hosts will have a little extra motivation from their Super Bowl loss two seasons ago. San Francisco’s been attracting money so far.
Seattle at Las Vegas (-2.5, 37.5)
Public money from locals drove the opener from Raiders -1.5 up to -2.5. Sharps preferring the dog will see what they can get before committing. Total hasn’t moved. That by itself suggests sharp Under money before kickoff (particularly if 38 goes on the board).
LA Chargers (-4, 34) vs. LA Rams
Another neutral site game. Money has all been on the Chargers. We opened -2 and it’s been bet through the key number of three (less important in the preseason, but still a landmark number for sharps) all the way to Chargers -4. They even bet me on the money line at -150 and -180. I’ve got it Chargers -200 now. Another new head coach here, with Brandon Staley taking over on the sidelines for the Chargers. New Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford won’t take a snap in the preseason. Backup John Wolford will also miss the preseason after an appendectomy. It might take + 4.5 or + 5 to bring in dog money here.
Sunday August 15
Carolina at Indianapolis (-1.5, 34.5)
Not much interest early in the week for the last game on the card. We opened Colts -1 and a total of 34. I took one respected bet on the host, and one on the Over, lifting those to -1.5/34.5. I’ll let you know over the weekend on twitter (@andrewssports) if sharps make any sort of late move.
It’s great to have a full slate of NFL action! Best of luck on your bets. See you next week.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.