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NFL Schedule Day Takeaways and Week 1 Betting Tips

May 13, 2021 12:53 AM

Yesterday was "Schedule Day" in the NFL, with the league officially unveiling the full 17-game schedule for all 32 teams. The 2021-2022 regular season will kickoff on Thursday, September 9th when the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys (8:20 p.m. ET).

Here is a full list of the newly released Week 1 odds at BetMGM

Cowboys at Bucs (-6.5)

Eagles at Falcons (-3.5)

Steelers at Bills (-6.5)

Jets at Panthers (-4)

Vikings (-3) at Bengals

49ers (-7.5) at Lions

Jags (-2.5) at Texas

Seahawks at Colts (-2.5)

Cardinals at Titans (-2.5)

Chargers (-1) at Washington

Browns at Chiefs (-6)

Dolphins at Patriots (-2)

Broncos (-1.5) at Giants

Bears at Rams (-7)

Ravens (-4.5) at Raiders

The last remaining Week 1 game, Packers at Saints. is off the board due to the uncertainty surrounding Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

Early Week 1 Moves

Jags -1.5 to -2.5 at Texans

Chargers + 1 to -1 at Washington

Raiders + 5.5 to + 4.5 vs Ravens

Sportsbooks also released an early line for the most hotly anticipated regular season matchup in recent memory: Tom Brady's return to New England. The Bucs will face the Patriots in Week 4 on Sunday Night Football (Oct. 3). The Bucs have opened as a 3.5-point road favorite for Brady vs Belichick Round 1. 

With all of these attractive and fresh lines in front of us, it's hard not to want to bet several Week 1 games right now. But it might be a better idea to wait. First off, you would be tying up your bankroll for four months. So you would need to have both patience and the liquidity to place a futures style bet. But also, there are several unknowns this far out. What if a star player gets hurt in training camp? What if a team pulls off a huge trade? What if a key player retires? Also, as a contrarian bettor, a smart play would be to let these lines ruminate for over the next few months. Let the bets build up and allow public narratives to take shape, then go against those prevailing biases. 

If you're looking to place a Week 1 bet anyway, here are a few tips to keep in mind

Week 1 Dogs: Over the last decade, Week 1 dogs have gone 92-79 ATS (54%). Big Week 1 dogs + 6.5 or more have gone 28-18 ATS (61%). The top Week 1 system play has been divisional dogs: 43-20 ATS (68.3%). Dogs have crushed Week 1 for several reasons: the public loves favorites so dogs are naturally undervalued, also dogs are healthy and optimistic and opening day variance can lead to upset opportunities. 

Key Numbers: If you are eyeing a Week 1 game, be conscious of key numbers. Ask yourself "Am I on or off a key number?" before placing your bet. For example, if you like the Vikings at the Bengals, shop around and try to find a -2.5 instead of a -3. That way a three-point Minnesota win covers instead of pushes. If you like the Steelers keeping it close against the Bills, look for a + 7 instead of + 6.5. We line in the age of sports betting legalization with so many different shops to bet at. Put in the work to place your bet at the book that gives you the best number. It could end up being the difference between a win, loss and push.

Buy Low Opportunities: One key for betting Week 1 is buying on bad news and selling on good news. For example, the public will be betting Week 1 based on what they remember of each team from the previous season. However, we've seen that this can lead to the overvaluing of teams. One system I love is taking teams that missed the playoffs the previous season against teams that made the playoffs: they've covered at a 55% clip over the past decade. 

Inflated Lines: If you're looking for a fun and easy exercise, grab yourself a piece of paper and a pen. Write down all of the Week 1 lines as they stand today and then see how they progress over the next few months. This will provide more context into where the respected money is going and also allow you to identify inflated line opportunities. For example, the Bucs are currently -6.5 against the Cowboys on Opening Night. If the public absolutely hammers the Bucs over the next four months and the line reaches -7.5, that would provide a contrarian inflated line opportunity to back Cowboys + 7.5. Just by going against the grain and doing some homework, you took advantage of a full-point of inflated line value. 

Now onto Thursday, where we have a loaded betting menu to choose from, including 12 MLB games, 9 NBA games and 3 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of Thursday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 1 p.m. ET. I'll be joining The Lombardi Line with Michael Lombardi and Patrick Meagher at 1:45 p.m. ET to offer a market update. 

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