The opening week of the NFL season is always chock full of big performances, surprise results and other generally overblown storylines. This year’s Week 1 action was unusual in so many ways, both leading up to the games and in the games themselves. But from a betting perspective, the lack of fans and preseason game preparation should not sway us from the fact that teams tend to react and progress similarly from their Week 1 results year after year. I like to quantify these reactions through betting systems, and I’ll detail 10 such systems that are designed to help bettors turn what they saw in Week 1 into profits in Week 2.
As usual, we saw some stunning upsets, most notably the divisional wins by Jacksonville and Washington. Hopefully you caught the systems I disclosed for Week 1 indicating that both underdogs were worthy of moneyline bets. There were also some very close games and some lofty scoring totals. These traits and several others form the foundation for the systems I am about to share.
Why might these angles be consistently successful? First, the NFL is a huge momentum league. With only one game every week, each team has a lot of time to stew over a loss or bask in a victory. During this time, losing teams may start to doubt themselves, or winning teams may be thinking too highly of their own games. The betting public and media sensationalize this type of thinking, theorizing that what they just saw in Week 1 is the new standard. Bookmakers are thus placed in a precarious position of having to juggle what just happened with what should happen in the next week along with what the public thinks will happen. It is a fine balancing act.
The systems herein come as a result of two things: bookmakers not wanting to overadjust, and bookmakers trying to balance their sides against new public sentiment. Overadjusting seems to be getting more common in college football. But in the pros, with all the money wagered each week, they realize they can’t radically adjust lines in such a short window simply because of one game result. They are forced to wait out the first few weeks in hopes that everything balances out. Because of this “oddsmaker patience,” I believe that these one-week transitional systems are valid only this early in the season. So let’s take a look — and then, of course, take advantage.
Here are 10 angles, each with a winning percentage of at least 59.4%.
1. Week 2 teams playing as favorites or underdogs of fewer than three points against opponents that scored more than 30 points the previous week are 40-12 SU and 35-14-3 ATS (71.4%) since 2003 (+ 19.5 units, ROI 39.8%, Grade 70)
2020 plays: INDIANAPOLIS, NEW ORLEANS
Analysis: It seems that these 30-point teams may have overachieved in Week 1 and are naturally due for letdowns or overinflated lines in Week 2. A very high total of seven teams topped the 30-point mark last weekend. But only two qualify for the system as of now.
2. Teams that lost on the point spread by 15 or more points in Week 1 divisional games are 10-4 SU and 11-2-1 ATS (84.6%) in Week 2 since 2007 (+ 8.8 units, ROI 67.6%, Grade 65)
2020 plays: CLEVELAND, PHILADELPHIA
Analysis: Second-week point-spread adjustments tend to go against teams that were blown out by divisional opponents in Week 1 and in most cases are overadjustments. For 2020, we have two qualifiers as the Browns and Eagles were big divisional game outright and point-spread losers.
3. Week 1 favorites of six points or more that lost their games have bounced back with a record of 15-4 SU and ATS (78.9%) in Week 2 since 2002 (+ 10.6 units, ROI 55.8%, Grade 70)
2020 plays: SAN FRANCISCO, INDIANAPOLIS
Analysis: Teams favored by six points or more in Week 1 are typically well-respected clubs, and they tend to bounce back when aided by a sense of urgency. In 2019, Cleveland went into Week 1 much overhyped and lost big to the Titans. The Browns responded with a 23-3 win over the Jets in Week 2. This year the 49ers and Colts need to rebound quickly. This system is on a 5-1 SU and ATS surge.
4. Teams playing their second straight divisional games in Week 2 are an impressive 30-11-1 SU and 29-12-1 ATS (70.7%) since 2003 (+ 15.8 units, ROI 38.6%, Grade 65)
2020 plays: CLEVELAND, TAMPA BAY, JACKSONVILLE
Analysis: Divisional games typically require greater focus and intensity, and these teams are well prepared the second time around. In 2020, three games qualified on this system, and in two others, both teams qualified, canceling each other out.
5. Teams that won close games in Week 1, by three points or fewer, are 30-15-1 Under (66.7%) the total in Week 2 since 2005 (+ 13.5 units, ROI 30%, Grade 65)
2020 plays: UNDER in L.A. RAIDERS-PHILADELPHIA, JACKSONVILLE-TENNESSEE, KANSAS CITY-L.A. CHARGERS
Analysis: This one is genuinely tough to explain — but its success is hard to argue. A strong 14-6 record over the last five seasons has bumped up this system recently. Interestingly, two of the qualifying games could feature road favorites, and in many cases like that, the home underdog offense gets thwarted.
6. Teams playing as underdogs in their second of back-to-back divisional games are 15-10-1 SU and 18-8 ATS (69.2%) in Week 2 since 2004 (+ 9.2 units, ROI 35.4%, Grade 62)
2020 plays: JACKSONVILLE
Analysis: This is basically the same as No. 5 but adding a line qualifier. The motivation of being an underdog to a divisional opponent provides the needed incentive for these Week 2 dogs to pull the upset. This has been an outstanding moneyline system over the years, hitting at 60% on outright winners, so don’t ignore that betting option. Jacksonville was impressive last week in beating Indianapolis and will look to take early control of the AFC South by knocking off another expected front-runner in Tennessee.
7. Teams that lost as road favorites in Week 1 have bounced back with a record of 13-7 SU and 15-5 ATS (75%) in Week 2 over the last eight seasons (+ 9.5 units, ROI 47.5%, Grade 62)
2020 plays: PHILADELPHIA, INDIANAPOLIS
Analysis: Week 1 road favorites are usually highly regarded teams. They have proven good enough to be able to bounce back from losses in those games, in most cases avoiding 0-2 starts. Last year Denver qualified on this system and didn’t win outright but did win ATS versus Chicago. This year there are two qualifiers, including the Colts, who have been spotted in three of the first seven Week 2 systems.
8. Teams facing opponents that allowed 38 or more points in Week 1 are 20-13 SU and 19-13-1 ATS (59.4%) coming back in Week 2 since 2002 (+ 4.7 units, ROI 14.7%, Grade 52)
2020 plays: CINCINNATI, INDIANAPOLIS, DALLAS
Analysis: Playing against teams that came up bad defensively in Week 1 is a good idea. In many cases, the ground has already been laid for these being bet-against teams for the season. Cleveland, Minnesota, and Atlanta yielded the most points in Week 1.
9. Teams whose opponents played in the weeknight season-opening game and thus have extra rest are 12-18 SU but 18-11-1 ATS (62.1%) in Week 2 since 2005 (+ 5.9 units, ROI 20.3%, Grade 52)
2020 plays: L.A. CHARGERS, BALTIMORE
Analysis: Routine, routine, routine. Teams that play in the season opener are out of that typical routine, and most teams rely on that for peak performance throughout the season. Extra rest is typically valued more later in the season. This is a tough system to stomach, since it requires fading two of the better teams in the league.
10. Teams that recorded big Week 1 divisional wins by seven points or more are 21-13 SU and 20-12-2 ATS (62.4%) since 2006 in Week 2 (+ 6.8 units, ROI 21.2%, Grade 52)
2020 plays: BUFFALO, GREEN BAY, JACKSONVILLE, WASHINGTON, BALTIMORE, NEW ENGLAND, NEW ORLEANS
Analysis: Momentum created by a big divisional win in Week 1 seems to carry over well into Week 2. This system is 4-1 SU and ATS over the last two seasons. An unusually high number of teams, seven, qualify this year after seeing just 34 over the last 14 seasons.