TOP NFL WEEK 1 HISTORICAL SYSTEMS/ QUALIFYING GAMES

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Another NFL season is upon us, and although the lines & totals for Week 1 of the 2019 campaign have been out and dissected for months, it is probably only now that most of you are starting to dig into the opening week options. As is the norm, there was plenty that happened in the offseason to alter the perceptions that we had at the close of last year. In fact, with big name players like Le’Veon Bell, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown having moved on to new teams, perhaps the magnitude of changes is even greater than usual. Does that mean oddsmakers have it pegged? Not exactly! Even the experts make mistakes or overlook things. They don’t know everything, and they certainly can’t accurately quantify the Week 1 chemistry of the teams, how they’ve changed in personnel, the attitude adjustments since last year, etc.

Remember, the bookies’ theoretical job is to try and get as much even action on the various wagering options in a game, not so much to pick the game. Naturally, there can be weak spots then, and savvy bettors who are prepared with both knowledge of the teams and a powerful weapon like systems can be ready to take advantage.

The start of this NFL season is always met with much anticipation. Remember though, unless you are really prepared, and have analyzed all of the current information available to you, don’t get too overzealous and risk an unhealthy percentage of your bankroll on a given week or game. If you haven’t pored through the preseason publications or the previews by popular websites, you need to do that before Thursday, or at least by Sunday. Not only have some coaches and players come and gone, some teams have changed schemes, and in general, EVERY one of the 32 teams boasts fresh optimism. They all share the same dream…reaching the postseason.

Many people refer to the acronym NFL as “Not For Long,” as because of injuries, salary cap restrictions and free agency, and as a result, there is more turnover in level of teams than in any other sport from season to season. Bookmakers have an advantage when it comes to this, since the media tends to drive the public thinking. This is just a cautionary message urging you to consider if there are enough valid reasons to lay double-digits, or back a heavy favorite that enjoyed an unusually good season a year ago. Along that same line of thinking, isn’t it reasonable to think that there is no way teams like the Raiders, 49ers or Cardinals will be as dismal as in 2019? Or how about the opposite, can New Orleans, Kansas City, or either of the Los Angeles teams be counted on to reach the same heights as a year ago?

As I usually do for this frst week of the NFL season, I like to pore over recent opening-week action in the NFL to determine if we can gain an edge on the books by picking apart the early thoughts of oddsmakers through the use of betting systems. As you’ll see below, there have been some signifcant systems that have developed in recent opening-week action in the NFL, 21 of them for the purposes of this article.

All of them have at least a 60.5% ATS winning percentage over their lifetime. In each case I’ve tried to provide a reasonable explanation as to why, as well as the games that will qualify this coming weekend. Please note: These systems are sorted by my own personal grading system that factors in net units above zero, winning percentage, R.O.I., and likelihood of the angle occurring again in 2019. Note also, lines used were as of Saturday 8/31/19 and may differ slightly at the time of wagering, thus altering the qualifcation of games in that system.

All stats and records noted are based strictly on regularseason games of the prior season.

1. Week 1 non-divisional conference games featuring a road favorite and a total greater than 41 are 24-4 UNDER (85.7%) the total since ‘99 (Win: 19.6 units, R.O.I.: 70%, Grade: 80)

2019 Potential Plays: Play UNDER the total in KCJAC, LAR-CAR, DET-ARI

Analysis: Considering that the home teams in this particular system have scored just 14.2 PPG in the 28 contests, it would seem that these teams are home dogs for a good reason…they can’t score. The result is obvious, UNDER’s. Last year there was no play on this system as the Tennessee-Miami game closed with a pick em’ line. Fortunately, we have three opportunities in 2019.

2. Week 1 home favorites that had a worse record than their opponent the previous season are 33-13-5 ATS (71.7%) since ‘00 (Win: 18.7 units, R.O.I.: 40.6%, Grade 75) 2019 Potential Plays: Play on NY Jets, Cleveland, Oakland

Analysis: This system has provided longevity but was 0-2 a year ago, so perhaps the tide is turning. Three more plays are on tap for 2019 as this is a nice transitional system showing that oddsmakers mostly get it right many times in analyzing teams’ changes in the offseason. Ironically, all three teams on this year’s list are pegged by experts as among those having a chance for big improvement.

3. Week 1 games with totals of less than 48 points and featuring home teams that won at least 11 games against the spread the prior regular season are 16-2 OVER (88.9%) the total since ‘02 (Win: 13.8 units, R.O.I.: 76.7%, Grade: 75)

2019 Potential Plays: Play OVER the total in GB-CHI Analysis: Teams that cover the spread in that many games are typically explosive teams that are riding positive momentum into their season openers. Unfortunately, only one team won 11 or more games ATS in the regular season last year, and that was Chicago. The Bears host Green Bay in the season opener on Thursday night.

4. Opening-week road teams that won between 4 & 6 games the prior season are 40-16-4 ATS (71.4%) since ‘04 (Win: 21.4 units, R.O.I.: 38.2%, Grade 70)

2019 Potential Plays: Play on Green Bay, Buffalo, San Francisco, Detroit, Cincinnati, NY Giants Analysis: Teams in the 4-6 win range usually qualify as potential bounce-back teams the following season, with the start of the new season offering fresh motivation and momentum. In many cases it was bad luck or injuries that derailed their hopes the prior season. There are six qualifying teams for this angle in 2019.

5. Opening-week home favorites hosting teams that were above .500 the prior season are 42-17-5 ATS (71.2%) since ‘00 (Win: 23.3 units, R.O.I.: 39.5%, Grade 70)

2019 Potential Plays: Play on Cleveland, LA Chargers, New England, New Orleans Analysis: Home favorites hosting a quality opponent are likely a very strong team themselves, and opening the season provides extra motivation. Last year’s four qualifying teams were 2-1-1 ATS, and for 2019, another four plays are on tap.

6. Opening-week road underdogs of more than 3 points that won between 4 & 6 games the prior season are 30-11-2 ATS (73.2%) since ‘04 (Win: 17.9 units, R.O.I.: 43.7%, Grade 70)

2019 Potential Plays: Play on Cincinnati, NY Giants Analysis: This system has steadily elevated itself to #6 on our list by consistently hitting around 75% for the L6 seasons. Remember, every team’s slate is wiped clean and each season offers fresh optimism. Teams that won 4, 5 or 6 games the prior season probably endured a lot of bad luck too. There are only two games on this system for 2019, but Green Bay and Buffalo were exactly 3-point dogs as of press time and would qualify should the lines move above that number.

7. Opening-week games with road favorites of 3 points or more are 49-23-3 UNDER (68.1%) the total since ‘00 (Win: 23.7 units, R.O.I.: 32.9%, Grade 70)

2019 Potential Plays: Play UNDER the total in BALMIA, KC-JAC Analysis: In most cases, teams become road favorites in Week 1 because the host team can’t or isn’t expected to score points, either because they are woeful offensively, or because the favored defense is a dominant unit.

8. Week 1 divisional road teams that won 6 or fewer games the prior season are 24-8-1 ATS (75%) since ‘01 (Win: 14.2 units, R.O.I.: 44.4%, Grade 65)

2019 Potential Plays: Play on Green Bay, Buffalo, NY Giants, Denver Analysis: This system is on at least a 10-1-1 streak, with six outright upsets to show for it. Last year, the Buccaneers rolled to a 48-40 upset of New Orleans, and Chicago lost but covered at Green Bay. Ironically, those two teams swap places for the 2019 opener.

9. Divisional home underdogs are 12-6-1 SU & 15-4 ATS (78.9%) in Week 1 since ‘09 (Win: 10.6 units, R.O.I.: 58.9%, Grade 65)

2019 Potential Plays: NONE Analysis: There isn’t a whole lot more motivating than an opening-week contest at home against a targeted team in the division. In most cases, the road favorite in this scenario is a returning playoff team, while the home dog is an aspiring one. As you can see, over the last 10 years, the aspiring team has enjoyed plenty of success and a great start to the season. The Browns qualifed on this last year and took Pittsburgh to an overtime tie. Unfortunately it looks like the only way we get a play this year is if Oakland ends up a home dog to the Broncos on MNF.

10. Week 1 games with totals greater than 44 and featuring home teams that allowed more than 21 PPG the prior season are 49- 27 UNDER (64.5%) the total since ‘01 (Win: 19.3 units, R.O.I.: 25.4%, Grade 65)

2019 Potential Plays: Play UNDER the total in ATLMIN, WAS-PHI, SF-TB, TEN-CLE, LAR-CAR, DET-ARI, HOU-NO Analysis: It seems oddsmakers often are able to accurately identify the host teams that may be improved defensively from one season to the next. For 2019, we have seven games where host teams that allowed 21 PPG are expected to go UNDER totals of 4 by this system.

11. Week 1 games featuring road teams that scored more than 26 PPG the prior season are 31-14-2 UNDER (68.9%) the total since ‘02 (Win: 13.6 units, R.O.I.: 30.2%, Grade 62)

2019 Potential Plays: Play UNDER the total in KCJAC, LAR-CAR, IND-LAC, PIT-NE Analysis: Oddsmakers tend to infate the totals of returning high scoring offenses. Most often, they are OVER-infated, as just because a team scores well one season doesn’t mean it will the next. For Week 1 of the 2019 season, four of the league’s better offenses from a year ago are on the road. Last year the two games in this system both went UNDER, bumping the grade up from 59 to 62.

12. Week 1 games with road favorites of 3 points or more and total is 43 or more are 26-11-1 UNDER (70.2%) since ‘00 (Win: 13.9 units, R.O.I.: 37.5%, Grade 62)

2019 Potential Plays: Play UNDER the total in KCJAC, LAR-CAR Analysis: Very similar to #7 above, the higher the total, the more chances that these games go UNDER.

13. Bettors are 41-26 (61.1%) when moving opening totals more than two points in Week 1 since ‘04 (Win: 13.5 units, R.O.I.: 20.1%, Grade 62)

2019 Potential Plays: Play Analysis: Week 1 NFL lines are hammered on by bettors for over four months, and they have been good at dissecting totals. Last year, bettors moved seven different games more than 2 points on the total and those games were 3-4. Interestingly, all of the totals plummeted downward. Other than the Colts-Chargers game that was already affected by Andrew Luck’s retirement, you won’t know these plays specifcally until just before kickoff.

14. Home teams have gone 15-1 in the L16 season opener weeknight games, going 10-3-3 ATS (76.9%) (Win: 6.7 units, R.O.I.: 51.5%, Grade 62)

2019 Potential Plays: Play on Chicago Analysis: The tradition of this game pits the defending Super Bowl champion as the home team. Last year, the Eagles started defense of their title with an 18-12 win over Atlanta. The tradition changes this year with Chicago hosting the game, not New England. We’ll see if the change in traditional matchup helps Green Bay reverse this angle.

15. Week 1 games in which the home favorite won at least four more games than the opponent the prior season are 33-20 OVER (62.2%) the total since ‘00 (Win: 11.1 units, R.O.I.: 20.9%, Grade 59)

2019 Potential Plays: Play OVER the total in GB-CHI, CIN-SEA, NYG-DAL Analysis: Host teams in this situation are most often good teams with good offenses or the game is played faster because of the separation and one team playing from far behind. Additionally, being a Week 1 game, both teams are healthy.

16. Week 1 hosts that averaged more than 28.5 PPG the prior season are 14-4 SU & 11- 5-1 ATS (66.7%) since ‘01 (Win: 6.5 units, R.O.I.: 40.6%, Grade 59)

2019 Potential Plays: New Orleans Analysis: Great offenses, starting the season at home. These teams seem to pick up right where they left off. Last year’s qualifers on this system were the defending Super Bowl combatants, Philadelphia & New England, both won & covered their respective point spreads.

17. Double-digit road underdogs are 4-10 SU but 10-4 ATS (71.4%) in Week 1 since ‘00 (Win: 5.6 units, R.O.I.: 40%, Grade 56)

2019 Potential Plays: NONE but potentially Cincinnati Analysis: Laying double-digits this early with any team just doesn’t make sense, as every team starts with a fresh slate and believes it has a shot at the postseason at this point, even the worst underdog. There weren’t any games that reached double-digit point spreads for this weekend as of press time, although the Seahawks are close to being doubledigits against the Bengals, and after the trade for Jadaveon Clowney, I’d be surprised if the line didn’t reach 10. Last year, the Buccaneers scored a huge 48-40 upset win at New Orleans as 10-point dogs.

18. Week 1 games featuring road teams that allowed more than 25.5 PPG the prior season are 26-17 OVER (60.5%) the total since ‘02 (Win: 7.3 units, R.O.I.: 16.9%, Grade 54)

2019 Potential Plays: Play OVER the total in ATLMIN, SF-TB, KC-JAC, CIN-SEA, NYG-DAL Analysis: Defenses that allow that many points typically require a complete overhaul, a diffcult task in the span of six months. Starting the season on the road only heightens the chances of a relapse. Last year there was only one game on this system, this year there are fve.

19. Since ‘06, Week 1 non-conference games with totals of 42.5 or more are 17-9 UNDER (65.4%) (Win: 7.1 units, R.O.I.: 27.3%, Grade 54)

2019 Potential Plays: Play UNDER the total in CINSEA, HOU-NO Analysis: Higher level totals, unfamiliarity in opponent, this has often led to UNDER plays. There are two non-conference games in Week 1 of 2019 as compared to three in 2018. Two of those games last year went UNDER.

20. Week 1 non-divisional conference road favorites are 17-10-1 ATS (62.9%) since ‘99 (Win: 5 units, R.O.I.: 18.5%, Grade 50)

2019 Potential Plays: Play on Baltimore, Kansas City, LA Rams, Detroit Analysis: If you refer back to #1, this same set of circumstances affects the totals. However, if you recall, the host teams in this particular system have scored just 14.2 PPG in the 28 contests. Historically, the home dogs in these games are not good offensive teams. Pretty easy to see why the road favorites have ATS success. Last year there were no qualifers on this system, this year there are four.

21. Non-conference road underdogs of 3 to 6.5 points are 10-6-6 ATS (62.5%) in Week 1 since ‘00 (Win: 3.4 units, R.O.I.: 21.2%, Grade 50)

2019 Potential Plays: NONE – although Houston was 7 at New Orleans as of press time Analysis: Amazingly, six of the L22 games in this system have resulted in a push on the spread, including Seattle at Denver a year ago. It’s hard to beat an unfamiliar foe, particularly when an unfriendly point spread is attached. For 2019, there are only two non-conference matchups, with Houston on the edge of being a qualifer at 7 versus New Orleans.

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