With fewer wagering opportunities than any other team sport, NFL betting places a premium on gamblers to get off to a quick start. That again will be the case when the NFL kicks off another season, Sept. 10.
Cashing the first week not only adds to the bankroll but also eliminates the tendency to "chase" opening week losses in the second week of the season. Operating from both a financial and psychological advantage puts the football betting enthusiast in a stronger position to continue winning.
While it seems plausible that whether a team opens on the road or at home is a random function of schedule-making and that over the course of several seasons the numbers would even out, interestingly, that is not the case. Routinely, the NFL put teams from notoriously cold-weather cities such as Buffalo at home a disproportionate amount of their opening week games, when temperatures are more forgiving.
Does this matter? Yes, it does. In fact, many teams have manipulated these situations to their advantage, a trend that has not escaped savvy NFL bettors. The edge may not be dominant but gamblers understand that any benefit is worth exploiting, especially when more information can enhance that advantage.
We don’t like to brag—OK, maybe a little bit—but here’s what we wrote a year ago at this time:
Since 1980, the Bills have opened at home more than any other team, 22, to just six road games. During that span, Buffalo is 12-9-1 against the spread (ATS) at home and 1-5 ATS on the road. This year, the Bills open at home on Sept. 7 against the Seahawks, a team that is 7-11 ATS in its 18 road openers since 1980. In fact, Seattle is one of the shakiest opening week bets in the NFL, posting an 11-17 record ATS over the past 28 years. The line on this game will be tight and we expect Buffalo to cover it.
So what happened? Buffalo (-1 1/2) crushed Seattle, 34-10, for an easy cover. Nice way to start the year, right?
We also wrote this:
Another interesting opening week matchup has the Super Bowl champion Giants hosting the Redskins in New York, Thursday, Sept. 4. New York is 11-8 ATS in home openers while Washington is just 2-5 ATS on the road the first week of the season. Lay the points and take the Giants to cover this NFC East battle.
The Giants closed as 4 1/2-point favorites, a pointspread they covered when they defeated the Redskins, 16-7.
So let’s see what the scheduling pencil-pushers are offering this season:
The Bills open on the road for just the seventh time in the past three decades but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a worthy play. As strong as the Bills are at home, that’s how weak they are (1-5 ATS) in road openers. So take the Patriots, who are 10-4-2 as a favorite in openers and lay the 10 1/2.
In the case of the Redskins and Giants, we’re hoping for more of the same. Yes, once again, Washington starts the season in New York, this time as a 6 1/2-point underdog. The only difference from a year ago is that the Giants now are 12-8 ATS in home openers while the Redskins are 2-6 ATS on the road the first week of the season. There’s no reason to change. Lay the points and take the Giants.
They didn’t win a game last season and had a losing record against the spread but the Lions could be a solid play on opening day against the Saints. Detroit, which starts as a 13-point underdog, is one of only five teams (Dallas, Kansas City, Miami and San Diego are the others) that has a winning opening week pointspread record in all four wagering categories, home, away, favorite and underdog. The Lions are 7-3 as an underdog and 10-7 ATS on the road. The Saints, meanwhile, are 8-10 ATS in New Orleans openers and 6-7 as first week favorites. Take the points.
Trends don’t always hold up but the above games could be just the right stuff to get you off to a fast and profitable start this NFL betting season.