We’re all set to get going with the Week 1 odds for NFL this week at Bang the Book, as there are a plethora of games that we are going to be focusing in on that are going to have some huge impacts on the entire season.
Normally speaking, Week 1 of the NFL season produces a lot of close spreads, knowing that there are so many question marks up in the air for so many teams. This year might seem like a bit of an exception, but when you really take a bit of a closer look at what some of the implied lines are, that really isn’t the case.
We’ll start with the three games of the week that are featuring spreads of seven points or greater. The biggest number on the board is 11.5, and surprisingly, it is a road team that is giving that much chalk. The New England Patriots are the big time favorites over the Buffalo Bills, though it is clear that this is an extenuating circumstance that we have never seen before in the NFL. The Bills are expected to be starting QB Jeff Tuel, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Washington State. Tuel is going to become the first man to not get drafted and still start Week 1 of his rookie season in the modern era of the NFL. There’s generally little precedent for having a team give double digits on the road so early in the season, but there has never been a precedent set for a situation like this one in Buffalo either.
Even more interesting? The defending Super Bowl champs are the second biggest underdogs on the board! In fairness to the Baltimore Ravens, they are nine-point pups, which is right around the same spread they were last year in the second round of the playoffs when they made the exact same trip to Mile High to take on the Denver Broncos. Denver was probably by right the better of the two teams on that day, but take nothing away from Baltimore for sure. The Broncos have their eyes set on revenge in this one, and this time around, there isn’t a departing LB Ray Lewis to will this defense to some stops when it is needed, and there will likely be no Hail Maries answered either.
The third and fourth games featuring a point spread of more than 4.5 are the clash between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans and the one between the Indianapolis Colts and the Oakland Raiders. In spite of the fact that most figure the Steelers to be down a bit this year, they are giving the touchdown in this one, generally due to the fact that it is the home opener, a situation in which the men from the Steel City rarely get beaten. Oakland is a wreck in and of itself, and it is anyone’s guess what in the heck the team is doing at the quarterback position, where four men are on the roster and neither QB Matt Flynn nor QB Terrelle Pryor has been named the starter as of Sunday night. Indy went 7-1 last season at home, but its one blunder was its first game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars in what amounted to be Jacksonville’s lone road win of the year. The Colts are giving 9.5.
What we also have this week though, are a heck of a lot of road underdogs that are implied to be greater favorites than what we are seeing out of Denver and Pittsburgh this week. In fact, there are five road favorites, four of which are very square seeming, each of which are giving either three or 3.5 points. Take the implied odds there, and the oddsmakers are telling you that they would be favoring the Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3 @ New York Jets), Houston Texans (-3.5 @ San Diego Chargers), and Seattle Seahawks (-3.5 @ Carolina Panthers) would all be favorites of right around a full touchdown if they played their foes on neutral sites. Seattle probably has the toughest task of those four, knowing that it has the longest road trip of the week flying from Seattle all the way to Charlotte to take on the Panthers. Houston might have the most dangerous game though, playing against a hungry San Diego team that is eager to succeed under first year Head Coach Mike McCoy.
There are a few games however, in which there is an implied point spread of right around zero as well, and these are the really interesting matchups that could change seasons at the blink of an eye for all of the teams involved.
The biggest of the bunch is probably the duel between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the Bayou. It’s interesting to think that New Orleans is the favored of these two teams by a field goal, knowing that they were separated by a whopping six games last season. Still, QB Drew Brees and QB Matt Ryan tend to go back and forth with one another with regularity, and there is little hope of either securing a sweep in this series with the way that these two teams combat each other.
On Sunday Night and Monday Night Football, there are also duels out of the NFC East that are proving just how close the four teams in this division really are with one another. The Dallas Cowboys are giving three at home to the New York Giants, while the Washington Redskins are laying 3.5 against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. The Giants and Cowboys have the more storied history between these two teams, and the games between these two always have the potential of being classics. The Philly/Washington game though, has a lot more intrigue. The Eagles are debuting their brand new offense under Head Coach Chip Kelly, who promises to run an up-tempo style with QB Michael Vick calling the shots. This will also be the first game for QB Robert Griffin III since tearing his ACL against the Seahawks in the postseason last year.
The Cincinnati Bengals and the Chicago Bears are also implied to be de facto equals. The Bears are laying a field goal in the first game in the Head Coach Marc Trestman era, but nothing would be surprising for either of these squads. The Bengals are hoping to get back to the playoffs for the third straight season, and this would be the type of game that could help that out dramatically.
Finally, we have a game that features an actual pick ‘em on Sunday as well. The Cleveland Browns are hosting the Miami Dolphins in a battle of teams that are absolutely much improved from where they were last year. Could this be the type of game where teams are battling for Wild Card slots? It seems a bit farfetched right now, especially for Cleveland, but don’t kid yourself; these two teams can play some ball.
In regards to ‘totals’, we are seeing a lot of big numbers on the board this week after a second straight very high scoring preseason. The oddsmakers only have one game which has been lined under 40, and that’s the clash between the Bucs and Jets (which features a potential lame duck quarterback in QB Josh Freeman and a man making his first career start in QB Geno Smith). Everything else is 41 or higher.
What’s so surprising though, aren’t the games in the low-40s. It’s all of the games that are lined at 48 or higher. There are six games which feature totals of at least 48, including what is clearly one of the highest ‘totals’ that we have ever seen in a Week 1 in NFL history. The Saints and the Falcons are expected to go back and forth with one another time and time again and go score for score, and that’s why the number posted is a whopping 54.
The most intriguing of those high ‘totals’ is the 49 for Buffalo and New England. Not only are the Bills starting an undrafted rookie free agent, but the Pats are breaking in five completely new receiving options in all likelihood, assuming that TE Rob Gronkowski isn’t ready to go after multiple offseason surgeries.
2013 NFL Week 1 Odds – For live odds click here
NFL 2013 – Week 1 Schedule, Betting Lines, Odds, & Totals
|Thursday, September 5, 2013|
|Baltimore at Denver||8:30 PM||NBC||DEN -7.5||49.5|
|Sunday, September 8, 2013|
|New England at Buffalo||1:00 PM||CBS||NE -7||53|
|Cincinnati at Chicago||1:00 PM||CBS||CHI -3.5||45|
|Miami at Cleveland||1:00 PM||CBS||MIA -1||39.5|
|Atlanta at New Orleans||1:00 PM||FOX||NO -2.5||54|
|Tampa Bay at NY Jets||1:00 PM||FOX||TB -1||41.5|
|Tennessee at Pittsburgh||1:00 PM||CBS||PIT -7||43.5|
|Minnesota at Detroit||1:00 PM||FOX||DET -3||47|
|Oakland at Indianapolis||1:00 PM||CBS||IND -7||49|
|Seattle at Carolina||1:00 PM||FOX||SEA -3.5||45.5|
|Kansas City at Jacksonville||1:00 PM||CBS||KC -2.5||39.5|
|Arizona at St. Louis||4:25 PM||FOX||STL -6||40|
|Green Bay at San Francisco||4:25 PM||FOX||SF -5||50.5|
|NY Giants at Dallas||8:30 PM||NBC||DAL -3||49|
|Monday, September 9, 2013|
|Philadelphia at Washington||7:00 PM||ESPN||WAS -5||50.5|
|Houston at San Diego||10:15 PM||ESPN||HOU -3.5||46|
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.