NFL Week 1 Betting Trends: Bettors React to Travis Kelce Injury

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Bettors show quick, midseason form regarding NFL audibles.

They reacted to Travis Kelce’s injury news Tuesday as though they had timed the snap count.

Moments after the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end suffered a hyperextended knee in practice — putting his appearance for Thursday’s season-opening game against the Detroit Lions in doubt — gamblers moved the Week 1 betting line at least a full point.

Late Tuesday, the DraftKings line stood at Kansas City -5.5, down from 6.5 or 7 earlier in the betting. The Over-Under dipped to 53.5. The Detroit moneyline slid from +225 to +200.

All of this and he hadn’t even been ruled out of the game yet.

That was just the first tweak in a betting lineup that has gamblers otherwise hailing the Chiefs, fading the Arizona Cardinals, and expecting little from the Carolina Panthers’ and Atlanta Falcons’ offenses.

Gamblers will eagerly watch the status of Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow in the team’s Battle of Ohio against the Cleveland Browns and they will likely put some late money on Aaron Rodgers in his New York Jets debut Monday night against the Buffalo Bills.

These are just some of the early themes emerging from the DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel sportsbooks.

Gamblers know to scour all the books in the sports-betting landscape to uncover their best price. Here are our NFL Week 1 betting trends.

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Kansas City Chiefs: Tempering the Betting Flame

Before the Kelce news, the Chiefs garnered 74% of the early handle and 66% of the bets by midweek, with the spread bouncing prominently between Kansas City -7 and -6.5.

“What we are going to end up seeing on that game is a lot of betting support for Detroit on the moneyline (+200) and for Kansas City on the spread,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today before the Kelce news broke.

It will be interesting to see how gamblers follow that path after the announcement.

Those who bet the Lions +7 early on love their positioning here.

Four Teams Gamblers Love in Week 1

The Washington Commanders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles received the most midweek betting love according to DraftKings’ betting splits.

The Commanders, who host the punchless Arizona Cardinals, obtained 88%, even while laying 7 points.

“The Cardinals are in disarray early after they cut Colt McCoy,” Avello noted. “Bettors don’t have faith yet in their quarterback and they may not for at least four or five weeks (that’s when injured Kyler Murray is tentatively set to return).”

The Jaguars, bristling with high expectations after a postseason berth last year, drew 88% early handle as a -5 -road favorite against the Indianapolis Colts, who start rookie QB Anthony Richardson.

The Eagles, who lost in Super Bowl 57 to the Chiefs, drew 82% handle in what may be a tougher-than-it-looks road assignment against the New England Patriots at -4, Avello noted.

“This is a game bettors should be a little careful on,” he said. “New England is a pretty good team, playing at home, and Philly has new personnel in the coaching area.

“Everybody is in love with Philly and think they will repeat as NFC champs. You can see that, but the Eagles also have a tougher schedule than last year.

“We took a lot of Philly money, but that line only moved from -4.5 to -4. A lot of sharper money came in on the Patriots at + 4.5.”

The host Ravens hit double-digit chalk against a Houston team with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. Baltimore’s swarming, opportunistic defense is expected to make the difference.

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Chalk Cha-Ching: Bettors Jump on -2.5 for Bengals, Bills

Bengals’ backers are whaling to the tune of 70% handle and 75% of the bets at -2.5 when their team visits the Cleveland Browns. They are likely to back off if the number hits -3, but this price is a good fit for them.

Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow, who suffered a strained calf in July, is expected to start against the Browns. Gamblers are reading between the lines about Burrow’s status, which won’t become final until close to game time.

Burrow being able to go is baked into the line. Should he become a scratch, the Browns will become favored, Avello projected.

If Browns’ money floods the market, especially at this number, bettors will likely expect a change at quarterback.

The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, have not been overlooked in the Rodgers excitement. They polled at 73% of the handle at -2.5 against the Jets as a Monday Night road favorite.

Avello believes that sentiment will tighten up before game time. Look for that any time the needle hits -3. This game will also receive monstrous betting attention late Sunday and Monday. That could create more volatility in this market.

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“Under” Whelming Total for Panthers vs. Falcons Heads South

It’s Desmond Ridder vs. 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.

So maybe the storyline is not electrifying. But bettors will notice the total shifting from 44 to 39.5, a monumental slide. That will open a gambling opportunity as one of only two betting totals (Washington-Arizona at 38 is the lowest) under 40 points.

Despite the drop, “Under” bettors comprised 70% of the handle.

“It looks like the bettors are thinking these teams will keep it on the ground and that these offenses are going to struggle getting untracked,” Avello said. “They see a grind-it-out game.”

New York Giants Bettors: Thanks for the Hook

The Dallas Cowboys were -3.5 early Tuesday afternoon as a road favorite against the New York Giants Sunday night. But backers of Big Blue, smelling Big Green cash, pounded the line enough to move it to -3 late Tuesday afternoon.

Betting splits are close to 50-50 and this should be an opportunistic buyers’ market up until kickoff.

Cowboys’ bettors locked on the unattractive -3 may consider a line of -2.5 for the first half and an Under 23.5. The Giants are one of the league’s slowest-starting teams.

Last Call for High Rollers in The Big One

DraftKings decided to test the high-end market with an innovative season-long tournament with a $50,000 entry fee. Gamblers can make five selections against the spread each week, 80 for the year. Each win is worth one point.

Find all the rules in the Pool section.

Prizes are guaranteed at $500,000 for first place, $300,000 for second, and $200,00 for third.

But here’s a unique twist for bettors: As of Tuesday, only eight players were entered. Avello said the tournament will take place regardless of how many players get in.

The deadline for entry is Sunday before the 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Avello said he expected a higher turnout in what amounts to the high-rent district of these pools.

This is an overlay for gamblers with deep pockets.

“The idea for us going in was that you would never be going against a lot of people, perhaps 30-40,” he indicated. “I don’t care how good you are, if you are in a big field of competitors, your chances of winning are slim.

“Here, you don’t have to beat many players to hit the board.”

Will the small initial field entice opportunistic gamblers, who handicap the field size and like their chances?

Here’s a look at the BetMGM lineup for Week 1:

Most Bet Games (Tickets)
Chiefs-Lions
Browns-Bengals
Patriots-Eagles

Most Bet Teams (Tickets)
Chiefs -6.5
Lions +6.5
Bengals -2.5

Most Bet Teams (Handle)
Chiefs -6.5
Eagles -4
Steelers +2.5

Most Bet Overs (Tickets)
Chiefs-Lions 54.5
Chargers-Dolphins 51
Ravens-Texans 43.5

Most Bet Unders (Tickets)
Falcons-Panthers 39.5
Browns-Bengals 47.5
Patriots-Eagles 45

FanDuel Betting Trends Highlighting Futures

Gamblers weighing in on Week 1 like to place some of their bankroll on futures bets for prices that may look terrific in hindsight.

Here is a sample compiled by FanDuel:

The Eagles are betting favorites to win the Super Bowl, receiving 14% of bets.

The Bengals and Chiefs are right behind with 10%.

Bettors are ready for Jalen Hurts to continue dominating in 2023. He is receiving 21% of the MVP wagers.

Gamblers expect Justin Fields to take a massive leap within the Bears’ offense. He is second behind Hurts with 10% of MVP bets.

Bettors forecast a big season from Christian McCaffrey in his first full season with the 49ers. He is the betting favorite to win Offensive Player of The Year with 12% of the bets. Justin Jefferson is a close second with 11%.

Micah Parsons is the frontrunner to win Defensive Player of The Year, according to bettors, receiving 20% of the bets followed by TJ Watt with 11%.

The Hard Knocks hype is real, the book says. Fans are all in on the Jets with Gang Green receiving the fourth most bets to win the Super Bowl.

Bettors anticipate a big year from Rodgers — he received 6% of MVP bets.

Read more: Offensive Rookie of the Year odds | Odds to make 2024 NFL playoffs | NFL betting sites | NFL betting promos

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Writer
Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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