Whether it stands for the “Never Figure League” or the “Non Formful League” the NFL produced a season’s worth of surprises in the opening week of the regular season with two Monday night games still to be played.
After Seattle whipped Green Bay on Thursday night to open the season, easily covering the point spread, the 13 games on Sunday proved again that what happens in the preseason stays in the preseason.
Several teams that struggled on offense in August looked in midseason form in September. Seven underdogs won their games outright and another 3 covered in losses.
Only 3 betting favorites – Philadelphia, Houston and San Francisco – both managed to win their games and cover the point spread. And one of those teams – Philadelphia – had to overcome a 17-0 halftime deficit – at home – to cover as double digit favorites. The Eagles outscored the Jaguars 34-0 in the second half to not just cover the 10 point spread but also to knock the Jags out of 6 and 6.5 point teasers with the Jags pushing in 7 point teasers!
If Week 1 is an indication of what is to come it could be a long season for bettors. Many sports books had record setting days with all the upsets as even the wise guys had, at best, modest success in their moves.
The first 14 games of the season produced an average of 45.1 total points with 4 games clearly going OVER and 8 games staying UNDER. Late line moves on Sunday could have seen the Philadelphia/Jacksonville game result in an OVER after the line dropped from 52 to 49.5 (Eagles won 34-17). Sunday night’s 31-24 Denver win vs. Indianapolis would have stayed UNDER the 55.5 line that existed Sunday morning but would have gone OVER the closing line of 54.
You should always shop for the best available number. Sometimes that means acting early. At other times it means exercising patience. It’s not unusual for midweek line moves to reverse direction and for the closing numbers to be close to the opening numbers in a majority of the games. Not all, but in many.
Week 1 always raises more questions than it answers. While the oft stated advice to not overreact to what you observed last holds great merit, at the same time you should not fail to react either. Every result has some significance that shapes our perceptions and opinions. But we should place unusually great emphasis on how our perceptions and opinions are modified except in the most rare and unusual of situations.
Here’s a look at the Week 2 schedule.
Steelers +3 at Ravens (43.5): This has been a very contentious series over the years. Their last 5 meetings have been decided by 3 points or less as have 9 of the last 10. The Ravens gave Ray Rice his outright release on Monday. He would have missed the game anyway on suspension. PITTSBURGH.
Lions (NL) at Panthers: The advance line has Carolina about a FG favorite pending Detroit’s Monday night result. The Panthers were heavily bet against in week one, closing as high as a 4.5 underdog at Tampa Bay in a game Carolina led wire to wire. The Panthers formula is a conservative offense that is complimented by a top notch defense. QB Cam Newton is expected to start after missing the opener with banged up ribs. UNDER.
Dolphins PK at Bills (43): These teams are fairly equal in talent. The Bills have won and covered 3 of the last 4 meetings including a sweep last season. This is their home opener whereas Miami plays its first road game. At the price, and given recent history, the percentages suggest the Bills present the better value. BUFFALO.
Jaguars +5.5 at Redskins (43.5): Jacksonville is much improved over last season but still a young team that has to learn how to win. Washington has the more talented roster and has much more balanced offense. The Jags are playing a second straight road game as Washington plays its home opener. WASHINGTON.
Cowboys +4 at Titans (49): Dallas QB Tony Romo did not play well and may have been hampered by the lingering effects of his off season surgeries. The Dallas defense did not play that poorly, victimized by 4 turnovers by the offense. Tennessee plays physical, more content to rely on the run than pass. UNDER.
Cardinals (NL) at Giants: Both teams played on Monday night and, barring key injuries, the Giants are likely to be favored by just under a FG. The Cardinals are a team built for UNDER players, with a rather pedestrian offense and a solid defense. The shortened work week should be more of a hindrance for Arizona. NY GIANTS.
Patriots -3.5 at Vikings (49): Although they are playing a second straight road game, the Pats have not started 0-2 in more than a decade. Yeah, this is a square play, but given the track record of QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick sometimes the square play is justified. NEW ENGLAND.
Saints -6 at Browns (47.5): Cleveland coach Mike Pettine had to be pleased at his team’s comeback against the Steelers. The Saints are much more disappointed in their collective effort against Atlanta. The Saints have not fared as well on the road the past few seasons and often that has been due to a leaky defense. OVER.
Falcons +5 at Bengals (48): There has to be some concern about Cincy having to settle for 5 FGs in building that 15-0 lead over the Ravens. But Baltimore’s defense is better than Atlanta’s and QB Andy Dalton and his mates should have more success in converting those drives into touchdowns this week. CINCINNATI.
Rams +4 at Bucs (37.5): Both teams are off of disappointing opening week home losses. Each team also has injury concerns with new St Louis starting QB Shaun Hill and featured Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin both banged up in the losses. Neither team’s offense looked in synch and both teams’ defenses are their strengths. UNDER.
Seahawks (NL) at Chargers: The Seahawks won’t have the great crowd support they enjoy at home. Last season Seattle was 6-2 on the road but 3 of the wins were by 5 points or less. The public is likely to be all over the defending Super Bowl champs, but San Diego is playoff caliber and capable of winning outright. SAN DIEGO.
Texans -3 at Raiders (39.5): The Texans have a rookie head coach and a new QB (journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick), putting them at the beginning of the development cycle. Oakland is not expected to have a very successful season but this is one of their winnable home games. Expect the confidence gained by Carr in his debut to carry over. OAKLAND.
Jets +8 at Packers (46): Playing at home and with several extra days of rest work to the advantage of the hosts against a Jets team unlikely to be able to trade points with the potent Packers offense. Add in that Green Bay was embarrassed by that effort against the Seahawks and this game could get ugly in a hurry. GREEN BAY.
Chiefs +13 at Broncos (52): The Chiefs are shorthanded on offense, especially at WR, so we could see KC resort to more of a short passing game to keep the Denver defense off balance. Denver will seek to remedy its lackluster approach to the second half in which the Broncos scored just 7 points. OVER.
Bears +7 at 49ers (48): The defense was a major shortcoming for the Bears last season and Week 1 did little to inspire optimism. The difference in the two defenses is enough to suggest that the Bears will be forced into making more mistakes and the 49ers fans will be in party mode for the first regular season game in their new stadium. SAN FRANCISCO.
Eagles +3 at Colts (52.5): The Colts fell behind 24-0 at Denver before rallying to within 31-24. Indianapolis has an elite QB in Andrew Luck and the Eagles have an uptempo and innovative offense. Both defenses are average at best. That sets the stage for a prime time shootout between a pair of offenses capable ofthe big play from any point on the field. OVER.
Last week: 5-8-1 (not including 2 MNF games)
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]