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Game of the Year a better option

The NFL has announced that all preseason games have been eliminated for the 2020 season, sending bettors and bookmakers to reevaluate their Week 1 numbers.

Six teams are expected to introduce new starting quarterbacks this season, including Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, Philip Rivers in Indianapolis and Cam Newton in New England. There were five head coaching changes in the offseason, including three hires that have never been a head coach in the league before.a

Without a formal preseason, how will these new pieces assimilate and be ready for Week 1?

Bettors seem to think there will be less scoring. Since the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted its Week 1 lines in May, nine games have seen their point totals drop, five have remained the same and two have gone up (Carolina-Las Vegas and San Francisco-Arizona).

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The SuperBook opened the Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals contest with a total of 46. With new starting quarterbacks on each side, that number has dropped to 44.5. Indianapolis, with Rivers at the helm, has seen its Week 1 total at Jacksonville drop two points from 47 to 45.

I have chosen to shift my focus from Week 1 lines to the Games of the Year market. Several operators have posted point spreads for high-profile contests into October, November and December. I want to formulate thoughts and ideas for where a team might be in Week 9, not Week 1.

I have no idea how Brady and the revamped Bucs will look in against New Orleans in the opener. How quickly will that offense gel? I have no clue. But I think they will have things figured out by November.

Instead of focusing on that Week 1 contest, I shifted my attention to Tampa Bay’s Week 8 contest at the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.

Caesars is offering Tampa Bay -3 (-110) in its advanced market. At FanDuel, the Giants are underdogs in six of their first seven games and getting at least six points in four of those contests. There is a very good chance that New York enters this contest 2-5, or maybe worse. If that is the case, do we really think Brady goes off at -3 on Monday Night Football against a first-year head coach?

I have been critical of Philadelphia’s recent decisions and how this team never seems to have adequate depth. The Eagles’ starting lineup against Washington will probably look great in Week 1. But what will they look like after some attrition?

FanDuel is offering Dallas +3 (-115) for the Cowboys’ trip to Philadelphia on Nov. 1. I am looking to play the Cowboys at that price while expecting the Eagles to hit some hurdles this season.

Let’s break down that point spread a little bit. Eagles -3 is essentially saying that these two teams are on equal terms, and Philadelphia is getting three points for home field advantage.

First, no team should be getting three points for home field under the assumption that there will not be any, or many, fans. Second, the market has clearly favored Dallas over the course of the offseason. At Circa, the Cowboys are -140 to win the NFC East with the Eagles at +150. The market says these two teams are not on equal terms.

If something happens to Carson Wentz (again), the Eagles’ backups are Nate Sudfeld and rookie Jalen Hurts. If something happens to Dak Prescott between now and November, the Cowboys have a three-time Pro Bowler in Andy Dalton.

With no preseason on tap for the NFL this year, start to formulate opinions on where teams will be deeper into the season, and not just for Week 1.