NFL Week 1 Line Movement Report: Colts, Bengals Move Off Key Numbers

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on September 8, 2021
NFL Week 1 line movement

Each week during the 2021 NFL seasonTheLines will examine how the coming week’s NFL lines have changed relative to preseason or prior expectations. Often, preseason lines can give an objective look at teams’ relative talent levels, absent week-to-week recency bias. Let’s take a look at NFL Week 1 line movement and see which numbers have change and, potentially, why.

Tracked lines below come from BetMGM Sportsbook, which provide the basis for our preseason look ahead lines. Prices are -110, unless otherwise noted.

Week 1 Line Movement Sees Bengals, Colts Shifting Around 3

GamePreseason LineCurrent Line
Vikings at BengalsVikings -3.5Vikings -3 (-115)
Seahawks at ColtsSeahawks -3Seahawks -2.5 (-115)

Two NFL teams have seen line movement off or to the key number of 3 for Week 1. In both cases, the money driving the market move has come in on the underdog.

Vikings At Bengals

The Minnesota Vikings look to rebound from a bit of a down season after finishing 7-9 in 2020. They look to have a fairly soft landing spot to start that campaign with a road date against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Originally, the Vikings opened as -3.5 favorites. However, the market has shown some belief in the Bengals.

That comes despite some mixed reports in camp about some key Bengals on offense. QB Joe Burrow reportedly looked great in camp and threw with increased velocity. Considering his arm strength was one of the few knocks against him as a prospect, that’s an exciting development for Bengals fans.

However, his rapport with top pick WR Ja’Marr Chase – a former college teammate – didn’t shine through as hoped, as Chase struggled with drops.

The Vikings, meanwhile, have reworked their poor offensive line, but pessimism still remains. PFF ranked the unit just outside the league’s bottom five.

They also have a ton of talent returning from injuries on their defense. Some pundits have espoused optimism about that unit, but perhaps the market expects growing pains as they rebuild cohesion.

In any case, a move from +3.5 to +3 certainly warrants attention from prospective bettors.

Seahawks At Colts

This line actually opened Colts -3 at some bricks and mortar sportsbooks in Las Vegas but opened Seahawks -3 at BetMGM, after QB Carson Wentz suffered a training camp foot injury.

The Seahawks looked like a Super Bowl contender for the first couple of months of 2020 before falling off a cliff as their offense cratered. Folks pounding the table about letting Russ cook thought their wishes came true only for the deep passing game to peter out as defenses adjusted.

New incoming offensive coordinator Shane Waldron has promised a higher tempo with more focus on the short passing game.

Either the market doesn’t buy it or it doesn’t care. The toughest line to move is one off of 3, but the market did just that as they dipped the Hawks under a field goal at Indianapolis.

The Colts, though, have dealt with a lot of moving parts as key offensive pieces Wentz and OL Quenton Nelson both looked uncertain for Week 1. Both have pushed hard to return from foot surgery in time for Week 1, with Wentz also dealing with a stint on the COVID-19 list.

Several QB metrics rated Wentz as the worst or one of the worst starters in 2020. Can he bounce back? The market appears at least slightly optimistic early.

Relocation, Rodgers Leads To Massive Saints/Packers Line Move

GamePreseason LineCurrent Line
Packers vs. SaintsSaints -3Packers -4

One of the most massive moves you’re likely to see all season came from the game formerly known as Packers at Saints.

Of course, they’ll now play at neutral site Jacksonville due to the effects of Hurricane Ida.

That doesn’t fully explain the huge move from Saints -3 all the way to Packers -4, though. The initial line here came from BetMGM in mid-July. At that point, QB Aaron Rodgers had not yet returned to the fold.

The Packers would be a weekly entrant into this article if we worked strictly based on preseason-to-current moves. We won’t beat that horse every week, but suffice to say Rodgers makes a large difference to the spread and his return boosts Green Bay’s chances hugely.

So, this one’s a bit of a special case for a number of reasons. The Saints’ hurricane-related struggles make it especially tricky to handicap even before considering the return of Jameis Winston to being a starting QB. Opinions in the market could vary hugely here, so don’t be surprised if this one hasn’t finished moving.

Week 1 Line Movement Tracker

GamePreseason LineSept. 7, 4:30p ET
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay BuccaneersBuccaneers -7.5Buccaneers -8
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo BillsBills -6.5Bills -6.5
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee TitansTitans-3Titans-3
Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati BengalsVikings -3.5Vikings -3 (-115)
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta FalconsFalcons -3.5Falcons -3.5
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston TexansJaguars -3Jaguars -3
New York Jets at Carolina PanthersPanthers -4.5Panthers -5
LA Chargers at Washington Chargers -1Chargers -1
San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions49ers -7.549ers -7.5
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis ColtsSeahawks -3Seahawks -2.5 (-115)
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots Patriots -3Patriots -3 (-105)
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans SaintsSaints -3Packers -4.5
Denver Broncos at New York GiantsBroncos -2.5Broncos -3 (+100)
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City ChiefsChiefs -6Chiefs -6.5
Chicago Bears at LA RamsRams -7.5Rams -7.5 (-105)
Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas RaidersRavens -4.5Ravens -4.5
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Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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