Each week during the 2021 NFL season, TheLines 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.
Week 1 Line Movement Sees Bengals, Colts Shifting Around 3
|Game||Preseason Line||Current Line|
|Vikings at Bengals||Vikings -3.5||Vikings -3 (-115)|
|Seahawks at Colts||Seahawks -3||Seahawks -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
|Game||Preseason Line||Current Line|
|Packers vs. Saints||Saints -3||Packers -4|
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
|Game||Preseason Line||Sept. 7, 4:30p ET|
|Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Buccaneers -7.5||Buccaneers -8|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills||Bills -6.5||Bills -6.5|
|Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans||Titans-3||Titans-3|
|Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals||Vikings -3.5||Vikings -3 (-115)|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons||Falcons -3.5||Falcons -3.5|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans||Jaguars -3||Jaguars -3|
|New York Jets at Carolina Panthers||Panthers -4.5||Panthers -5|
|LA Chargers at Washington||Chargers -1||Chargers -1|
|San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions||49ers -7.5||49ers -7.5|
|Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts||Seahawks -3||Seahawks -2.5 (-115)|
|Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots||Patriots -3||Patriots -3 (-105)|
|Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints||Saints -3||Packers -4.5|
|Denver Broncos at New York Giants||Broncos -2.5||Broncos -3 (+100)|
|Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs -6||Chiefs -6.5|
|Chicago Bears at LA Rams||Rams -7.5||Rams -7.5 (-105)|
|Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders||Ravens -4.5||Ravens -4.5|