There’s three months and change between now and NFL odds kicking off in the regular season. But here’s a critical nugget to keep in your back pocket for NFL Week 1 betting.
Since 2013, divisional underdogs are 28-9 against the spread (75.7%) in their season opener. No, that’s not a trend you should blindly bet. But it justifies the notion that a favorite’s market rating may be too high, given the opponent’s familiarity with a given scheme or personnel. Let’s take a look at a pair of teams that could fit that mold.
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NFL Week 1 Betting: Bengals At Browns
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As I noted in my recent article on the Bengals, they possess one of the more inflated NFL win totals. Not only has Cincinnati reaped benefits of its fair of share injury luck over the last two seasons, but their defense was also fortunate to face the highest percentage of subpar or backup quarterbacks (positioned No. 30 or worse in EPA) in 2022.
The Browns’ Deshaun Watson represented one of those signal callers. Nevertheless, expect Watson to have more success with another offseason in Kevin Stefanski’s explosive offense. Couple that with the addition of slot receiver Elijah Moore — paired with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Cleveland bolstered its defensive front, too, acquiring Dalvin Tomlinson and Za’Darius Smith. The Browns certainly have their fair share of upside on both sides of the ball to compete in a loaded AFC North (and maybe even Super Bowl 58 Odds).
While I’m not completely sold on Watson returning to a Pro Bowl level (2018-2020), there are enough grounds to consider fading Joe Burrow & Co. to kick off Sunday’s portion of Week 1.
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More Week 1: Packers At Bears Odds
This line initially opened with the Bears favored by a single point. However, they were quickly steamed up to -2.5. The movement insinuates that the market doesn’t have much faith in Jordan Love replacing Aaron Rodgers with the Packers.
But why is there so much buy-in on Justin Fields at the same time? Sure, Chicago upgraded its receiving corps by trading for former Panthers wideout DJ Moore. That said, Fields finished No. 24 among QBs in EPA+CPOE composite ranking last season.
- Completion Percentage Over Expected, or CPOE, measures how much higher (or lower) a QB’s completion percentage is — relative to what it is anticipated to be. It’s centered around the kinds of passes he’s attempted.
There’s plenty of time to dig into this matchup further, but the current spread seems to be a bit of an overreaction — especially if it hits the key number of a field goal.
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