Identifying NFL Underdogs in Pursuit of Profit
We're back for a sixth year posting only NFL underdog picks at OSGA. Fairway's Football Forecast comes off a special season picking 70% winners going 28-12 ATS last season with 21 outright winners. That runs the 5-year mark to 130-91 (58.8%) with 68 outright winners selecting only underdogs with our NFL point spread picks.
While nearly all of the picks are underdogs, there are a handful of picks each season (1-2 last year) on favorites of two points or less. These may be due to line moves at the online sportsbooks later in the week, or home teams that are a very short favorite and essentially an underdog when factoring home field.
We cannot control the market as betting lines move and adjust. That's part of the process and betting market when evaluating the lines at the top online sportsbooks. For bettors looking for increased profit and savings, get on board with reduced juice sportsbooks that offer low vigorish and also take advantage of the sportsbooks bonus offers and promotions.
If you would like to see and compare how much money you would have won at various bet amounts following FairwayJay's NFL underdog picks in last year's 2021 season, then review the weekly winners and profits produced with a chart showing the weekly picks, profit and return on investment (ROI).
Of course, last year's special season is unlikely to be repeated. But a proven performance and history of success and winning NFL picks and profits beyond the recent strong 5-year-run posting picks at OSGA might provide some perspective on what it takes to win and rush to the window with a proven performer.
As we provide weekly NFL underdog picks, we may limit some analysis this season and add updates later while digging into research, stats and NFL news. Handicapping and betting are different skills, but we hope you enjoy the information provided and do your best to get numbers as available and take advantage of more live betting opportunities. Understand also that competitive underdogs (6 points or less) are nearly always worth including, with a smaller portion of your bet on the moneyline. You can increase your chances to win in a contest format by joining the OSGA free NFL football contest again this season.
Week 1 of the NFL season is a unique challenge. Perception can override reality, as last year's top teams and playoff participants get much more love and accolades than the bottom teams looking to rebound and rebuild off a losing season. That often sets up contrary calls and results. With Week 1 betting lines being available to bet since the NFL schedules were announced in May, there is more line movement.
There is also a record 10-road favorites to kickoff Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. We follow last year's super strong season with our biggest card in five years posting more winners than losers with only NFL underdog picks. Let's see if we can take advantage with some home 'Dogs and take an early bite out of the sportsbooks. It's more common to tread lightly in Week 1, so if you can't stomach too many of these, then pass or just bet less or 1/2 units. If too many don't work out, you can bet we'll be right back in Week 2 with the adjustments and Week 2 lookahead lines already showing four home underdogs with other closely lined games.
NFL Week 1 Underdog Picks
Los Angeles (+2.5) vs Buffalo - Rams Moneyline +115 Thursday
Detroit (+4) vs Philadelphia - Lions Moneyline +170
Arizona (+6) vs Kansas City - Cardinals Moneyline +205
Minnesota (+2) vs Green Bay - Vikings Moneyline +100
New York (+5.5) at Tennessee - Giants Moneyline +200
Dallas (+2.5) vs Tampa Bay - Cowboys Moneyline +120 Sunday Night
Seattle (+6.5) vs Denver - Seahawks Moneyline +225 Monday
Buffalo at LA Rams
Thursday night season opener and we're in action. Home teams are 16-3 in the Thursday night season openers (11-4-4 ATS). The Rams are also 5-0 SU/ATS in Week 1 under head coach Sean McVay. We're buying this to +3 (-125) on the Rams and grading accordingly. That doesn't mean don't bet on the moneyline as well at best prices (+121), like the NFL odds offered at Bookmaker, but in this rare case we'll pay the juice and take +3. I quite like the game total as well and bet 'over' 51.5. The Rams are one of the teams included in some of my 6-point teasers this week as well. In the history of the NFL, only one time has an Super Bowl champion been a home underdog the next season. Denver (+3) defeated Carolina in that role 21-20 in 2016. The Rams are better, and while the Bills are also and Buffalo is the preseason Super Bowl favorite, we'll take our chances nearly every time with a top, balanced team of stars as a home 'Dog. My rushing guidelines and point-of-attack play also projected the Rams to outrush the Bills by at least 30 years - a historical 74-75% ATS winning situation. The Bills are without their star CB in the secondary, and while Buffalo led the league in point differential last year and had the No. 1 defense, review their schedule again. It's not what the Rams played, and recall the Bills lost at Tampa when they were down, were blown out by Indianapolis and beat the Chiefs before blowing it in in the rematch at Kansas City in the playoffs. Buffalo opened as the underdog, and the Bills are now favored. We prefer the current 'Dog, adding this ATS situation from the Playbook Newsletter - Defending Super Bowl champions are 5-0 ATS as home dogs during the first six games of the season since 1980.
Philadelphia at Detroit
Both teams expected to be improved under second year head coaches. The Eagles buried the Lions 44-8 in Detroit on Halloween last season to drop the Motor City kitties to 0-8. Detroit turned it around in the second half of the season to win three games (plus a tie) while going 7-2 ATS. That won't dispel a vast majority of bettors belief that you 'don't bet on bad teams' are ask bad teams to make good things happen. But that's not how the NFL too often works and certainly not when betting. Too much talent and parity at the pro level, despite what records show. The Eagles are expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but we'll take our chances with QB Hurst on the road and back Detroit as home 'Dog.
Kansas City at Arizona
Big line move the past week with the Chiefs up from -3.5 to -6. Plenty of firepower on both sides, and this is an insult to the Arizona side that made the playoffs last year following the best 10-game start in the NFL. The Chiefs play the toughest schedule in the NFL this season, and it starts in Week 1.
Green Bay at Minnesota
The Vikings (and Falcons) fit a Week 1 division home 'Dog angle that is 19-4 ATS since 2009 with 16 outright winners. Minnesota could be money in a bounce back season as the offense ignites after the Vikings lead the league with 11 games 'over' the total last season. Minnesota also lost more games in unbelievable, excruciating fashion last year. The Vikings beat the Packers at home last season in a thriller 34-31 at this same home 'Dog price. New coaches and changes for the Vikings, but plenty of firepower on offense and defensive improvement and schemes expected. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes stars out of players while setting a high bar. But the departure of WR DaVante Adams to the Raiders and potential absence of WR Allen Lazard (ankle) will put the spotlight on new young receivers. Positive ATS profile - The Vikings are 11-1 ATS in its last 12 games as a home underdog.
New York Giants at Tennessee
Perhaps two bet against teams? We'll take the one taking back nearly a touchdown, and grab +6 if it shows this weekend. That despite another down year for New York, who is a NFC-worst 22-59 since 2017 and projects to be the worst team this season by Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. Titans a first place finish to missing the playoffs contender and not interested in a projected marginal team laying these points. Public play is all on Tennessee supporting another winning team from last year versus a losing team. Contrary call on Giants to unleash more of what they held back in preseason, including RB Saquon Barkley.
Tampa Bay at Dallas
Sunday night in Big D, and recall the Cowboys almost (should have) beat the Bucs on Week 1 last season, but lost as a 10-point underdog 31-29 at Tampa. Both teams dealing with offensive line issues, and these teams appear evenly-matched by most metrics. Bucs and Tom Brady went 0-3 SU/ATS in August. That may not matter, but laying points on the road against a capable team that can pressure on defense and run the ball makes this another 'Dog to support and bet on the moneyline.
Denver at Seattle
Russell Wilson returns to face his former team. Think the 12th man will matter in Seattle? Broncos and Russ getting all the hype. Seattle 'sux'? Give me the running home 'Dog with proven, veteran winning coach against newbie, and taking back more than a touchdown (6 points for a TD last I checked. Don't understand when media or others say a TD favorite when laying 7). The Playbook Newsletter and database notes that NFL Week 1Monday Night Football favorites are 32-27 SU and 19-39-1 ATS since 1980.
A few other notes. I will very, very, very rarely lay a TD on the road, and rarely lay road points in the NFL. There are exceptions (injuries, key match-ups, etc, situational or motivational, rest players), and I don't like to say Never, Always, Lock, etc. The big home 'Dogs would normally offer some appeal. But I can't get behind the Jets or Bears with sub-par (being kind) quarterback play and superior running games and coaching on Baltimore and San Francisco. But QB Lamar Jackson turnovers and career starting debut of QB Trey Lance for the 49ers comes with risk IMO. I also pulled the plug on the Falcons, who's pass rush is a concern along with a more deficient roster. Those three road favorites also project to out-rush the home 'Dogs by a sizeable margin. But again, remember last season's opener Jacksonville at Houston? The Saints are expected to challenge with a new coach and QB Jameis Winston taking over and offense with talented playmakers. I wouldn't lay it, but watch early action and consider live betting with new QB Marcus Mariota taking over in Atlanta. Division home 'Dog is still the side to lean on and waiting for +6 to pop.
Read my rushing to the window article to better understand point of attack play and the importance of running the football, and how I've profited for decades utilizing these stats, guidelines and projections towards NFL point spread success. It also helps guide you to layoff teams when you see potential discrepancies and combine that with suspect quarterback play. As the season moves along, we'll have more stats to reference and evaluate this one piece of handicapping further in our analysis and projections.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper with unparalleled success in NFL pointspread prognosis. Fairway is recognized as one of the sports industry's insightful analysts, and he chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on Twitter @FairwayJay for more gambling insights.