Identifying NFL Underdogs in Pursuit of Profit
We're back for a fifth year of Fairway's Football Forecast and NFL point spread prognostication. The first in a weekly free pick series looking for value plays and underdogs in NFL football. We'll also chip-in and provide ATS info and looking at situations, scheduling and systems that apply.
The four year record picking underdogs only is 102-79 (56.4%). Last year we played from behind the entire season, but scrambled for final week touchdowns and a 3-0 mark in Week 17 week to finish 25-25 ATS. That included 16 outright underdog winners, which is the best way to bet and increase your potential profit. Competitive underdogs (6 points or less) are nearly always worth including with a smaller portion of your bet on the moneyline when wagering at top online sportsbooks and taking advantage of their bonus offers and promotions.
Through our first two years posting underdog plays at Offshore Gaming Association, underdogs were man's best friend going 51-27 ATS with 37 outright underdog winners. We then kicked off Week 1 in 2019 going 4-0 ATS to improve our 'Dog log. Let's shoot for more underdogs and a bounce back season after finishing .500 ATS in the unusual COVID season of 2020.
My history as a proven NFL handicapper and point spread prognosticator is proven and independently documented years ago with 8 straight winning seasons and a record of 371-277 (57.4%) on nearly 650 plays. Check out my background, handicapping strategies and sports betting stories, and reference Super Bowl odds and season win totals throughout the season.
While nearly all of the picks are underdogs, there are a handful of picks each season on favorites of 2 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. For example, this week the Washington Football Team line has moved from +1 at home to pick at BetOnline and even -1 at top online sportsbook BookMaker.
This week's underdog plays – Shop lines at the leading online sportsbooks.
NFL Week 1 Underdog Picks
Washington (PK) - WFT Moneyline -115
Cleveland (+6) at Kansas City - Browns Moneyline +220
Las Vegas (+4.5) vs Baltimore - Raiders Moneyline +175
LA Chargers at Washington
I teased the WFT team up to +7 and +7.5 when they were an underdog, and now the line is moving more. Defensive home 'Dog play on the no-nickname team with some serious big names along the defensive line in Chase Young and Jonathan Allen. New coaches and changes for the Chargers, but a superstar QB in the making it appears in second-year QB and last year's offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Washington covered six of their final seven games last season to win the division with a sub-.500 record, and they are better this year.
Cleveland at Kansas City
All the hype on the Chiefs again as the AFC's top team, but the Browns are surging and look much improved on defense with added personnel. A stronger, balanced offensive attack is expected for Cleveland in this divisional round playoff rematch from last season. Kansas City did add some offensive line reinforcements and have just two returners along the line. You saw the struggles in the Super Bowl when QB Patrick Mahomes was pressured with a depleted offensive line, and the Browns have stronger players to apply pressure and make this a most competitive opening day game unlike last season's Week 1 disaster at Baltimore. The Chiefs are 32-21-1 ATS with Mahomes as starter, but we'll take our shot on the hyped Browns as well. Take +6 and even if you miss that number, bet the Browns in the first half with some leading online sportsbooks like BetOnline offering +3.5.
Additional Week 1 analysis, betting data, ATS insight and information you can bet on may follow.
If you decide to pull the trigger on the expected worst team in the league Houston Texans (+3) as a home underdog, here is your winning ATS angle.
Divisional home underdogs are 15-6-1 SU and 18-4 ATS in Week 1 since 2009. New Texans QB Tyrod Tayler will start, while the Jacksonville Jaguars start top rookie No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence with new head coach Urban Meyer. The Jaguars went 1-15 last season and are laying a field goal on the road in a division game in Week 1. Imagine.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay