NFL Week One Is a Handicapping Mystery

One of the keys to winning betting NFL football is to realize that it is a long season, with plenty of wagering opportunities.

Bettor rewards await those who remain patient with 16+ long weeks ahead

One of the great ten rules of life are “those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them”.  I’m not sure who ever invented that phrase had the first week betting NFL games in mind, but it’s possible. 

Like a hungry dog not being fed for seven months, all bettors are salivating for the opportunity to dive into the bowl this Sunday to feast on a full card of NFL action.  Then followed up by not one but two Monday Night Football games.  It’s like not eating for months and then having the Caesar’s Grand Buffet scheduled.  It’s tough to not want to dive in with both fists full of cash.  Or in our iGaming world, hands attacking the keyboard or cell phone. 

But I beg you with several years of frightful experience, its bettor beware Week One without some proof or experience on the football field. 

First, to think that the preseason has any bearing of judgement on your decisions is insane.  More than ever, the NFL preseason has become an exercise to NOT get hurt, rest starters already penciled-in and modify the final 53 player roster with a practice squad. For the NFL, it's the ultimate profit feast enjoying full ticket prices, full parking and stadium benefits, plus television rights. Whoever survived the preseason with their players not hurt, signed and rested won.

NFL Week 1 betting adviceSecond, to believe professional handicappers that you gain an early season advantage having “inside information” not privy to the public is a complete myth.  Even to the coaching staff, there is some uneasiness of a new unit on both offense and defense gaining chemistry and a cohesive rhythm.  

Week One Traditions

It’s become a growing custom over the last five NFL seasons for teams to junk the patience theory when it comes to their prized first round draft choice rookie quarterback.  Look for Sam Darnold to start under center this week for the New York Jets, Josh Allen likely for the Buffalo Bills and even Josh Rosen could lead the Arizona Cardinals immediately into the future.   

Guessing who will be more prepared for their first start is often like predicting which horse will win in their first race.  And keep in mind, plenty of horses won first time out and then folded shortly thereafter.  Remember, this is a team game, where defense and a key interception return could determine your point spread outcome.

Often the focus is on rookie quarterbacks, but check the rosters, especially the starting lineups for overall rookies vs. veterans.  Not based on talent, but predicated on lack of experience and especially nerves, they figure to be jacked up and prone to mistakes in their very first game.

The "what have you done for me lately" theory is always evident in Week One.  That is, handicapping this year’s team based on how they performed on the field last season. Again, with so many roster changes, let alone many key new starters involved, there are opportunities to potentially exploit.

As an example, the Los Angeles Rams are currently an imposing -5 favorite AT the Oakland Raiders. The example of the most surprise team in 2017 vs. the most disappointing team from last season. Losing Khalil Mack last week to the Chicago Bears didn’t help the line as well as questions involving popular new coach Jon Gruden.  Not that I am high on the Raiders as a great choice, but hence the key reasons for the line.

Except for thunderstorm threats, weather is mostly beautiful everywhere and the points are plentiful.  All Totals on games (Over/Under’s) begin at 41 for Buffalo-Baltimore and go as high as 51 currently for Houston-New England at preferred sportsbook Bovada.  Searching the board among preferred sportsbooks, for the opportunity to cleverly select a game going UNDER remains a best bet.  Already the Eagles-Falcons NFL season opener going Under the 44.5 Total was hailed as a premium opportunity.

We’re Out of Shape

I know it’s a stretch (no pun intended) but even us handicappers are a bit out of NFL peak condition to start the season. Trying to make an early kill, betting on too many games and playing anything that appears on television. And these days that includes almost every game on the NFL schedule.

Also, should we get in the hole, we often press too early and find ourselves sunk with 16 weeks of the long NFL season ahead with a full post-season thereafter. Better to “watch a race” as it is known in horse racing parlance.  You will be rewarded for your patience. Plus, winning big on Week One might be an even worse potential pill to swallow. You might think you’ve figured it all out this NFL season and quit the day job.

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

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