By my count we still have five sweaty weeks to go until the official NFL season kicks off in September. Yet you can still find game lines prominently displayed and changing at perennial Vegas sportsbooks masters of information like Don Best and Vegas Insiders. In fact, they've remarkably been there since April, when the 2015 NFL season schedule was introduced. A player has barely put on a pad or officially made the team, but somehow all factors have been forecasted for Week One to concoct a balanced wagering game line. Glad they didn't ask me to do that. But given the choice I'm happier to exploit it for you.
Here's the good news: Several well-known top online sportsbooks including Diamond Sports, BetOnline and Bovada have included these betting lines within their NFL wagering menus. They've dropped them in & out within their list of propositions along with many other respected sportsbooks due to smart bettors trying to take advantage of excellent opportunity. Without any chance of even wagering and seemingly no current restriction on typical game wagering, expect NFL Game One wagering to appear early but perhaps disappear at a moment's notice on these sites.
Many "wise-guys" have recognized the season's best opportunities by not recognizing the best team but the best situation to make a score in Week One. Exploiting an over-inflated line being produced by the public's perception of the previous year and perhaps a last game that occurred with a different roster from seven months ago.
Brady Learned a Bunch
As a perfect Week One example, you might have put a W in the cell phone at half time last year along with Tom Brady with the Patriots leading the Dolphins 20-10 as a -4 favorite. Big mistake. Tom might has well suspended himself as the Fins rolled in the second half, outscoring the Pats 23-0, cruising to a 33-20 win and an easy cover. Who knows? Maybe football pressure increases in Miami humidity or the Patriots needed to get spanked a few times before the Super Bowl parade began. But one lesson to be learned is late January is a long nap until early September. Also checking further into this, the Patriots opened very early as a -5.5 favorite. Hmmm.
Important Week One Factors
More crucial than the long, long time off is the giant roster change from the previous year. No official stats on this but NFL players change uniforms more now than ever. It's good they play a pre-season as most of the Philadelphia Eagles offense would barely recognize each other before kick-off against the Falcons in week one.
Another huge factor is assuming who will be at quarterback as that is the major determining indicator for the betting line and public preference. At this juncture Don Best has the Eagles- Falcons initial Monday Night Football game as Even or Pick-em. Perhaps that's you because you can "pick-em" who the Eagles starting QB will be? Will unpredictable head coach Chip Kelly risk new acquisition Sam Bradford coming off a year and a half layoff or go with veteran back-up Mark Sanchez? Or if you're thinking of betting the Eagles right now, pray with him that Tim Tebow doesn't get the start.
Another very predictable factor is the public playing their traditional favorites in Week One. They seem to forget everything that happened last year and more bet with their heart than brain than any other time in the season. Watch for the Cowboys, Packers, Steelers and even both New York teams to get extra fan points that can make a point spread difference. Here's a few match-ups to potentially look out for at this very, very early stage:
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (Even) / Thursday, September 10th
While Tom battles it out with the NFL and the U.S. Federal Courts deciding whether he'll play this specific game, many important wagering details have been overlooked.
This is football, not chess, a tennis match or a golf tournament. Team defense matters, home field matters, and 52 other players' matter. And by the way, New England Patriots back-up Jimmy Garoppolo is a 2nd year NFL QB that deserves some respect. That's not to say this is the most recommended play of the season but this game began with the New England Patrios as a -4 favorite, on the betting line.
Consider the Patriots learning from their Week One disaster in 2014 for starters, as Bill Belichick motivation. Also to the team as they have something to prove as Super Bowl champions, not Brady's supporting cast. With due respect to a very good Steelers offense and great QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh won many games outscoring the opposition last year and will have to improve dramatically this year on defense. Lastly, it is still possible that Brady might indeed play this game if he wins his appeal. You'd feel pretty smart even up at kick-off should that happen.
Miami Dolphins (-3) at Washington Redskins / Sunday, September 13th
This is another "what have they done for me lately" game in the eyes of the public in terms of possibly taking advantage. Many positive things are expected for Miami this year with maturing QB Ryan Tannehill reaching greater promise with NFL experience plus the huge defensive addition of DE Ndamukong Suh. Conversely, it's tough for all of us to get over the massive downslide of Robert Griffin III. RG3 let down many bettors but seemed to begin redeeming himself very late in the season including a huge upset over the Eagles at home. The Redskins have improved this season on defensive. They will definitely not challenge for the playoffs but getting as many as 3 points and maybe more here may look as a huge gift. If you can buy that early, take it.
Key Earlybird Advice
Mainly forget about the NFL pre-season games and keep a keen watch-out in August on major sportsbooks like Bovada, Diamond Sports and JustBet for these NFL Week One opportunities. Contrary to prop bets, there shouldn't be any wagering limits and you could potentially secure a major advantage by beating the betting public to the door . . . a chance you'd never ever have during the rest of the season.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights from Glenn, click here.