The first two weeks of the season can be opportunities to cash in your NFL picks and here we show you what to look for and consider when reviewing the NFL odds.
Top 4 Factors in Weeks 1 & 2
Perception Versus Reality
Public perception is everything. NFL odds makers may believe that a public team is likely to win a game by a field goal but their job is to assess what number will attract an equal amount of play on either side, leaving all that vig to be sucked up by the bookmakers. Therefore, it is the oddsmakers job to accurately predict what the public perception of the game is as opposed to what they believe is an educated opinion on what the point spread should actually be which can oftentimes conflict wildly. In this instance if a public team like the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots (with Brady under center) or the Denver Broncos are on the road in, for example, Tampa Bay despite a myriad of reasons why the Bucs should be tough that week at home then they must defer to public perception and open a line that will scare some to the other side instead of getting an avalanche of money on the road favorite. Look for these matchups and get sharp like those who will lay in wait for the squares to drive up the line and then pounce getting a live dog at a great number.
Season Ready – Or Not?
High profile rookies that get drafted as saviors can be overvalued. Think Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay or Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Now one or both of these young men may ultimately become the next Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady but I guarantee you that their familiarity with the system, the speed of the NFL and ability to read defenses will be at an all-time low in the their first two games of their professional careers. That doesn’t mean they won’t play well in the first couple weeks of what will hopefully be a long and prolific career but they will absolutely be learning on the job.
High profile free agents will also need to assimilate into a new system with new teammates. New head coaches can alienate veterans or become a source of hope for a moribund franchise. Don’t overrate high profile additions and think they will change the game immediately. Down the road they may live up to their billing but Weeks 1 and 2 will be a trying time for all. Seek teams with rosters that experienced the least amount of upheaval in the offseason and played well over the last four games of the previous season. That will give you the leg up that most bettors don’t have.
The NFL Odds Matter
Quick – think of the five worst teams in the NFL. I don’t claim to be clairvoyant but chances are the teams that flashed before your eyes were the Titans, Bucs, Raiders, Jags and even the Cleveland Browns. Yes, Cleveland gets a much deserved bum rap even though they ended the season with a 7-9 record and were a stellar 9-5-2 ATS (64.3%). Cleveland gets lumped into the trash bin because even though last season ranked them near the middle of the NFL their history of putrid seasons plagues them and festers in the minds of the betting public. Now fading the Tennessee Titans was a square’s dream last season. They went an abysmal 2-14 straight up and 3-12-1 ATS (20%). But exclude them and you have the other four teams with a combined straight up record of 15-49 but an ATS record of 30-31-3. In other words the point spread helps lousy teams – a lot!
Public is Uninformed
Use the public’s perceptions to your advantage. Now let’s not forget that the public doesn’t always lose and week to week their losses versus the sharps’ wins appear slight. However, think about this. If a dummy goes 4-6 and a sharp goes 6-4 that doesn’t appear to be an earth shattering difference. However, over the course of the season it is enormous. The sharp who caps at a 60% clip will not only win money but will also reap plenty of dough from those season long handicapping contests we are all so fond of while the square will be deep in the red and at the bottom of those same contests. Stay sharp and look for early season betting trends that say the Super Bowl runner-ups from the previous season have gone 2-13 ATS over the past 15 seasons in Week 1. Seattle is a three-point road favorite in St. Louis in Week 1 which means the Rams look like a live dog here.