In this column, we look at opening NFL lines. Have these NFL Lines moved already and if so why? Find out as we run down week 2 preseason betting games.
Preseason NFL betting isn’t just for coaches, teams and players to work out the rust, find rhythm and form and get match fit. It’s also an opportunity for NFL bettors to get ready for the upcoming season and flex their betting muscles. Not to mention pad their bankroll ahead of week 1 NFL betting.
The first week of the preseason was arguably a success for bookmakers as there were plenty of results that went against the grain. Of the 16 games trading on the NFL betting floor, the public (according to consensus betting polls) got just six games right, four of which beat the bookies while two, closing with 50-50 split between the favourite and underdog, saw the markets break even.
More starters are expected to get playing time in week 2, meaning NFL bettors are sure to get a better feel for each team and how they stack up. The betting in week 2 should, therefore, take a whole new connotation. Nevertheless, there is a clear fallout from the first round of the preseason and its impact is conspicuously visible in the money coming down the wire at early doors. Of the action, some directions make total sense while some look to be emotionally motivated. In some cases, the action is downright puzzling in our opinion.
Here’s how the betting landscape currently looks, with several movers and shakers on the NFL Odds board starting to emerge.
NFL Thursday, August 18
Philadelphia Eagles vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Opening Line: Steelers -3.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Current Line: Steelers -3.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Eagles 62.7%
Preview: Early money coming down the wire is going towards the Eagles. That has something to do with the outcome in week 1 you’d think, in which the Eagles defeated the Bucs 17-9 and the Steelers lost to the Lions 30-17. However, NFL bettors have to be cautious here. It was an error prone performance by the Bucs, which inadvertently made the Eagles look better than they really were. They barely moved the ball. Plus, their choice draft pick Carson Wentz is injured and won’t see a down in the preseason. Were the Eagles really as good as the winning account would suggest? Usher in the unheralded backup quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson for week 2 and things could be a lot different in the Keystone State battle. On the flip side, the Steelers lost backup Bruce Gradowski to a hamstring injury, which does take the shine off their hefty odds. Landry Jones is likely to be the backup. That probably has many early NFL bettors feeling 3.5 points is too many to lay with the Steelers. It’s early yet but the line on this game is sure to see some significant movement as we approach late doors and sharp money comes down the wire. Perhaps, best to wait on this NFL line and see which way it moves.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Detroit Lions, Ford Field
Opening Line: Lions -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Current Line: Lions -2.5, Over/Under Total 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Lions 59.5%
Preview: Early money coming down the wire according to SBR consensus betting is going towards the Lions, an upshot of their whopping 30-17 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Arena last week. It must be said though that the Lions struggled against the Steelers’ first-team, unable to put up any points until they saw the reserves. On the flip side, the Bengals came up short at the end in a narrow loss to the Vikings. They went all out and an incomplete pass on fourth down saw the game go to the NFC North champions. NFL bettors should probably put more stock into the Bengals, particularly considering the advantage in their backup quarterback position. That is underlined by movement on the NFL odds board contrary to consensus betting polls. While the bulk of the spread bets lean towards the Lions some books have shortened the NFL line to -1 for Detroit. That reverse line movement suggests sharp money is already with the Bengals. Something to consider before making your NFL picks.
Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots
Opening Line: Patriots -4, Over/Under Total 40.5
Current Line: Patriots -4, Over/Under Total 40.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Patriots 54.4%
Preview: The early betting on this game isn’t quite as lopsided as the above two games previewed, which is somewhat shocking. Consider the Bears were the only side shutout last week – albeit they did face the Super Bowl champions. The Patriots’ defense came up big in the 34-22 win over the Saints. On the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots were buzzing too. Keep in mind, Brady is out for the first four games of the season. One would think Belichick will use this time to prep his backups as much as possible. That must be advantage Patriots in a big way over a side that was humiliated last week.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cleveland Browns
Opening Line: Browns -2.5, Over/Under Total 37
Current Line: Browns -2.5, Over/Under Total 37
Early Consensus Betting: Browns 51.4%
Preview: So nobody is backing the Cleveland Browns in regular season betting markets to strike an audible chord – some NFL experts have the Browns coming up with a 0-16 SU record when all is said and done. Yet, for a second straight week, the public is high on the Browns? Wow. It remains to be seen whether the consensus betting polls will still swing in favour of the Browns for their season opener in Cleveland which also marks RGIII’s debut before his new fan base. Perhaps, because the bookies got lucky in the fourth quarter with the Packers scoring two safeties to pull off the cover over the Browns, NFL bettors feel lightning won’t strike twice. However, it fails to recognise the fact that Falcons thoroughly deserved the win and cover over the Redskins behind Matt Schaub’s solid play. How anybody can buy what the Browns are selling beggars belief. It’s worth pointing out that despite the consensus polls tipping the bulk of the spread bets in the Browns’ camp, some books have shortened the NFL line to -1 for Cleveland. That reverse line movement suggests sharp money is already with the Falcons. Something to consider before making your NFL picks.
Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers
Opening Line: Packers -3, Over/Under Total 42.5
Current Line: Packers -3, Over/Under Total 42.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Packers 68%
Preview: The fact that the money coming down the wire is heavily tipped towards the Packers is no surprise. Green Bay easily is one of the most popularly bet teams in the NFL and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are notoriously tough to beat at Lambeau. Still, there are those that are quietly high on the Raiders and it wouldn’t surprise us if late money coming down the wire were to swing towards the Raiders, who after a winning performance in Arizona look to continue the preseason momentum.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Opening Line: Seahawks -3.5, Over/Under Total 38.5
Current Line: Seahawks -3.5, Over/Under Total 38.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Vikings 56.8%
Preview: The public got it wrong last week backing the Chiefs at home. Well, not exactly, the Seahawks came back from behind to win 17-16 on a Hail Mary pass with zeros on the clock and then converted on the two-point conversion. You can’t script that. Nor can you prepare for it. The books were happy though when all was said and done. In any event, this is a game many have circled on their week’s calendar. The reprisal of the wildcard game of the playoffs that will forever be remembered for the botched field goal. Do the Vikings get their redemption at CenturyLink? Seems as if the public thinks so with a resounding yes. As it is, the Vikings have almost 60% of spread bets. If there’s one thing week 1 of the preseason showed it’s that you bet against Seattle at your own peril. Tread carefully here. It’s also worth noting, there has been some sharp movement already with several sportsbooks whittling down this game to a PK.
NFL Friday, August 19
New York Jets at Washington Redskins
Opening Line: Redskins -3.5, Over/Under Total 40
Current Line: Redskins -3.5, Over/Under Total 40
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Redskins 66.7%
Preview: The Redskins have rather a large stake of spread bets in this game. After the Packers, it’s the second highest consensus bet of the week. Kirk Cousins has to like that! Still, it was a rather sloppy opening loss to the Falcons in week 1. Compare that to a solid account by the Jets in which the backups stepped up to come from behind and defeat the Jags. If you ask us, 3.5 points seems a lot to lay with the Redskins.
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys
Opening Line: Cowboys -3, Over/Under Total 40.5
Current Line: Cowboys -3, Over/Under Total 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Dolphins 51.3%
Preview: The Dolphins stunned the Giants and NFL experts in week 1 of the preseason when they reeled off a 27-10 win at MetLife to cover as the road underdogs. The Cowboys played in a right cracker in Los Angeles televised nationally and pulled off the cover as the 6-point closing underdogs in the 28-24 defeat. It’s not surprising that the betting is split down the middle between these two sides at early doors.
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Diego Chargers
Opening Line: Chargers -1.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Current Line: Chargers -1.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Cardinals 55.6%
Preview: Both Cardinals and Chargers were losers in week 1, so they’ll be keen to get their preparations on track here. The NFL betting markets install the Chargers as the nominal 1.5-point favourites probably because of a home advantage than anything else. They really didn’t show up in Tennessee. In any event, with the money coming down the wire moving towards the Cardinals on the road, there is already movement on the NFL odds board against the Chargers. Some books are hanging this game on a PK.
NFL Saturday, August 20
Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans
Opening Line: Titans -1, Over/Under Total 41.5
Current Line: Titans -1, Over/Under Total 41.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: 50-50
Preview: That the NFL betting on this game is currently split down the middle is very intriguing. Not to mention, the fact that the Titans are actually favoured over the Panthers. Granted the Titans won their opener, but they faced a soft Chargers side. Besides, Panthers opened as the road favourites against a much better team in week 1 – the Baltimore Ravens. Why wouldn’t they be similarly favoured if not more in this game? Those that watched the game with the Ravens know the Panthers could easily have won it hadn’t it been for a penalty that cost them a touchdown and a late push that didn’t result in the desired outcome on fourth down when they went for it. Take the points with the Panthers we say quick, while you still can. This market is sure to move dramatically.
New York Giants at Buffalo Bills
Opening Line: Bills -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Current Line: Bills -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Not Available
Preview: There appears to be little betting on this game at the moment, not nearly enough for a clear consensus betting sense. After last week’s debacle at MetLife, it wouldn’t surprise us if most NFL bettors steer clear of this game until they get a real sense of the G-men.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts
Opening Line: Colts -3, Over/Under Total 41
Current Line: Colts -2.5, Over/Under Total 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Ravens 95.2%
Preview: The Ravens have the market cornered at early doors in a big way. Of all the week 2 NFL games, this is the most lopsided early betting currently recorded. Ravens were bent on turning a new leaf in 2016, seems as if the win over the Super Bowl runners-up in week 1 has convinced NFL bettors they’re on the right track. This lopsided action is already seeing movement against the Colts with the NFL line shortening to 2.5-points at some books. Grab the points quick with the Ravens if you like the look of this NFL line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Opening Line: Jaguars -3, Over/Under Total 40.5
Current Line: Jaguars -3, Over/Under Total 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Bucs 88.9%
Preview: An error-prone performance by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 1 is all but forgotten. NFL bettors are clearly high on this team and eagerly taking the points, despite the fact that they are on the road in week 2. Hmm…. There’s a feeling of a bit of a trap about this one. Sportsbooks are hanging attractive NFL odds to the field goal line for the Bucs, juice that might be tempting early NFL bettors to bite. As it is, Bucs at +3 (+100) looks more tempting than Jags -3 (-120). Tread carefully on this one or wait until the betting evens out and the NFL lines or odds improve.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans
Opening Line: Texans -3, Over/Under Total 41
Current Line: Texans -3, Over/Under Total 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Saints 64.4%
Preview: The NFL betting action coming down the wire is heavily skewed towards the Saints at early doors. The Saints are coming off a losing performance in New England while the Texans are coming off a winning primetime victory over the Niners. The Texans are at home. Brock Osweiler is set for his debut before his new fan base. Surely, that’s worth buying into? Keep in mind, the Saints were the 31st ranked defense two seasons in a row. They’ve got some way towards turning a new leaf.
San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
Opening Line: Broncos -3.5, Over/Under Total 40
Current Line: Broncos -4.5, Over/Under Total 40
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Broncos 96.6%
Preview: This market is hardly surprising after the winning performance by the defending Super Bowl champions in week 1. Together with the rather abysmal account by Blaine Gabbert and the Niners, it’s hard to see how NFL bettors can be persuaded to tickle the Niners on their NFL picks. Unless, the NFL line swells ridiculously. Or, Colin Kaepernick gets the start and taps into the form of his heyday, the last bit nobody can predict unless they have a fully functioning crystal ball.
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Rams
Opening Line: Rams -3, Over/Under Total 39
Current Line: Rams -3, Over/Under Total 39
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Rams 57.1%
Preview: Chiefs let one get away from them last week while the Rams stole the thunder in the only nationally televised game of the week. Emotional betting has the Rams taking in most of the early NFL betting action as the public tips the scale. At this rate, we could see a similar scenario with the Rams being bet up ridiculously as they were last week from -3 to -6. NFL bettors might want to wait and let the frenzy take its course before deciding on which side of the coin the value is. Heck, if the Chiefs go up to +6 – just as the Cowboys did in week 1 –we’d pound it with impunity.