NFL Picks: Focus on Week 1 NFL Totals & Their Movement

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 11:19 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2015 11:19 PM UTC

Are there any decent picks left to be had in a Totals market picked over by the pros? Let’s have a look & make a meal out of stone soup. Now does anyone have a spare carrot?

The NFL’s Regular Season opens up this Thursday night as the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) in a game which has certainly gotten more than it’s fair share of press. And when you think about Media a long, long time ago, and then contrast the amount of publicity this simple American Football game has gotten with the amount of press Philo Farnsworth got when he invented the Television back in 1953, then you can see that we’ve all gone down the path to Locoland and that our Modern Priorities probably aren’t worth prioritizing anymore. We done. When a $5 Footlong is more important than changing your pet’s water dish, well then you know we’re well into the Quickening. Anyway, this is a solo look at all 16 NFL Week 1 games from a Totals perspective and as you will see, almost all of the games have been bet down from their Opening released numbers in late April. And whether or not that’s a byproduct of the Spring odds release, the popularity of NFL betting or just Wiseguys with a strong Under angle who are also likely trying to create Middle and Hegde opportunities with the potential to buy back Over bets at lower numbers now as we end the summer and look forward to the Fall or a combination of all of the above is anybody’s guess. So, the best Totals numbers are long gone in terms of Unders, so adjust your amounts accordingly, shop around or buy a ½ if you have to to get the number where you want it. Or just lay off. I’ve never lost when I decided to lay off a Total. So the real skinny here is that the early money was all on the Unders and that the sportsbooks will no doubt be pulling extremely hard for the Overs in a weird week with all 32 teams virtually starting all over again with fresh Rosters and new QBs leading the way and the new Extra Point rules starting to affect Regular Season games. This season will truly be unlike all previous ones with more 2-point conversion attempts coming in the NFL. Best strap in Buttercup, we’ll probably be seeing some funky scorelines we’ve seldom seen before like 19-11 and 25-8 and maybe even a 9-8 if we’re Lucky and we’ll hear more about Kickers missing XPs than we ever have before. And on top of the gambling, there will certainly be some Fun and Entertainment to be had. The time has come.


Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Opening Total: 53 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 51 (Station Casinos, CG Technology, William Hill)
Highest Current Total: 51½ (Almost everywhere)
Alternate Total: 52½ Under -142 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
With Patriots QB Tom Brady playing and the New England Patriots possibly a little mad, the thought now is that maybe the Pittsburgh Steelers could get blown out here now on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. And the steelers now porous Defense could be the reason this one goes Over. In our game preview here at Sportsbook Review, we have the host Patriots clobbering the Steelers by a predicted 34-19 score, so that’s a total of 53 points which would just barely go Over the current Totals hanging everywhere, but that result would push the opening number put out by Jay Kornegay and his staff over at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook here in Sin City when Week 1 openers were released the day after the NFL’s schedule was officially unveiled in late April. So, as you can see, Wiseguys and the General Public have bet this game down a couple of points, although a ½- to 1½-point rise near kick off (to around 51½ or 52) may be seen, meaning anyone who bet this (Under) at the opening 53 and then also bet back on the Total going Over at 51 here has a shot at a Middle on 52 with Pushes on 51 or 53 possible. Because RB Le’Veon Bell (Suspension, Marijuana) and WR Martavis Bryant (Suspension, Marijuana) won’t be playing for Pittsburgh, the Over is harder to recommend but New England should score 3-5 TDs here and get a couple of FGs (24-46 points range) so the onus may be on the Steelers to take this game Over. And maybe no Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau and all of the recent retirements translates to Overs in Steelers (1-3, 67 PF-99 PA in Preseason) games? The predicted 53 points here makes the lean toward the Over in the Regular Season lidlifter, but with that number so close to the real Total(s), let’s look for some gold elsewhere in this Week 1 Totals trip. The side (Patriots -7) is may actually be the better bet here.
NFL Total Lean: Over 51 (William Hill) Sunday


Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Opening Total: 50 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Highest Current Total: 50½ (Station Casinos,William Hill)
Lowest Current Total: 50 (Almost everywhere else)
Alternate Total: 52½ Under -162 (Over +125, Sky Bet)

The Total Skinny
This number has pretty much stayed, or ended up where it started months ago, so the absences of WRs Jordy Nelson (Packers) and Rookie Kevin White (Bears) hasn’t really affected the betting public’s perception of this first game on the betting board on Sunday. With Randall Cobb and Davante Adams for Green Bay and Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal for Chicago, QBs Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler will still have some nice targets here. In this game last season at Soldier Field, Green Bay defeated Chicago, 38-17 and the game went Over the posted 50½ Total and the L3 games in this series have all gone over the posted Totals with 69, 55 and 61 points being scored. With nice Summer’s-end weather in Chicago and two rested gunslingers like Rodgers and Cutler, the Over seems logical here but the fact the Bears held opponents to a total of 48 points in 4 Preseason games combined with Green Bay hardly trying in its Exhibition games and being without main target Nelson makes this Total a little harder to handicap. Still, points should be scored here in this bitter NFC North rivalry.
NFL Total Lean: Over 50 (Pinnacle)


Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Opening Total: 43 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 40½ (Many places)
Highest Current Total: 41 (Many places also)
Alternate Total: 41½ Under -133 (Over +100, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
Another Week 1 game where the early action was strongly on the Under, driving it down 2 to 2½ points to its current levels. And whether it’s a mass movement to bet Unders, the Rushing-oriented matchup here or maybe the injury to Houston Texans RB Arian Foster, this one seems like the Totals money may be in the right place with Chiefs QB Alex Smith looking to get used to new teammates like WR Jeremy Maclin and Texans QB Brian Hoyer (Browns) trying to feel his oats on his new team at Home in a game that actually matters. The last time these two teams played at Kansas City in 2013, the Chiefs won 17-16 as the game went Under the low posted 38½ Total. Kansas City saw 8 of of last L11 Regular Season games go Under the Total last year and this one should see close to 40 points scored, so taking the Under at 41 seems the best route, although the early birds who got the 43’s and 42’s may end up being the wise ones when the dust clears after this AFC affair. Still, a tough and close call. Oddsmakers are oddsmakers for good reason and they know numbers like Paula Deen knows Butter, brother.
NFL Total Pick: Under 41½ -133 ( Bet365)


Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets
Opening Total: 41 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 39½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, Wynn, Station Casinos)
Highest Current Total: 40½ (MGM Mirage)
Alternate Total: 42 Under -142 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
Yet another Week 1 NFL game with small drift (1 point) toward the Under and that move makes sense for a number of reasons. The New York Jets improved their Roster much this Offseason while the Cleveland Browns are still pretending QB Johnny Manziel can be something for them someday, proving they’re delusional. After watching and analyzing the Preseason, even though the lean here would be to the Under, maybe taking the upstart Jets would be a better play now although Common Sense says this one is best watched and that this Total, like the first three, is probably spot on.
NFL Total Lean: Under 42 -142 ( Bet365) Indianapolis


Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills
Opening Total: 48 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 46 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Highest Current Total: 47 (MGM Mirage)
Alternate Total: 45½ Over -120 (Under -110, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
More downward drift, and even by this point on the betting board one can see the sportsbooks will be pulling strongly forthe Over in almost all of the NFL’s 16 Week 1 opening games. And it’s safe to say that oddsmakers may be thinking about skewing a ½ or full point off futures Totals openers in an effort to stave off so much early Under action from the Wiseguys and pros. That is unless the majority of the games go Over and then the oddsmakers will be smiling and glad they could oblige the sportsbooks with sharp numbers that sat out there for almost six months and drew so much damn Under money. But Rust and Tentativeness can be expected in Week 1, even with four Preseason games under the belt for NFL teams. Here, with the Buffalo Bills deciding to go with Tyrod Taylor as its starting QB and the Virginia Tech product having such nice targets at WR in Percy Harvin (Jets), Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, the hosts should be able to put up 22 or more against the Horseshoe’s Defense. And Colts QB Andrew Luck has WRs TY Hilton, Andre Johnson (Texans) and Round 1 Draft Pick Phillip Dorsett (Miami-Florida) and a pair of the speediest waterbugs in NFL history. To get off to a good start, Indianapolis will probably have to put up at least 30 here and they can so the Over seems like the logical route, as it often is in Colts games with so much passing stopping the clock often while also churning big chunks of yards.
NFL Total Pick: Over 45½ -120 ( Bet365)


Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
Opening Total: 44½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 43 Under -105 (Pinnacle)
Highest Current Total: 43½ (MGM Mirage, CG Technology, The Greek)
Alternate Total: 41 Over -133 (Under +100, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
The first game on the betting board where the (Total) number feels off. Art vs. Science. And the numbers somewhat bear that out, although the Total feels about 4 points off to the high. The Washington Redskins have scrapped RGIII in favor of Kirk Cousins while the Miami Dolphins will be on the Road and trying not to lose to the lowly Redskins, a real possibility. With the number seeming more than a little off and the L3 meetings in this series having gone well Under the Totals with 19, 29 and 17 points scored—including the last meeting between the two, a 20-9 Dolphins win in Miami in 2011. With Miami looking to be stronger on Defense with monster Free Agent-signee Ndamukong Suh at NT and Washington going with Cousins and having few great skill position players, this one should finish with around 36-40 points scored and Under the highest current (Sunday night) number out there, 43½. This one seems worth the while with the Redskins porous Defense being the worrying thing for those Under players.
NFL Total Pick: Under 43½ (The Greek)


Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville
Opening Total: 43½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 41 (Most everywhere else)
Highest Current Total: 41½ (Station Casinos, 5Dimes)
Alternate Total: 42 Under -133 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
Like most games on the board, this one has also drifted down, though like most, that movement came pretty early in the betting week which actually lasted about six months. My research shows NFL Weeks 2-17 won’t have 6 months between odds releases. From here on in, handicappers (as well as oddsmakers and sportsbooks) will be back to having that customary less-than-a-week with which to work. Here, this is a huge game for the Carolina Panthers for a number of reasons. The Panthers lost WR Kelvin Benjamin to a freaky injury this Preseason, so QB Cam Newton and Head Coach Ron Rivera (36-30-1 ATS) need to get off to a good start so look for workhorse RB James Stewart to feature heavily here at Jacksonville. The Jaguars will be without Free Agent-signee TE Julius Thomas (Broncos; Finger) who is out for 4 weeks and is having surgery, so Jaguars QB Blake Bortles will have to make do with what he has and expect a somewhat conservative game plan from the hosts. The last time these two met was in 2011 when the Jaguars lost 16-13 in Charlotte and the game went well Under the posted 43 Total. Last year, 5 of the L6 Jacksonville games at Home at EverBank Field went Under the posted Total.
NFL Total Pick: Under 43 -133 ( Bet365)


Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams
Opening Total: 44 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 41 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, William Hill, CG Technology, Pinnacle—Over -108, 5Dimes)
Highest Current Total: 42 (MGM Mirage)
Alternate Total: 42½ Under -138 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
Again, a Total about 2 points less than it’s highest opening point, creating potentials for the few (and the Rich) who bought these early Under tickets to create a Middle if the numbers drift higher, as they tend to do, closer to game time as the General Public plays its theoretical Favorites and Overs. But those days have changed some, and with the advent of in-game wagering, sports gamblers have all sorts of ways to get down so those megatrends of movement probably aren’t as distinct as they once were. Here, the defending NFC champion Seahawks and RB Marshawn Lynch are in the Gateway City and this is the debut of newly acquired TE Jimmy Graham (trade with Saints for C Max Unger). Expect a low-scoring and conservative affair in which the Under looks like it may be the call with so much nervousness with both Offenses with Russell Wilson and new guy Nick Foles (Eagles) at QB. With 5 of the L6 in this series going Under and playing solid D the only way St. Louis can hang with Seattle, backing the Under is the call here in this NFC West meeting.
NFL Total Pick: Under 42 (MGM Mirage)


New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals
Opening Total: 48 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 47 (Wynn Las Vegas, CG Technology)
Highest Current Total: 47½ (Most places)
Alternate Total: 48 Under -133 (Over +100, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
With QB Drew Brees (55-47-4 ATS Away) and the New Orleans Saints, the first inclination is to lean Over as they pass a lot and are very sloppy and mistake-prone on Defense, which leads to points. But the Arizona Cardinals are now a very tough Defensive team, and with this being Week 1 and both teams not wanting a loss as a Wild Card may be their only ticket to the Postseason, a chess match could break out. So, this could rocket Over and see 60 points or it could be a snoozer with around 40-42. Who knows. There seem to be better Totals picks on the board than this NFC inter-divisional affair from the Valley of the Sun on Sunday.


Detroit Lions vs. San Diego Chargers
Opening Total: 46½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 45 (Wynn Las Vegas)
Highest Current Total: 46 (William Hill, Station Casinos, The Greek, Pinnacle—Under -107)
Alternate Total: 47½ Under -142 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
The last two times these infrequent combatants met was back 2011 in Motown where the Lions smoked San Diego, 38-10 in a game that went Under the posted Total of 52½, while he last time these two met at Qualcomm Stadium was in the 2007 where the Bolts blasted the King of the Jungles, 51-15 with the game going Over the 45½ Total. So, so much insignificance in the numbers. With Philip Rivers (41-34-1 ATS Home) and Matt Stafford at QB and loads of skill WRs playing here like the Lions Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate and the Chargers Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen, the lean would be to the Over if both teams engine’s were warm but this is Week 1 so it seems this one is probably best watched from both the Total and Side Point of View.


Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opening Total: 42½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 41½ (Wynn Las Vegas)
Highest Current Total: 42½ (MGM Mirage)
Alternate Total: 43½ Under -138 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans both naming highly prized and top 2015 Draft choices and Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota their respective starting QBs and this being the first Regular Season game of their young careers, expecting tentativeness, conservatism and little desire to run up-field is the call here. Both teams are regularly tabbed in the NFL’s Bottom 6, but the Bucs at least had a couple of shining moments in the Preseason. The last time these two met, the Titans won 23-17 in 2011 at Home as the game went Under the posted Total of 43. In 2007 in the last meeting here in South Florida, Tampa Bay won 13-10 in a game that went well Under the 37 Total. This should duck under the high Total now of 42½ here in Las Vegas at the MGM Mirage.
NFL Total Pick: Under 42½ (MGM Mirage)


Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders
Opening Total: 44½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 43½ (Almost everywhere)
Highest Current Total: 44 (Station Casinos, SIA, William Hill, CG Technology)
Alternate Total: 45½ Under -155 (Over +114, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
These two AFC teams play like once every three years and the Trends are choppy Side-wise as well as Total-wise. Toss in the small sample size, and this one’s too tough to call. The Raiders lost 34-10 at Cincinnati in 2012 in the last meeting between these two—the game went Under 50—while Oakland won 20-17 here at Home in 2009 as that game tickled Over the posted Total of 36 by 1 point. Of note: 5 of the L6 and 7 of the L9 Raiders games last season went Over the posted Total.


Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Opening Total: 53 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 48½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Highest Current Total: 49½ (The Greek, Pinnacle)
Alternate Total: 52½ Under -179 (Over +130, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
The highest Total on the betting board for Week 1 and with Altitude and a Manning the Elder and Joe Flacco it makes sense....or at least it did way back in late April when the Opening numbers came out and the Wiseguys banged yet another helpless Total down. Then some saw that Denver’s Defense was much improved and that Peyton may have lost some zip on his throws and the line trickled some more, a little like me in the bathroom around 5:24 a.m. but this is a story about Totals and not plumbing, Papa Bear. Get ahold of yourself. So, for those who bet Under 53, we salute you. Potential Middles at 49, 50, 51 and 52 are all yours to be had. But as far as advice with the game being bet down almost 5 points? My advice would be maybe bet the Openers like the Wise Guys to a) Possibly get the best number; b) Possibly create a Middle or maybe In-Game Hedging opportunity; or, c) Maybe both. If you like the Under, it seems you may be a little late to the party. But if you like the Over here, the pickings are good. Here it seems the (Total) number was set a little high on the premise of what Denver’s offense did, and was designed to do last season under Head Coach John Fox. With Gary Kubiak now in charge in the Mile High City, the word on the street is that the Broncos would like to Rush the ball a little bit more to try to preserve the 39-year-old Manning a little more, almost like trying to squeeze that last precious drop of ketchup out of a bottle. The thought here is to still play the Under, but to buy the ½ point up to 50 at a shop where it’s currently at 49½ like it is at Pinnacle right now.
NFL Total Pick: Under 50 -120 (Pinnacle)


New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Opening Total: 50 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 51 (Station Casinos, CG Technology)
Highest Current Total: 51½ (Most everywhere)
Alternate Total: 52½ Under -129 (Over +100, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
Both meetings last season in this NFC East series went Over (Cowboys won 31-28 at MetLife to go Over 48½ and won 31-21 at Home at AT&T Stadium to go over the posted Total of 47 and the Over is 4-0-1 in the L5 in this series with QBs Eli Manning and Tony Romo and WRs Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Dez Bryant and Dallas TE Jason Witten enjoying the pass-heavy affairs. The lean here is Over, although with the Cowboys looking so sluggish in the Preseason, staying away (from the Total) is the prescription on this 2015/16 NFL Regular Season Sunday Night Football debut from Jerry World. Pass. (Get it?)


Philiadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons
Opening Total: 53½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 55 (MGM Mirage, Pinnacle—Over -108)
Highest Current Total: 56 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, William Hill, Wynn Las Vegas)
Alternate Total: 57½ Under -142 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
Game 1 of the Monday Night Football season debut doubleheader will see QB Sam Bradford and new Free Agent RB DeMarco Murray (Cowboys) making their Eagles Regular Season debuts and any game involving the Eagles seems Over-ish these days while all Falcons games since the Bush the Elder days seem to go Over with Falcons QB Matt Ryan flinging the football and Atlanta often playing what seems like High School-level Defense. Woof. So if any one of the 16 Week 1 games were to actually see its Total rise, it would have to be this affair between the birds, the Eagles and the Falcons and in the 72° climate-controlled confines of a dome (Georgia Dome). Chip Kelly created an Over culture while Head Coach at the University of Oregon and it will be hard to bet or recommend betting Eagles games Under this season. The last time these two teams played, the Falcons won 30-17 in Philly as it went Over the Total of 43 as it has the L3 times these two have met.
NFL Total Pick: Over 55 -108 (Pinnacle)


Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers
Opening Total: 42 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Total: 41 (YouWager)
Highest Current Total: 41½ (Almost everywhere)
Alternate Total: 43½ Under -142 (Over +105, Bet365)

The Total Skinny
The second Monday Night Football game of the evening and the final game of Week 1 of the NFL Regular Season will see two pretty mobile QBs in the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick and the Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater and all eyes will be on both Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and Free Agent-signee WR Mike Wallace (Dolphins) and a team that looked pretty good in the Preseason and San Francisco which lost more players in an Offseason than anyone can ever remember. Like almost every other single game, this game also saw money on the Under, and with the Niners a great unknown—especially their Defense—it seems sitting the Total out in this one would be wise as there are more than enough seemingly decent Week 1 Totals picks to chose from as you can see below.


NFL REGULAR SEASON WEEK 1 TOTALS PICKS: Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans Under 41½ -133 ( Bet365); Indianapolis Colts-Buffalo Bills Over 45½ -120 ( Bet365); Miami Dolphins-Washington Redskins Under 43½ (The Greek); Carolina Panthers-Jacksonville Jaguars Under 43 -133 ( Bet365); Seattle Seahawks-St. Louis Rams Under 42 (MGM Mirage); Tennessee Titans-Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 42½ (MGM Mirage); Baltimore Ravens-Denver Broncos Under 50 -120 (Pinnacle); Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons Over 55 -108 (Pinnacle)

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