Our first episode of Sunday Night Football features the Dallas Cowboys laying six points on the NFL odds board to the visiting New York Giants. Too generous? Perhaps.
What's the biggest TV show in America? Nope, it's not The Big Bang Theory or The Voice or even that hot new show Empire – it's NBC Sunday Night Football. That's according to the 2014-15 ratings for the 18-49 demographic, mind you. Apparently nobody from that demo watches the CW, but they sure do love their football.
If the numbers hold up, at least 20 million Americans (and many more around the world) will tune in at 8:30 p.m. Eastern to this year's SNF debut between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. That's a big pile of eyeballs, and it's a beautiful sight for those of us working a contrarian betting strategy. Expect a healthy amount of public money to come in on this game over the weekend, as recreational bettors make their first football picks of 2015.
That money has yet to come in as we go to press. When we looked at the opening odds for Sunday's matchup, our expanded consensus reports showed a light drizzle of action, with the Cowboys pulling in about two-thirds of the money as 6-point home faves. We've seen the Giants pick up a little steam since then; they now have over 52 percent of bettors on their side, although over 60 percent of the money is still on Dallas at -6 on the NFL odds board. Even so, we're looking at the smallest average wagers by far of any team.
We wouldn't recommend a large bet on either of these NFC East rivals. Yes, the Giants look like they have some value according to our key Week 1 NFL betting trend. And yes, the early action was on New York, which gives us confidence that the sharps are on Big Blue. But they're definitely not betting the college fund on Thursday's game, and neither should you.
The main issue with the Giants, as it has been for about five years now, is injuries. It doesn't look like WR/salsa enthusiast Victor Cruz (calf) will be playing until Week 4. Starting LT Will Beatty begins the season on the PUP list after tearing his pec while lifting weights. And DE Jason Pierre-Paul still has yet to sign a contract with the team after losing a finger in a July 4 fireworks mishap.
The Cowboys have some injury concerns, including CB Orlando Scandrick, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL in practice last week and is already out for the season. Not good, but not as bad as New York's situation. Otherwise, Dallas looks like a good fade candidate in general, with lots of room for regression from last year's 12-4 record (10-6 ATS). We might feel differently once DE Greg Hardy has served his four-game suspension – or it gets overturned, Tom Brady-style. But for now, a small bet on the Giants will do, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Giants +6 (–103) at Heritage