Week 1 of the 2015 season features one of the NFL's classic rivalries, but the football odds have the Dallas Cowboys as big home favorites over the New York Giants.
It's amazing what a little success can do for you. The Dallas Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since Super Bowl XXX, but at least they won the NFC East last year at 12-4 (10-6 ATS). That's a big step forward after three straight seasons of 8-8 football. Now the Cowboys are legitimate Super Bowl 50 contenders, available between +1200 and +1800 on the NFL futures market. America's Team is back.
The New York Giants are moving in the other direction. They've won two Super Bowls during the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning Era, but the last two seasons have been a mess of injuries and poor performance, and this year threatens to be much the same after a trying offseason. The G-Men are only between +2800 and +5000 to win another championship, and they opened as 5-point road dogs on the NFL odds board for Sunday night's season opener (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) in Arlington.
Price Check on Juice
It gets worse for New York. As we go to press, the Cowboys have moved to –6 at most locations, with a few books opting for Cowboys –7 (+115). The 25-cent swing in vigorish is worth the extra point if you're thinking about putting Dallas in your NFL picks this week; according to Wizard of Odds, the fair price for moving from –6 to –7 would be just over 21 cents.
People seem inclined to pick Dallas at either price. Our consensus reports show the Cowboys with a slim 51-percent majority among bettors, after some early support for the Giants, but our expanded consensus numbers have nearly 64 percent of the money landing on Big D. Having said that, both teams are pulling in very small average bet sizes – the smallest on the board for Week 1.
Sunday Night, and Now I Know
This seems a bit strange for two of the most recognizable franchises in the NFL, especially when they'll be playing on Sunday Night Football. However, we can expect a lot more public money to come in over the weekend; the slow trickle of early action can be interpreted as a lack of interest by sharp bettors, who tend to bet earlier in the week.
Then again, this might be a good situation to wait until closer to kick-off. We've identified the Giants as a potential football pick based on the Week 1 trend that's seen non-playoff teams from the previous year go 46-27-2 ATS against playoff teams since 2004. If the betting public does start pouring money on the Cowboys, the betting line could shift firmly onto New York +7, and maybe even steam all the way to +7.5 if business is booming. We'll take a closer look at the possibilities when we make our picks against the spread and total later this week.