The first NFL pick of the new season goes down Thursday night, with the defending champion New England Patriots laying a touchdown to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. We preview the opening NFL odds on offer and share our free predictions.
Only in Week 1 could something like this happen. The New England Patriots opened as 2.5-point home favorites for Thursday's 2015 season opener (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but those football odds are months old already. The lifting of Tom Brady's suspension has pushed New England all the way to –7 at press time.
People are happily jumping on the Patriots bandwagon, too. Our early NFL consensus reports show 54 percent of bettors on the defending Super Bowl champions, but looking at our expanded consensus numbers, over 74 percent of the action has been on New England. Our surveys also show four “big bets” of $1000 or more on the Pats, compared to just one for Pittsburgh. Looks like sharp action – the kind we might want to emulate with our Week 1 NFL picks.
Used Brady, 50% Off
It's interesting to see the Patriots only picking up an extra 4.5 points of chalk with Brady at the helm instead of Jimmy Garoppolo. Back when Chad Millman was still doing his PSVAR (Point Spread Value Above Replacement) rankings, he used to value Brady nine points higher than his previous back-up, Ryan Mallett. That says something about Garoppolo's quality, but don't forget, the Pats have steamed past –3 and landed on –7. That's a very meaningful move involving the two biggest “magic numbers” in football betting.
It's also a great opportunity to play the middle on the first game of the regular season. If you were one of the early bettors who had New England –2.5, you can now play Pittsburgh +7 as well, and you'll nail both bets if the Patriots win by three, four, five or six points. You'll also get a win and a push if the Pats prevail by seven. Any other result, and the two wagers cancel each other out, leaving you to pay just the vigorish on one bet. Consider it Roger Goodell's gift to you.
Seven and the Ragged Half-Point
Given how much the betting public loves Brady and the Patriots, we wouldn't be surprised to see them at –7.5 by kick-off, so get in now if you're thinking about putting the champs in your Week 1 football picks. Conversely, if you're going to bet on the Steelers, consider waiting until closer to Thursday night before doing the deed – you might get that magic +7.5, which makes a world of difference.
Alternatively, as we go to press, you can already get Pittsburgh +7.5 at some online sportsbooks, if you're willing to pay a 25-cent premium on the juice. We'd advise against it, though. According to Wizard of Odds, the fair price for buying a half-point off the magic number seven would be 14 cents. That means you should be willing to take on the extra risk of suffering a push, and in exchange, you'll pay 11 cents less in vigorish than you “should” at +7. We'll be back later this week with our NFL picks against the spread and total; in the meantime, shop smart, and may the prolate spheroid be with you this year.