On Thursday, Sep. 9, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys to kick off what promises to be another awesome NFL season. Because it’s the first week of the season, it’s important to think overall strategy. After NFL Week 1, we’ll have a better idea of which teams may have legs throughout the entire season. With that being said, check out our NFL Betting guide for the 1st week of the 2021 Season.
Best ways to Handicap the First Week of NFL
2021 NFL Week 1
- When: Thursday, Sep. 9 – Monday, Sep. 13
Don’t read too much into “expert hype”
The NFL hasn’t played their first game and the expert hype machine is already rumbling. Coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence are the next big things, which means the Jags dominate the Texans.
Dak Prescott has looked great in camp, Ezekiel Elliott will care this season, and the Dallas defense is “much improved”, which means the Boys cover against the Buccaneers. Buffalo is so good, they’ll easily beat the Steelers by 7 points even though Pittsburgh almost always covers in Week 1.
Justin Herbert and the Chargers have such an awesome offense, they’ll upset the NFC East winning Washington Football Team on the road. Who cares if the WFT has one of the best defenses in the league?
Beware the preseason hype machine. It will slow it’s motor after the first week. But in Week 1, it’s always revved to the moon. That doesn’t mean hyped teams won’t win or even cover. It does mean listening to the machine could affect your handicapping, which means you could bet on underlays.
Look for road overlay underdogs
In Week 1, most home teams get the benefit of the doubt. A couple of games that stand out are Chicago at the L.A. Rams and Cleveland Browns at the Kansas City Chiefs.
KC went 7-9 ATS last season, which means even if they beat the Browns, they may not cover the spread. The Rams may not play three key starters on their defense, Matthew Stafford could require a game to grasp the offense, the Bears will field a good defense, and Chicago’s offense will be better.
Again, it doesn’t mean the Rams don’t win the game or even cover. But after creating your line, LAR may not offer value at -7.5.
Think NFL franchise pedigree
The Saints must play against the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville. Also, New Orleans will start Jameis Winston and Aaron Rodgers is back with the Pack.
But although the Saints have everything going against them, New Orleans has a top franchise pedigree. Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and owner Gayle Benson have created one of the best organizations in the league.
+4.5 may be too many points to give to a team like the Saints. -2.5 may not be enough points to lay on a team like the Denver Broncos versus the New York Giants.
+6.5 could be way too many points to give to a team like Pittsburgh. High pedigree NFL squads tend to perform well in Week 1.
In NFL Week 1, remember, sometimes the trend can be the rumor
The Vikings are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Week 1. But Minnesota is also on an 0-7 losing streak against the spread, has a quarterback who refuses to get the vaccine, and the home team, the Cincinnati Bengals, are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
Which trend is the rumors and which trend is the news? Maybe, it doesn’t matter. Trends are great, but like in college football, trends don’t matter as much as injuries and matchups.
Why? Coaching changes and NFL roster turnover takes some spark away from trends. Also, in a parity league like the NFL, conflicting trends tend to abound.
Use trends as a guide, but unless you’re sure which trend is the rumor and not the news, turn to matchups and stats to choose the winner, especially in NFL Week 1.
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