The National Football League (NFL) is finally back! Week one was jam-packed full of action and in this article we are going to recap how the betting action went down. It’s never too early to overreact to a small sample size right? Let’s get started!
New England Looks Meh
The NFL action kicked off Thursday night with the defending champion New England Patriots taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots closed out as a -9 point favorite in this one. This seemed like a huge number as the Chiefs were more than serviceable in 2016, as they finished with the second-best record in the AFC, at 12-4. The sharps were all over the underdog in this one, and it paid off nicely as not only did the Chiefs cover the 9 points, they won the game outright 42-27!
The game was a coming out party for Kareem Hunt, as the speedster rolled up 148 yards on the ground and another 98 yards through the air and scored three touchdowns. It was an offensive explosion against a very good Patriots defense. Alex Smith was matched up with the GOAT, Tom Brady, and outplayed him at every turn. Smith ended up with a career-best game, throwing for 368 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks. Comparatively, Brady threw for just 267 yards and ZERO touchdowns.
You couldn’t have asked for a better performance from the Chiefs but let’s make sure not to overreact moving forward. It was a great week one with the eyes of the world watching against a very good Patriots team, but I can’t imagine Alex Smith will continue looking like Joe Montana and you can expect them to come back to earth again very soon. And the Patriots? I wouldn’t worry about Belichick’s squad. The last three times the Patriots lost in week one? They won the Super Bowl each time.
The Jets Look Like Well, the Jets
The New York Jets made headlines last week as the biggest betting long shot to win the Super Bowl in the history of legalized betting. The Vegas odds makers had the Jets as 1000-1 underdogs to win it all! Not the type of headlines you want to be seeing if you are a Jets fan.
After watching this game, two things come to mind. One? The Jets aren’t winning the Super Bowl this year, and if you think so I will book that 1000-1 action myself! And two? They aren’t really that bad. Save for a fourth-quarter touchdown that put the Bills ahead for good this was a quite competitive game.
The Jets managed to do almost nothing offensively all game and yet were in this game most of the afternoon. Their leading rusher was Bilal Powell, who ran for an underwhelming 22 yards on just seven carries. Quarterback Josh McCown, did Josh McCown things, throwing for just 187 yards, no TDs, and two picks.
In the end, the Bills pulled away and covered the -7.5 spread, but after watching this game, I think you wouldn’t have been too wrong for liking the Jets in this one. They are bad, and they are going to be bad all year, but if they are getting a touchdown or more, you may look at them as a value underdog that is going to cover more than they should this year.
The Lock of the Year Doesn’t Cover in Chicago
The Atlanta Falcons very notably blew a 28-3 lead last year in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Coming into this season, many expected them to once again challenge for the world title. The buzz around Vegas this week was that Atlanta was a lock against what should have been a very bad Bears team. Anytime people start telling you a game is a lock immediately jump on the other side!
After being tied 10-10 at halftime, it took two fourth-quarter scoring drives led by Matt Ryan to seal the victory. However, the line closed at the Falcons -6.5, so while the 23-17 win was good enough for the Falcons to go 1-0, any of you that backed Atlanta was left getting beaten by the half a point hook. My least favorite way to lose.
I’m not exactly sure what to read into this game. Are the Falcons overrated? Maybe. Are the Bears as bad as people think they are? Maybe not. Are Vegas odds makers really good at setting lines? Yes, yes they are. Chicago is a big underdog again next week on the road in Tampa Bay, currently getting 7.5 points, seems like a bargain with how good they looked this week against the defending NFC champs. But you never know, they are the Bears, and Mike Glennon is Mike Glennon, so I guess we will have to play wait and see.
Baltimore Blows out the Bengals
This one was hard to see coming. The Bengals went into this game as -2.5 favorites and couldn’t seem to get going all day long. They turned over the ball an absurd five times, including four interceptions from ginger haired QB Andy Dalton. Dalton also got sacked five times and may have had the worst game of his career in this one.
The Ravens offense looked almost as bad as Joe Flacco couldn’t get in a rhythm all day and finished with just 121 yards passing. To be fair the Ravens spent most of the second half just playing keep away as they had built up a 20-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but it was an underwhelming performance from one of the highest paid QBs in the league, to say the least.
The Ravens got the win as underdogs on the road, which is hard to do in the NFL, but they didn’t leave Cincy unscathed as it looks like running back Danny Woodhead is done for the year as he was placed on injured reserve after the game.
Is the Baltimore defense really this good? They might be. Remember this is a team that has won Super Bowls as a defense-first team, and after this week’s performance, they look poised to be a force again this year. The Bengals host the Texans this week in a matchup to see who the worst QB in the NFL this year between Dalton and Tom Savage, look forward to lots of sacks and picks in that one!
Minnesota Is for Real
The Minnesota Vikings are one of the sexy picks to come out of the NFC this year. After finishing a respectable 8-8 last season, they have Sam Bradford back and looking healthy, and that defense is really, really good. They also picked up rookie Dalvin Cook who immediately made his mark in the league by breaking Adrian Peterson’s Vikings rookie rushing record with 127 yards on the ground.
It was fitting to see Cook break the record as Peterson stood on the other sideline looking pissed off and arguing with New Orleans head coach Sean Payton. The fall of Adrian Peterson is a bit of a sad one as it was painful to watch as he just ran into the offensive line over and over again in a Saints uniform. Peterson ended up with just 18 yards on six carries, but 9 of those yards came on his first carry, so after that, it was an abysmal showing for the future Hall of Famer.
They made Sam Bradford look like the MVP. Bradford finished up 27-32 for 346 yards and three scores, a stat line that would be very impressive against anyone else but this putrid Saints defense. The Vikings D, on the other hand, looked dominant against what should be a strong Saints offense. Completely shutting down the run game as the Saints leading rusher was Peterson with his 18 yards, and holding Drew Brees in check as well.
The Saints will face another good defense next week as a pissed off Patriots team rolls into New Orleans. As a general rule, I am not a fan of laying a touchdown on the road, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Patriots come out fired up and blow the doors off this Saints defense, fifty points isn’t that far out of the question. The Vikings? They are getting 5.5 points on the road in Pittsburg. Bradford won’t be nearly as good against the Steel Curtain in Pittsburg, but those 5.5 points look pretty attractive to me right now.
Stafford Justifies That Huge Contract
Matthew Stafford is the highest paid player in NFL history. This, for a guy that has fewer playoff wins than Tim Tebow. Many were shocked when they heard the number Stafford signed for, but in week one Stafford more than justified the mega-deal. Stafford threw for 292 and four scores, against what has been one of the best secondaries in the NFL over the last several seasons.
The Lions came back from a 10-0 deficit and ran away with the game late as they held a 35-17 lead with just over a minute left in the game when the Cardinals scored a meaningless touchdown. It was a great performance out of the Lions. To make matters worse for the Cardinals they lost all-world running back David Johnson for what looks like to be most of the rest of the season.
It’s funny how the NFL works sometimes. Coming into this week, the Cardinals were looking like one of the better teams in the NFL with an elite running back and defense. Now just one week later that defense looks vulnerable and their running game is now in the hands of some guy named Kerwyn Williams. Arizona is laying -8.5 next week against a Colts team that looked completely lost without Andrew Luck in week one, but one must wonder if this Cardinals team should be laying that kind of wood against anyone on the road at this point.
Other Scores From Around the League
As we close out week one, there are a couple other scores I want to touch on. The Steelers looked very mediocre against what should be a bad Browns team, failing to cover the 10 points and barely hanging on to win the game 21-18. Proving once again if you can get ten points or more as a home underdog you should almost always take it.
The Oakland Raiders, or should we start calling them the Las Vegas Raiders? Either way, the Raiders went into Tennessee as 2.5 underdogs and took the game outright 26-16. Derek Carr looked solid, and Marshawn Lynch was Marshawn Lynch as the Raiders held on for a big road win.
The Philadelphia Eagles went on the road against the division rival Washington Redskins and used a strong fourth quarter to pull away and win 30-17, easily covering the 1.5 spread. Wentz looked good for Philly, and the Eagles defense completely shut down the Washington running game to the tune of just 64 yards on the day.
The Texans were favored by 6 points in this one, and after this performance, they might not be favored in another game for a while. The Texans thought Brock Osweiler was bad, that was before they saw Tom Savage play. Savage got sacked six times early on, and the Texans quickly turned to rookie Deshaun Watson who didn’t have much better luck against this ferocious looking Jags D. The Jags are home underdogs next week against the Titans, and we will find out if this young upstart team is for real.
Are the LA Rams good? I can’t tell if they looked really good or the Colts just looked really bad. Either way, the Rams are 1-0 after a 46-9 drubbing of the Colts. Jared Goff kinda sorta looked like a guy that deserved to be picked number one overall and that defense scored multiple times. We should know more after next week as the Rams are small home favorites against the Redskins.
The Niner offense looks pretty terrible, and I’m not sure they win four games this year. Carolina is laying a big number next week against the Bills at home, I’m curious to see how they look against a team that isn’t going to just lay down and die like San Fran did this week.
In the last game of the week, the Denver Broncos were cruising to what looked like an easy week one victory against the San Diego, sorry the Los Angeles Chargers. With a 24-7 lead late, it was going to be a for sure cover for the home favorites. Not so fast! The Chargers came storming back and if it wasn’t for a blocked last-second field goal they might have found themselves on the losing side of this one. In the end, it turned out to be a push as the final score was 24-21. A pretty bad beat if you took the Broncos in this one, but I guess you are happy to get your money back after how it finished up.
Good luck betting this week and I will see you next week with a week two recap!