Tom Gable, Director of Race & Sports at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, provides our readers with insider tips and strategies for making the most of their sports betting ventures. This week, Tom is reflecting on Week 1 of football and setting expectations for Week 2 of the NFL season.
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and the most popular sport to bet on in America returned in a big way. With no preseason this year, and only some limited reports coming out of training camps, bettors and bookmakers alike were scrambling for any information they could gather on teams prior to the season kicking off September 10. While one week of games doesn’t give us any sample size of substance, let’s look at a few things to focus on as we move into Week 2:
The defending Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs, opened the season with a 14-point victory over a Houston Texans team predicted to struggle in the first half of this season due to their difficult schedule. The Chiefs covered the spread and looked as dominant as they did throughout the playoffs last year. The team will be a betting favorite throughout the season with the public. This week they are 8 1/2 point favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers (please check your sports book for current lines and point spreads before you bet) and already there is a lot of public money on the Chiefs to cover the spread in Week 2. Any team hoping to stay close to the Chiefs this year will have to contain last season’s MVP, Patrick Mahomes. The Chargers escaped Week 1 with a 3-point win over the lowly Cincinnati Bengals due to a missed field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
A must watch Week 2 match-up will be between two teams categorized as underdogs in their Week 1 games and both walked away with a win. The Washington football team travel to Arizona to face the upstart Cardinals. The Cardinals were 7-point underdogs to last year’s NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers heading into last week’s game. The Cardinals showed they can play with the best of the NFC. Major contributors to this win were an improved Kyler Murray at quarterback and two of the best wide receivers in football: Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins (picked up in a trade in the off season). The Cardinals were a team that sharp bettors were targeting in the futures markets to win their division. The sharps piled on in Week 1 to cash tickets when they handed the 49ers a loss. Their opponent in Week 2, the Washington football team, upset the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 with sharp money coming in on Washington right before kick-off.
Inevitably, there will be an underdog team (or two, or three) that wins undoubtedly every week in the NFL. When looking for underdogs that may win , always seek out at home underdogs. Pulling off an upset at home (even with no or limited fans) is always easier than doing it on the road. Another tip to consider early in the season (and with no preseason, looms even larger) is to look at continuity within teams regarding new head coaches/staffs. It may take a few weeks for a team to really understand new game plans and schemes that result from a new staff.