NFL Week 1 betting nuggets: Top trends to watch

    Works at ESPN Stats & Information

As we get ready to kick off the 2021 NFL season, we take a look around the league to spotlight some historical against the spread and over/under notes heading into Week 1 matchups. How will Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fare as they open the season as defending champions? On the AFC side of it, Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns will look to make a statement against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Underdogs in division games in Week 1 are 26-9-3 ATS since 2013. This is relevant to the Houston Texans (+3) and the Miami Dolphins (+2.5). Additionally, over the past two seasons, quarterbacks making their first career start are 18-6 ATS, so keep your eyes on the New York Jets (+5), Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) and the New England Patriots (-2.5).

In fact, Trevor Lawrence is the first first-round QB to be a road favorite in his first start since 2003 (Byron Leftwich). He’s the third rookie since the merger to be a road favorite in Week 1 of his rookie season. The 49ers are just the third team in the last 20 seasons to be a road favorite of at least 7 points following a losing season. The previous two lost outright.

The average over/under for Week 1 games currently sits at 47.6, which would be the highest average O/U for Week 1 games in our dataset (since 1986). The next closest Week 1 average O/U was 46.1 in 2014. Five games have totals in the 50s, the most in Week 1 in that span. Browns-Chiefs has the highest total in a Week 1 game since 2015.


Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5), Thursday at 8:20 ET

Reigning Super Bowl champions are 13-4-3 ATS in Week 1 the year after winning the title, including 9-3-3 in Thursday openers, during the past 20 years. Tom Brady is 3-1-2 ATS in Week 1 following a Super Bowl victory.

Tom Brady is 201-136-7 ATS in his career including the playoffs (.596).

Tampa Bay covered seven of its last nine games last season, including the playoffs.

Dak Prescott went 0-5 ATS as a starter last season. Four of his five starts went over the total, including the final four.

The last five meetings have all gone under the total (since 2011).


Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-6.5), Sunday at 1 ET

Buffalo is 12-4 ATS in Week 1 over the last 16 seasons (3-1 ATS under Sean McDermott).

Buffalo games went 13-5-1 to the over last season (11-4-1 in regular season).

Last season, Pittsburgh started 8-2 ATS but finished 2-5 ATS in its final seven games including the playoffs.

Over the last three seasons, Pittsburgh is 12-3-1 ATS as an underdog (3-1 ATS last season), including 7-2 ATS in Ben Roethlisberger starts.


New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (-5), Sunday at 1 ET

Sam Darnold is 3-5 outright and 2-6 ATS as a favorite (all with the Jets). He has only been a favorite of at least four points once in his career (5-point favorite vs Miami in 2019; team won by 1).

Carolina was 0-3 outright as a home favorite last season.

Over the last two seasons, quarterbacks making their first career start are 18-6 ATS.

Since 2017, the Jets are 10-21-1 ATS on the road.


Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Houston Texans, Sunday at 1 ET

Trevor Lawrence will be a road favorite in his first career start. The last rookie 1st-round pick to be a road favorite in his first career start was Byron Leftwich in 2003 (Jaguars lost as 3-point favorites). Lawrence is the third rookie quarterback to be a road favorite in Week 1 of his rookie season since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, joining Russell Wilson (2012) and Joe Ferguson (1973).

Jacksonville is the first team to be favored in Week 1 after going 1-15 or worse the previous season since the San Diego Chargers in 2001.

This is just the third time in the last 15 seasons Jacksonville has been a road favorite in a division game (first time since 2017).

Over the last two seasons, quarterbacks making their first career start are 18-6 ATS.

Jacksonville is 17-9 ATS in Week 1 all-time, including 4-1 ATS in the last five seasons.

Tyrod Taylor has covered his last five starts including the playoffs, and he is 4-0 ATS since leaving the Bills after the 2017 season.

Underdogs in division games in Week 1 are 46-23-3 ATS in Week 1 since 2009, 26-9-2 ATS since 2013, and 13-5 ATS since 2018.


Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (-3), Sunday at 1 ET

Arizona is 6-3 ATS in games played at 1 ET under Kliff Kingsbury.

All eight Cardinals road games went under the total last season. Overall, Arizona was 11-5 to the under last season.

Tennessee went 12-3-1 to the over last season. The over is 21-4-1 in the regular season in Ryan Tannehill starts since he joined the team.


Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Washington Football Team, Sunday at 1 ET

Six of Justin Herbert’s seven road starts went over the total last season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was 5-2 ATS as a starter last season with Miami. He is 13-7 ATS in the last two seasons.

Washington went 6-2 ATS in its final eight games last season including the playoffs.


Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5), Sunday at 1 ET

The Falcons are the first team since the 2017 Rams to be favored by at least 3.5 points in Week 1 despite winning four or fewer games the previous season.

Atlanta has failed to cover in Week 1 in five straight seasons (1-4 outright).

Atlanta was 1-3 outright and ATS as a favorite last season. Over the last three seasons, Atlanta is 7-15 ATS and 9-13 outright as a favorite.

Philadelphia was 1-7 ATS on the road last season, failing to cover its final six road games.

The last five meetings have all gone under the total (since 2015).


Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday at 1 ET

Indianapolis has lost 7 straight Week 1 games (1-5-1 ATS), and they are 1-10 last 11 Week 1 games (1-9-1 ATS).

Seattle failed to cover in its final six road games last season.

Russell Wilson is 4-1 ATS all-time against Carson Wentz with all five games going under the total.

Indianapolis is 0-3 ATS as a home underdog under Frank Reich.

The under is 24-16 in Carson Wentz starts since 2018 including the playoffs, and the under has hit in six straight games.


Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday at 1 ET

Mike Zimmer is 14-8 ATS in the regular season as a road favorite.

Minnesota failed to cover its last five games as a favorite last season. The over was 7-1-1 when Minnesota was a favorite last season.

Joe Burrow was 3-1 ATS at home last season as the Bengals’ starter.


San Francisco 49ers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions, Sunday at 1 ET

San Francisco is the third team in the last 20 seasons to be a road favorite of at least seven points in Week 1 after having a losing record the year previous. Each of the previous two lost outright (2020 Colts at Jaguars, 2002 Cowboys at Texans).

San Francisco has lost its last five games outright as a favorite. Kyle Shanahan is 7-16-2 ATS as a favorite in the regular season, including 1-7-1 ATS (5-4 outright) as a favorite of at least seven points.

Detroit games have gone over the total in each of the last 10 Week 1 games.


Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5), Sunday at 4:25 ET

Cleveland is 0-15-1 outright in its last 16 Week 1 games (last win: 2004). It’s 4-11-1 ATS in that span in Week 1.

Kansas City has won six straight Week 1 games (5-1 ATS). Overall, the Chiefs are 6-2 outright and ATS in Week 1 under Andy Reid.

Kansas City was 2-9 ATS in its final 11 games last season including playoffs.

Kansas City is 19-8 ATS in September under Andy Reid (11-2 ATS since 2017 and 8-2 ATS with Patrick Mahomes starting).

Baker Mayfield is 9-14 ATS on the road in his career in the regular season, including 3-11 ATS in his last 14 away games.


Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-2.5), Sunday at 4:25 ET

Over the last two seasons, quarterbacks making their first career start are 18-6 ATS.

New England is 7-3-1 ATS in Week 1 since 2010 with three straight covers.

Over the last two seasons, New England is 1-5 outright and ATS as a favorite of four points or fewer.

Miami is 15-5 ATS in its last 20 games as an underdog with four straight covers. Tua Tagovailoa is 3-0 ATS as an underdog.

Underdogs in division games in Week 1 are 46-23-3 ATS in Week 1 since 2009, 26-9-2 ATS since 2013, and 13-5 ATS since 2018.


Denver Broncos (-2.5) at New York Giants, Sunday at 4:25 ET

Denver was the only team in the NFL last season to be an underdog in every game. It is favored in Week 1 this season. Since 2017, Denver is 6-14-2 ATS as a favorite.

New York is 1-9 in its last 10 Week 1 games outright with four straight losses. It is 1-8-1 ATS in that span and has failed to cover four straight seasons.

New York is 5-11 ATS in September since 2017 and 9-18-1 ATS since 2013.

New York is 4-14 ATS as a home underdog in since 2018 (3-4 ATS last season).


Green Bay Packers (-4) vs New Orleans Saints, Sunday at 4:25 ET

New Orleans has gone over the total in Week 1 in seven straight seasons.

New Orleans is 8-2 ATS as an underdog since 2018 and 25-10 ATS since 2014.

Green Bay is 6-1 outright and ATS in September under Matt LaFleur, including 3-0 last season.


Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5), Sunday at 8:20 ET

Matt Nagy is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS in his career as a 7 or more point underdog. The Bears haven’t won a game outright as a 7 or more point underdog since Sept. 24, 2017 against the Steelers under John Fox.

Matthew Stafford hasn’t been at least a 7-point favorite since Week 1 of 2018 against the Jets (-7). The Jets beat Stafford’s Lions 48-17.

Andy Dalton is 9-14 ATS in games starting at 7 ET or later. He is 1-5 ATS and 0-6 outright in Sunday night games.

Matt Nagy is 3-9 ATS as an underdog of at least 4.5 points including playoffs.

This is the fourth straight season these two teams will meet with Matt Nagy and Sean McVay as head coaches. The previous three times, the under hit each time, with the games averaging 26.3 points per game.

Sean McVay is 37-26-2 ATS in his career (regular season).


Baltimore Ravens (-4.5) at Las Vegas Raiders, Monday at 8:15 ET on ESPN

Baltimore has covered in Week 1 in five straight seasons.

Lamar Jackson is 13-3-2 ATS in his career on the road (15-3 outright).

Baltimore has covered five straight regular-season games as a favorite. Las Vegas has covered four of its last five games as an underdog.

Overs were 13-3 in Las Vegas games last season with five straight overs to end the season. Seven of their eight home games went over the total, including all six games when Las Vegas was a home underdog.

Las Vegas was 1-5 ATS in its final six games last season.

Lamar Jackson is 6-2 outright and ATS in primetime games in the regular season. Jon Gruden is 6-3 ATS in primetime games in his current tenure, including 6-1 ATS in his last seven games.

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