top of page
  • Writer's pictureAvoid the Vig

How to Bet - NFL Week 1

When betting NFL week 1, there are some unique considerations that need to be accounted for when handicapping games. Below is not an exhaustive list, nor is it a list that should be bet blind, but the following is compilation of underutilized angles to bet NFL Week 1.

Bet Early

Unlike the rest of the regular season, the sharps have had the end of spring and the entire summer to gobble up any line value in NFL Week 1. Unless there is new or unaccounted for information, betting the weekend of first week is a monumental task. Bet early.

The Preseason Story

Many pundits state that the preseason should be taken with a grain of salt and that no one should take anything actionable away from these meaningless games. Yet the public tends to overreact to what they see from these same games. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Not everything good is actionable and not everything bad is insignificant. For instance, a starting quarterback that throws five straight interceptions in practice and then comes out and puts a 0 QBR in the preseason is noteworthy. A third string quarterback leading the team back to victory two games in a row is a fun story, but probably not impactful to any regular or post season game. When it comes to the preseason, don't over or underreact.

No Preseason

Identify quarterbacks that have had zero or limited preseason action. These quarterbacks have a tendency to show some rust. If you can find the rare situations where these quarterbacks are actually playing one another, fire on the under.

Bet Divisional Dogs

Underdogs in week one are 51% ATS since 2005. However, divisional underdogs cover at 60% clip. Never make any bet blind, but identifying divisional dogs is a great place to start a handicap.

Dogs of +7.5 or More

Underdogs of +7.5 or greater are 11-4 ATS since 2010. A small sample size but the percentage of 73% needs to be accounted for.

Super Bowl Participants

Since 2000, Super Bowl Champions are 16-3 straight up and 12-5-2 against the spread. Since 2000, Super Bowl Losers are 7-13 straight up and 5-15 against the spread. Look to bet the champs and fade the losers.

Teams that Missed the Playoffs

In the last 89 decisions, when two teams that miss the playoffs the previous year go head-to-head in Week 1, the under hits 58% of the time.

Wait Until October

Bill Belichick has the second best against the spread record among active coaches in the NFL. However, September is his lowest percentage standing at a still impressive 53% rate. Much has been made about Bill Belichick using September as a learning opportunity and an extension of the preseason for his players. He has been known to make decisions that potentially lower his chance to win the game in order to set his team up for a championship. For those looking to bet the Patriots, fear not! Since Bill Belichick has joined the Patriots, they are 66% against the spread in the month of October.

Fade the Line Moves

Most of the NFL Week 1 line moves are in reaction to public money. Find the trendy teams or moves that run counter to the aforementioned keys and look to fade it the day of the game.


Regardless of what happens after Week 1, be assured that the public will overreact. That is not to say the lines and power ratings won't be greatly impacted by the week's performances. In fact, there is double the impact of this week's games than any other week during the football season. With that being said, the public will react too strongly. Stick with your preseason power rating, analyze the games, and adjust accordingly without getting caught up in the overreaction.



bottom of page