The NFL is back and preseason Week 1 is in the books, giving thirsty sports bettors their first in-game glimpses of their favorite teams, including some highly anticipated rookie debuts. Many starters only participated in a series or two – if at all – but that didn’t dissuade bettors from getting their first tastes of NFL action in over 6 months.
Unsurprisingly, the hot money in NFL bettors’ freshly replenished bankrolls was swiftly burning a hole in their pockets, as approximately $1.6M was cumulatively bet across the slate on what are essentially practice games with third-stringers operating from a watered down playbook.
The betting public went 7-9 on the week (using ticket count as a proxy for broad public preference), resulting in a -2.9% return, conservatively assuming the same bet size for all games. Except for a few moments here and there, none of these games were especially entertaining – but we saw just enough for fan bases to salivate and predictably overreact to flashes of excellence, with Daniel Jones surely receiving the biggest market bump off a very low base. More sophisticated bettors will temper their expectations, realizing this is preseason football and no team or player is as good or bad as they seem.
Jets 22 (-2 moved to -2.5) v. Giants 31
- $119K was bet, with 53% of the cash and 55% of the tickets coming in on the Jets.
- S. Darnold’s first pass was almost an INT, but he recovered and led a 7-play 75 yard drive for a TD. Jets bettors celebrated prematurely, as underappreciated rookie D. Jones proceeded to go 5/5 and 67 yards, throwing one of the week’s most impressive TD passes to B. Fowler in the corner of the endzone.
Colts 16 (+2 moved to -1.5) v. Bills 24
- $114K was bet, with 76% of the cash coming in on the Colts, but 55% of the tickets on the Bills. The steam from +2 to -1.5 turned out to be all smoke and mirrors.
- Josh Allen’s imprecise accuracy doesn’t seem to have improved over the offseason, but the Bills D-line was very aggressive, bringing lots of pressure and successfully disguising their blitz packages.
Eagles (-4 moved to -1.5) 10 v. Titans 27
- $48K was bet, with 72% of the cash on the Titans, but with 53% of the tickets on the Eagles.
- Sharps hammered this line lower and lower over the week, and the public ate it all.
- A. Humphries looks poised to be M. Mariota’s J. Edleman in ’19; was targeted six times.
Patriots 31 v. Lions (+3 moved to -2.5) 3
- $114K was bet, with 83% of the cash and 51% of the tickets on the Lions.
- Both the public and the sharps were convinced the Lions were going to play much better than they did, moving the opening line an incredible 5+ points.
- T. Brady didn’t play (as expected), but NC State rookie WR Jakobi Meyers balled out, scoring two TDs (and supposedly developing a strong chemistry with Brady as well).
Redskins 10 v. Browns (-4 moved to -1.5) 30
- $59K was bet, with 60% of the cash on the Skins and 51% of the tickets on the Browns.
- This was one of the most lightly traded games of the week, but big bets moved the line almost 3 points in favor of the Skins. Sharps whiffed on this one.
- Rookie QB D. Haskins had 2 INTs, including a pick six. Meanwhile the Skins O-line was getting eaten up – getting 4 holding penalties over 4 straight plays.
Falcons 27 v. Dolphins (-3.5 moved to -4) 34
- $74K was bet, with 77% of the cash and 62% of the tickets on the Dolphins.
- PFF ranks the Dolphins’ O-line as the worst in the NFL, and this game further substantiated that claim.
- Lots of scoring from non-starters. Rookie M. Gaskins scored two TDs for the Dolphins and showed promise.
Jaguars 0 v. Ravens (-2.5 moved to -3.5) 29
- $102K was bet, with 68% of the cash and tickets on the Ravens.
- No N. Foles or L. Fournette, but the Jags offense looks like it could end up fairly pedestrian.
- Ravens got pressure on D and ran their L. Jackson special on O, but the schematic of it all is too predictable. We continue to be bearish on the Ravens, and re-iterate our call on under 8.5 wins for the season.
Texans 26 v. Packers (-3 moved to -1) 28
- $62K was bet, with 51% of the cash on the Packers and 62% of the tickets on the Texans.
- Heavy public action on the Texans crushed the line down to 1. If you got the line early, you cashed, but if you were late to Texans steam move, your money evaporated. Closing line value bettors on the Packers cashed tickets.
- Packers starting defense was tough and made the right plays.
Panthers 23 v. Bears (-4 moved to -3) 13
- $43K was bet, with 53% of the cash and 60% of the tickets on the Bears.
- Iowa State rookie RB D. Montgomery flashed brilliance, agility, and vision; dude is the Bears next M. Forte (pass, catch, do-it-all back).
- Bears starting defense looked hungry, angry, and ready to get going.
Chargers 13 v. Cardinals (-1.5 moved to -3) 17
- $115K was bet, with 71% of the cash and 56% of the tickets on the Cards.
- The public and sharps moved this line almost two points, and both still cashed tickets.
- K. Murray looked smooth in his one series, emulating a raw R. Wilson.
- A. Ekkler was doing well, but then fumbled on the goal line, demonstrating he may indeed be too small to carry the full load, but J. Jackson may offer the 1-2 punch the Chargers need to tell M. Gordon to peace out.
Broncos (+2 moved to -2.5) 14 v. Seahawks 22
- $120K was bet, with 63% of the cash on the Broncos and 58% of the tickets on the Seahawks.
- Heavy sharp money on the Broncos moved the line more than four points, taking them from underdogs to favorites. The line move was unwarranted, and the books took home their biggest win of the week on the Seahawks.
- Broncos starting O-line played well, but the play-calling became predictable, either run or play action/dump off.
- Seahawks starting D-line struggled v. the run.
Bucs 28 v. Steelers (-3 moved to -2.5) 30
- $109K was bet, with 60% of the cash on the Bucs and 58% of the tickets on the Steelers.
- The sharp move on the Bucs proved prescient, as the public favorite lost again.
- Bucs opening offensive drive was balanced and beautiful. Runs, passes, down the field throws, and J. Winston runs. New coach B. Arians will get the most out of this Bucs team, and did not even utilize M. Evans, O. Howard or C. Brate. C. Godwin looks like the real deal and 2nd year RB R. Jones is finally showing he has some ability at the NFL level.
- Rookie LB D. Bush is going to be an anchor in the middle for the Steelers.
Vikings 34 v. Saints (-3 moved to -2.5) 25
- $105K was bet, with 54% of the cash on the Vikings and 56% of the tickets on the Saints.
- The sharp move on the Vikings cashed, as the public favorite lost another one.
- Both teams came to play to start this game and both offenses slightly outperformed their defenses.
- K. Cousins looked sharp and the play calling was much stronger on offense than last year.
Bengals 17 v. Chiefs (-5 moved to -3.5) 38
- $107K was bet, with 60% of the cash on the Bengals and 67% of the tickets on the Chiefs.
- This was one of the most lopsided games of sharps v. squares, and the latter finally got their tickets cashed.
- P. Mahomes looked like a god and this Chiefs offense may end up being the best in the league with emerging new speedsters like M. Hardman from UGA.
- Chiefs defense could not get pressure, but stopped run. Bengals went right down the field on the back of T. Boyd and accurate passes by A. Dalton. Bengals could be a sneaky team this year, and we still find value in over 6 wins in the current futures market.
Rams 3 v. Raiders (-2.5 moved to -4.5) 14
- $176K was bet, with 70% of the cash on the Raiders and 55% of the tickets on the Rams.
- The sharps moved this line 2 points in favor of the Raiders, even in spite of public resistance.
- M. Glennon threw two picks, including one in the red zone, and could lose the 2nd string role to N. Peterman, who scampered for a 50 yard run and threw a TD.
Cowboys 9 v. Niners (-3 moved to -3.5) 17
- $132K was bet, with 63% of the cash and 51% of the tickets on the Cowboys.
- The sharps held the line steady in favor of the Niners in spite of the public money and tickets pouring in on the Cowboys. The public backed dogs in the Rams and Cowboys, but taking the points provided no security.
- D. Prescott looked uninspiring, and the Niners look to have two stud rookie WRs in J. Hurd and D. Samuel, both former SEC products, having been well groomed going up against NFL-caliber defenses.