10 NFL betting lessons of Week 1 from Matt Youmans

379
 

10 betting lessons learned from Week 1

A seven-month honeymoon ended Sunday night, when things got ugly early for Brian Daboll, Daniel Jones and the Giants. The reigning NFL Coach of the Year and his $40 million-a-year quarterback were the toast of the New York media during the offseason. Yet when the season started, the toast quickly turned into a roast.

 

Top NFL Resources:

The Dallas defense scored twice in the first quarter — on a 58-yard blocked field goal return and 22-yard interception return – to put the Giants in a 16-0 hole that would only get deeper. It was a humbling night for Daboll, who soaked in all the praise for months before getting spanked 40-0 by Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, who’s usually the butt of the jokes.

The Giants finished Daboll’s first season 9-7-1 and won a wild-card playoff game at Minnesota, which was a phony 13-win team. Daboll’s aggressive style made the difference as the Giants thrived in one-score games and reached the playoffs despite a 1-4-1 record in the NFC East. Daboll was on a lucky roll, but gamblers know all about luck running out and regression becoming reality.

“The Giants were all smoke and mirrors last year,” said VSiN analyst Will Hill, who attributed Daboll’s debut season to a weak schedule plus “really good luck and good coaching.”

Hill is not right about all New York teams — he’s holding a World Series futures bet on the Yankees — but he was on target by predicting the Giants’ downfall against the Cowboys. He’s also right about Daboll, who did an outstanding coaching job in 2022 before wearing a dunce cap in the rain-soaked season opener.

Of course, this is Overreaction Monday. No teams are as good or as bad as they appear in Week 1. It’s obviously premature to put the Cowboys in the Super Bowl in Las Vegas and send the Giants to the sewer in Newark. Still, it’s foolish to shrug off a 40-point beating as just one bad day.

The Giants have big problems on their offensive line. Jones was sacked seven times and threw two interceptions in the face of relentless pressure. An errant shotgun snap and 14-yard loss led to the ill-fated field-goal attempt that was blocked and returned the distance. It got worse from there. The embarrassment is pinned on Daboll, whose team was unprepared. Jones, who signed a four-year, $160 million extension in March, had no chance in this one.

Dak Prescott is now 11-0 in starts against the Giants, but this one was not about the Cowboys quarterback being great or McCarthy calling all the right shots. Prescott completed 13 of 24 passes for 143 yards as the Dallas offense produced only 265 total yards.

While handicappers and the media turn on Daboll and the Giants, who attracted a fair amount of sharp betting support as 3-point home underdogs, they will get an opportunity to bounce back at Arizona in Week 2.

Betting against the media-hyped Cowboys is not the brightest idea, mainly due to a Micah Parsons-led Dallas defense that might be the league’s best, and that’s one of 10 betting lessons to take away from Week 1.

The Eagles, who got a lucky win and cover, tend to look ordinary on the road.

Philadelphia was a public side, and arguably the wrong side, but the Eagles covered the closing line of 3.5 in a gift-wrapped 25-20 win at New England. The Patriots committed two turnovers and had three straight three-and-outs on their first five drives while falling behind 16-0.

Las Vegas sportsbooks took a hit on the Eagles’ cover. Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said the day was a “small winner” for his book. “I liked the Patriots +4 a lot,” Murray said. “We really needed the Patriots, and that would have swung the day into a very nice win for us.”

Mac Jones put the ball in the air 54 times and passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots outgained the defending NFC champions 382-251. With 3:37 remaining, a two-point conversion run by Jones was wiped out by a penalty, and his pass fell incomplete on the second attempt.

It was an aggravating result for New England backers. As VSiN host Mitch Moss tweeted on X: “The Eagles absolutely unequivocally should not have covered, nor should they have won the game.”

The Eagles were not so hot on the road last year when they narrowly beat the Bears, Lions, Cardinals and Colts, so pay attention to that trend.

The preseason means little, and Brock Purdy is not Tom Brady, but he is legit.

Murray said sharp money showed strongest on the Patriots, Raiders, Browns, Buccaneers and Steelers. Three of the five won and covered. Pittsburgh, which went 3-0 and impressed everyone in August, looked lost from the start and trailed 20-0 to the 49ers midway through the second quarter.

Purdy, labeled “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last pick of the 2022 draft, is allowing San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan to mostly forget about his disastrous trade up to No. 3 overall for Trey Lance in 2021. After going 5-0 as a rookie, Purdy passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns in a remarkable performance at Pittsburgh. He spent several months rehabbing a right elbow injury that left doubts about his future. Now, there should be no doubt he’s a winner.

Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was picked off twice in the 30-7 loss, and coach Mike Tomlin’s record as a home ‘dog dropped to 15-5-3. Pittsburgh opened as a 3-point underdog over the summer and closed +1, but the sharp money never had a shot.

It’s only one win, but there’s a lot to Love about the new-look Packers.

Is Jordan Love the next Jalen Hurts? The comparison is a stretch, at least for now. Hurts developed into a star and the Eagles were last year’s surprise team in the NFC. I do believe the Packers can be this season’s surprise team, which is why I bet Green Bay Over 7.5 wins and to win the NFC North at +500.

It was a positive start for Love, who passed for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-20 win at Chicago. The Bears, 1-point favorites, are stuck with an 11-game losing streak and no apparent relief from the absence of Aaron Rodgers, who left with a 25-5 record in the rivalry.

Mission accomplished: The Commanders’ season is a success.

Daniel Snyder is out of the league, and the team he once owned is 1-0. Washington was a 7-point home favorite against Arizona, which is considered the league’s worst team by a wide margin, and barely escaped with a 20-16 win. It was ugly. It also was predictable.

Mike Palm, vice president of operations at Circa, was perched in the sportsbook when he made this comment before kickoff: “It’s going to be a one-score game. You’re going to have to sweat it out.”

Palm was referring to the Circa Survivor contest in which the Commanders were the most popular pick. There were 9,267 entries in the contest, and 21 percent of the field was eliminated, with the Vikings (1,044) and Seahawks (600) doing the most damage by losing as home favorites. I survived with Washington but had to sweat it out, and don’t want to count on that team again. The Commanders stink and will fight it out with the Giants for third place in the NFC East.

Sean Payton is a big coaching upgrade, but the Broncos are not much better.

Russell Wilson’s debut season in Denver was a disaster as the Broncos finished 2022 with the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense at 16.9 points per game. Wilson looked a little better Sunday, completing 27 of 34 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, but he ran for only one yard in a 17-16 loss to the Raiders.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s 8-yard run on third-and-7 sealed the win for Las Vegas as a 3-point road ‘dog. The Raiders made a few costly mistakes, including a Garoppolo pick in the end zone, but did enough to beat Denver for the seventh straight time.

Payton should get his first win with Denver in Week 2, when the Commanders come to town, but Wilson’s offense needs to start clearing that low 17-point hurdle.

It’s foolish to trust the Chargers as home favorites.

Justin Herbert passed for 228 yards, accounted for two touchdowns and the Chargers struck for 433 yards of total offense. The bad news is the Los Angeles defense allowed 536 yards, including 466 passing yards by Tua Tagovailoa, in a 36-34 loss to the Dolphins.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley got a lot of credit for taking away the middle of the field and designing a defensive scheme that forced Tagovailoa into his worst performance as a pro in last year’s meeting between the teams. Staley lost his magic touch. It was the same old story for the Chargers, who flopped as 3-point favorites and are 6-8-1 ATS as home favorites in Staley’s three seasons. In the Circa Survivor contest, 33 entries went down with the Chargers.

Bet against the guy who just signed a record-setting contract.

Slow starts are nothing new to Joe Burrow and the Bengals, who lost to the Steelers and Cowboys to open last season before rallying to finish 12-4. This time, two days after getting a five-year, $275 million extension, Burrow passed for a career-low 82 yards in a 24-3 loss at Cleveland.

Burrow missed most of training camp with a calf injury, and it showed. He was one of eight starting quarterbacks in Week 1 who did not play a preseason game — for the record, the other seven went 5-2 straight up and ATS. (Prescott, Hurts, Jared Goff, Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford were the winners; Herbert and Kirk Cousins the other losers.)

Burrow will bounce back. Will bettors overreact to Cleveland’s dominant win and Pittsburgh’s lopsided loss? The Browns hit the road to play the Steelers next Monday.

The Titans are not bad, but their quarterback play was terrible.

I bet Tennessee Over 7.5 wins and to win the AFC South at +400. I still like the bets, yet quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s play in a 16-15 loss at New Orleans was troubling. Tannehill went 16-for-34 for 198 yards passing with three picks. The Titans, who had the league’s No. 1 run defense last year, held the Saints to 69 yards on 27 carries.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel was roasted for opting for a field goal on fourth-and-6 from the 11 with 2:20 to go and his team trailing 16-12. I approved of Vrabel’s decision, mostly because I bet Tennessee +3 and needed the points to cover. The surprising decision did make some sense. Tannehill was unlikely to make a play to convert the fourth down, and Vrabel was banking on his defense to get a stop and give the Titans a shot to win with another field goal. Instead, Derek Carr hit a deep pass to clinch the win.

The Saints were unimpressive. While the Titans still will grind out several ugly wins, they need Tannehill to show up.

Despite a knee injury, Brent Musburger has not lost a step as a handicapper.

The VSiN host and legendary broadcaster was sidelined for his Sunday pregame show after injuring a knee while getting off the couch Saturday night. Musburger, like Burrow, will bounce back. Musburger is already a winner. He went 2-1 on the three plays he sent in Sunday — Browns, Steelers and Raiders.

And here’s a final thought on overreactions to Week 1 results. The Patriots opened the 2003 season with a 31-0 loss at Buffalo as Tom Brady threw four interceptions. New England ended that regular season with a 31-0 victory over the Bills, as Brady passed for four touchdowns, and went on to win the Super Bowl.