By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
The NFL is back, and Week 1 of the season started off with a bang with upsets and unders galore. But not everything is what it seems, hence the term Overreaction Monday.
After watching every game and digging into the stats, let’s break down some of what I learned from Week 1. Here are my four betting lessons for fans and gamblers heading into Week 2.
1. Ignore the slow starts
The Rams didn’t score in the second half at home; the 49ers couldn’t get into Bears territory on their final four drives; the Packers were blanked in the first half. But context matters.
As Aaron Rodgers famously said, R-E-L-A-X.
I didn’t love the Rams coming into this season because they have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. That said, the season-opening result came against the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills. Los Angeles is a big favorite against Atlanta this week, so look for the Rams to get their first win of the year.
The Packers sputtered on offense, but that was without both starting tackles and their top receiver, Allen Lazard. They went 3-for-9 on third downs and 0-2 on fourth. Green Bay largely looked inept on the road, but it was closer than the final score indicated. If the Packers rookie wideout Christian Watson doesn’t drop a wide-open touchdown or Green Bay gets in from the one, we would be having a much different conversation. More importantly, do you remember how the Packers lost 38-3 in Week 1 last year before going on to snag the No. 1 seed in the NFC? Green Bay should get back on track this week against Chicago.
Lastly, we have the Niners. They played in a monsoon against the Bears, and their young QB Trey Lance also lost his top RB in the first half. Overall, the 49ers wasted a 10-0 lead, and Lance looked lost. But I’ll be betting all three favorites this week to bounce back and look like the Super Bowl contenders we know them to be.
2. Primetime Unders are a thing
The NFL had three terrific primetime matchups in Week 1, and every game went under the total. Three more primetime games are coming up on Sunday and Monday, and we might see more of the same this week.
Money has poured in on the under in Chicago-Green Bay, plummeting from 45.5 to 41.5. Under money also showed in Tennessee–Buffalo, dropping the number from 51.5 to 48.5. But the Eagles–Vikings could blow that up.
The Eagles’ defense struggled badly last season against good QBs and wants to run the football and control the clock. Minnesota’s defense was surprisingly impressive against the Packers last week, holding Aaron Rodgers to seven points. I’m still taking the under in this one. Let’s go for the clean sweep.
3. Trust your eyes: Dallas is very bad
The least impressive team in the NFL in Week 1 wasn’t my Jets, certainly wasn’t the Texans, and Seattle won! Shocker, but it was the Dallas Cowboys — the only team that didn’t score a touchdown. It was the Dallas Cowboys, who were the only team not to get into the red zone. It was the Dallas Cowboys, the team that registered only one explosive play (20+ yards), the fewest in the NFL.
Sure, they were playing Tampa’s fierce defense, but without Dak Prescott, a banged-up offensive line, and a criminally overrated defense last year, it will be a long year for the Cowboys. I’m a big data guy, but this is one instance I am trusting my eyes.
4. Beware the depth of the Buffalo Bills‘ defensive line.
Perhaps the wildest defensive stat from the first week was that the Bills blitzed Matthew Stafford just once. But they registered the most sacks (7), second most QB knockdowns in Week 1 (7), and fourth most pressures (15).
Buffalo upgraded its defensive line in the offseason, adding Von Miller and Daquan Jones, and they’ve drafted well the last two years (Greg Rousseau, AJ Epenesa, Boogie Basham). If you want to bet on the Bills this season, you will be paying a tax because they’re probably the most complete team in the NFL. And their ability to rotate linemen and keep pressure all game long — who can forget the lack of pressure in the fourth quarter against Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs last year — will lead to some dominant fourth quarters and prevent teams from coming in the back door.
Jason McIntyre is a FOX Sports betting analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, “Coming Up Winners,” in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010.
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Source: FOX Sports