Opening week of the NFL season is something akin to the Super Bowl in terms of excitement, particularly in betting circles. Bettors and bookmakers alike froth at the mouth awaiting to see how they will fare when the pads really start popping and the action on the field is devoid of Bobby Boucher types.
Week 1 typically leans in favor of the house as the public lands hard and heavy on teams laying points (i.e. spotting the other team), but this year, books took it on the chin with no fewer than eight favorites covering the number.
The two teams delivering the most uncomfortable shots to the odds makers were the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins. Aaron Rodgers and his cohorts closed as a -7 favorite against their NFC North rivals the Chicago Bears while the Fins were a -4 favorite visiting the Washington Redskins. 80% of the public money was on Green Bay while 90% threw their hard earned cash at Ndamukong Suh and company.
Both clubs induced more than a few choice words and gastrointestinal pains from their backers with each trailing at the break and, in the case of Miami, into the fourth quarter.
The Packers insured a cover with a touchdown run from Eddie Lacy inside the two-minute mark, putting them up 31-16. The situation for those in the Dolphins corner was even more dire, though. A 69-yard punt return for a touchdown put Miami up 17-10 with 10:22 remaining in the final frame.
Talk about puckering up…that is an eternity for any football bettor to wait in a tightly contested game with a spread inside of seven points. But at the end of the day, the score held and it was the house left holding the bag (or emptying it in this case).
Also putting a damper on things for the ‘Man’ were the Chiefs, Jets, Panthers, Cardinals, Bengals and Broncos. Kansas City, drawing 57-percent of the betting share, won outright as a 1.5 underdog at Houston while New York obliterated its -3 line with a 31-10 win over the Browns. The Jets were receiving 70% of the money from the public.
Carolina, Arizona, Cincinnati and Denver all covered as well and they each drew 54% or more of the betting share.
The bloody Sunday was somewhat mitigated by the Rams, Bills and Giants. Buffalo and St. Louis scored outright underdog wins over Indianapolis and Seattle, respectively. They earned the house’s kiss of approval in doing so with the Colts and Seahawks getting the lion’s share of the public’s money (73% and 60%). The Giants did not get a ‘W’, but they won over the hearts of bookmakers, easily covering the six points they were given by Dallas, which had ensnared a large number of wayward bettors.
Potential line changers as the season forges ahead to Week 2 and beyond:
A boy named Suh. Yes, the aforementioned Ndamukong. The former Nebraska standout has been fined over $200,000 in his relatively brief NFL career and he is in danger of increasing that total after yesterday’s meeting with Washington. Suh leveled what appeared to be an intentional kick to the head of running back Alfred Morris. If the league deems Suh committed the act on purpose, he could be looking at a suspension as well as a fine. Should Suh have to sit out, the lines will be tight in a place already known for such things.
Buyer’s Remorse? Tampa Bay might be wishing for a draft redo after Sunday’s meeting with the Titans. The Bucs dropped a stink bomb so potent it had wafted its way to the shores of North Africa by the late afternoon and rookie signal caller Jameis Winston, taken with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, was seen lighting the fuse. Conversely, Winston’s counterpart, Marcus Mariota, turned in one of the more memorable debut performances by a rookie quarterback, completing 13-of-16 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns.
It was an eye opening effort from the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and one that surely got the attention of the odds makers. Tennessee entered its meeting with the Bucs a +3 road dog, but the spread will experience George Constanza like shrinkage if he continues to produce similar numbers going forward.
The Shirt. Mariota may not have been the only star born yesterday. Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor, a veteran of four NFL seasons, made the most of his first career NFL start, leading the Bills to a 27-14 win over the favored Colts.
credits to Buffalo Bills Twitter account (@buffalobills)
Taylor played so well (14-of-19, 195 yards, one touchdown), head coach Rex Ryan asked to film his feet after the game. But Taylor’s post-game wardrobe overshadowed his performance. The Bills official Twitter account called it Swag, but most anyone else who saw it thought Taylor had mistakenly made a trip down Electric Avenue.
The Infirmary. It was full after Sunday’s slate with household names littering the M.A.S.H unit. Terrell Suggs, Luke Kuechly, Derek Carr, DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant, just to name a few, were among those to leave games and not return. Suggs will miss the remainder of the year with a ruptured Achilles and the rest of that list could be looking at a significant amount of missed time as well.
Notable Early Week 2 Lines:
The Tennessee Titans anywhere from +2.5 to +1 at Cleveland. The odds makers are not completely sold on Mariota … not yet anyway. He will face a stinger defense in the Browns and while Cleveland got its nose bloodied by the Jets (31-10), the wide margin was reflective of its five turnovers, not a poor stop unit. If Mariota slices and dices the Browns, keep a close eye on the line when the Titans welcome the Colts to Nashville in Week 3.