The 3 Most Popular NFL Bets for Week 1
Week 1 is without a doubt one of the best weeks of the entire NFL season. It's not just the euphoria that comes with the return of the highest level of football, but it's one of the eight weeks in which we have zero teams on bye, so we get a full slate of games.
The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears battled it out on Thursday Night Football, with Green Bay getting the win and covering as underdogs in the process. The under won out for the minority (34%) who opted for a less exciting contest.
Sunday and Monday provide plenty more opportunity to get in on the action at FanDuel Sportsbook. This week, we have 15 games on tap, including three primetime clashes and only two with a spread greater than one touchdown.
But which games and lines are getting the most action? Thanks to numberFire's new oddsFire tool, we can see exactly that -- where the public is laying the most bets and what percentage of money is on which team and which side of the total.
Using oddsFire as our guide, let's dive into the three lines (one spread, one moneyline, one over/under) getting the most love with the goal of deciding whether the numbers support or contradict the public's heavy investment.
After opening at Baltimore -4, the line has increased by 2.5 points, with 91% of bets and an even larger share of the money (96%) being laid on Lamar Jackson and company. And that, my friends, is no surprise. Jackson and the Ravens are an up-and-coming team with a young, exciting quarterback, while the Miami Dolphins head toward a tank job behind some combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Just recently, the Dolphins shipped out tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills primarily for future draft picks.
Meanwhile, many expect great things from Jackson under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Add in a top-three defense and you get the 10th-ranked team in our preseason power rankings -- 22 spots ahead of the Dolphins.
According to Killer Sports' historical trends, the matchups bodes well for the purple and black, as Baltimore's taken 9 of 15 straight up versus Miami and 10 of 15 with the points. They have covered in each of the last eight head-to-head meetings, but the line makes this one tricky. Teams have covered just 48.8% of the time in games they have been favored by five or more on the road, and Baltimore has done so in just 9 of 23 games going back to 2000. However, since the 2017 season, teams have covered 56.1% of the time in these situations, including a 53.3% cover rate when the spread is between 5.5 and 9.5.
This Dolphins team could end up being historically bad, so the public is wise to go with the visiting Ravens by a touchdown.
Believe it or not, the Philadelphia Eagles don't own the most lopsided moneyline of the week. That right goes to the Seattle Seahawks, who are -430 for a straight-up win at home against the A.J. Green-less Cincinnati Bengals. But in spite of that (or maybe because of it), the Eagles have drawn the highest percentage of bets (91%) as well as the third-highest share (95%) of money for either side of any one game.
Heading into the year with a 9.5-win total and the fifth-best odds to win the Super Bowl, Philadelphia is the only double-digit favorite out there to open the season. The spread has widened from 8.5 at the open to 10.0 at FanDuel Sportsbook and most other books. The moneyline has followed, jumping from -389 to -420 -- and as short as -549 elsewhere. The odds on FanDuel are still relatively nice all things considered.
One of those things to consider is Philadelphia's record at home under Doug Pederson. Since he took over as coach in 2016 the Eagles are 20-6 overall at home, including 15-4 as favorites. They've won both of their home games in which they've been favored by 10 or more, winning those by a combined 51 points and covering by a combined 24. I think they're good to get past Washington, the fifth-worst team in our power rankings and the same one that's winless in their last four meetings with Philly.
Last year, the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints combined for an average of 56.6 points per game, and this year our metrics expect more of the same. These two Week 1 opponents are ranked 3rd and 13th in offense, per our numbers, even with a season-ending injury to Lamar Miller.
It makes sense then to see the masses flocking to the over on this Monday night matchup, that is after watching the initial total fall from 54. The over is now drawing 80% of the money across 74% of bets, and those will likely rise unless this reaches the 54- to 55-point territory once again.
In addition to being two of the NFL's top-11 scoring offenses, last year both teams ranked in the top half of the league in plays per game. According to Team Rankings, Houston ran 65.2 plays per game, compared to 63.6 for New Orleans.
That all sounds promising, but you know what doesn't? In 2018, the Saints saw the over hit just 7 times in 18 games while it did so at a mere 36.4% clip in the 11 contests that were given a 53.5-point total or lower. The over won out in 7 of the Texans' 17 matchups, with their games averaging a total of 43.9 points -- nearly a point below the average over/under. That number was higher on the road, but only twice in eight games did they surpass 51 points.
Before betting this total, it would be wise to pause and let the public play into the storyline of a clash between high-octane offenses.