NFL: Betting lessons learned from Week 1 in the NFL

NFL Sports News


  • We charted how favorites and underdogs did in Week 1 of the NFL season.
  • It looks like betting the under is the way to go, especially teams with new QBs.
  • Is there a strategy between how you bet the early games of the day and the late games?

One NFL Sunday down, 17 to go.

The 2023 season started off with a surprising upset as the Detroit Lions knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 21-20 in Kansas City. We’ve told you that American online sportsbooks all love the Lions to win the NFC North division and they took a huge step towards that goal with a win.

Of course, one week does not make a season. Last year, the 49ers lost to the Bears in Week 1, and Sunday the 49ers looked like maybe the best team in the NFL by whipping the Steelers on the road and the Bears may have looked like the worst getting thumped by the Packers.

We’ve tracked all the key betting data from Week 1 and break it all down for you here. The biggest tip right off the bat: Take the Under!

Calling All Under

Of the first 15 games played in Week 1 (not counting the Monday nighter between the Bills and Jets) and looking over the lines at Caesars, BetMGM and DraftKings, the under hit in 11 of the 15.

There weren’t any bad weather at games, except maybe in Cleveland, but one thought is the NFL’s new arrangement for pre-season may have meant that offenses got off to a slow start. Timing and execution take time to develop.

Also, there are lots of new quarterbacks in new places, like Derek Carr (New Orleans), Anthony Richardson (Colts), Bryce Young (Carolina), CJ Stroud (Texans), Baker Mayfield (Bucs) and Joshua Dobbs (Cardinals).

As these new guys learn the speed of the NFL, it may take some time for them to adjust.

The Points and The Spreads

Favorites went 8-7 in the first 15 games of the NFL season, but only covered in six of the 15. The Ravens were the biggest favorites entering their game against the Texans at -9.5 but they were still one of the teams to cover.

The biggest underdog to cover was the LA Rams who went into Seattle as five-point underdogs and beat the Seahawks 30-13. Remember though, the Rams were Super Bowl champs two years ago. They had a terrible season last year with injuries and went 5-12, but may be better than the oddsmakers believe.

The average margin of victory in the first 15 games was 11.7 points, but that’s a little out of whack because of the Cowboys 40-0 stomping of the Giants Sunday night. Take that out and the average margin is 9.7. Seven games were decided by a touchdown or less, three games by one point and one game by two. When in doubt, take the points. NFL games are usually close.

Does Timing Matter?

Everyone has their own special betting theories and strategies. Of course, there’s not one that always works, but one thing to at least consider is how each day is its own entity. Like how in college football it seems like one Saturday, there’s a big early upset and then more later in the day, it’s almost like a momentum thing carries over.

NFL Sundays have games in the ‘early window’ at 1 p.m. and ‘late window’ at 4 p.m. It’s interesting to note that eight of the nine games in the early window hit the under, and the margin of victory in those nine was 10.3 points. The five late window games were higher-scoring and closer, being decided by 8.6 points.