With NFL Week 1 all wrapped up, it’s time to take a deeper look into the betting angles from the first 16 games. Plenty of people were ripping up tickets on games across the league, which is to be expected. There were a few trends to be noted, such as road teams barely covering against the spread at 9-7 and 9 out of 7 matchups going under the point total. However, there was one major trend that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, and it’s all about the underdogs. Let’s take a look at how the underdogs performed in Week 1 of NFL action and what to look forward to for the coming slate of games.
Underdogs Went 12-4 Against the Spread in Week 1
As to be expected, there were some major upsets in the NFL in Week 1. That’s to be expected, as the first games of the season tend to be a bit more random as we get a feel for what to expect throughout the season. This year was a bit different, though, with underdogs covering the spread in 12 of the 16 games. That number’s especially notable as it’s the most underdog covers to start a season in the Super Bowl era.
Interestingly, plenty of those covers came from straight-up wins from underdogs. The Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, and New Orleans Saints completely blew out the competition. The Cincinnati Bengals rallied in overtime to beat the Minnesota Vikings. The Steelers and Dolphins held off the AFC East competition to grab their first wins. Even the Houston Texans cruised to a W in a game where the Jaguars were, in hindsight, inexplicably favored in.
Underdogs Didn’t Do Nearly As Well Last Year
Don’t expect to see underdogs cover like crazy every Week 1 in the NFL every year. Last year, underdogs were 6-9-1 against the spread, including a few straight-up wins by underdogs as well. The pandemic-shortened 2020 offseason could be partially to blame, as more experienced favorites likely needed less time to prepare. However, the bottom line is that favorites covered when expected to more often in 2020’s Week 1, as seen with Baltimore’s 38-6 domination of the Browns or the Chiefs beating the Texans in the season opener 34-20.
What To Look For This Week
There’s no shortage of opportunities for underdog teams to cover in Week 2. The Indianapolis Colts are a +3.5 home dogs against the Los Angeles Rams. The Panthers share the same spread hosting the division rival New Orleans Saints. Plus, the Chicago Bears are very short favorites against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals, who currently have a +2 line. These lines make these close matchups exciting, but it’s also enough to make any sports bettor sweat.
However, there are also games with much higher lines to keep an eye on. The Houston Texans are +12.5 coming off their win, facing an imposing Cleveland Browns squad. The Buccaneers are also heavy favorites against the Falcons, with Atlanta currently +12 dogs. And then there’s Monday Night Football, where the Lions are going to fight to cover the +11.5 point line against the Green Bay Packers. While you shouldn’t expect another 12-4 week, if this trend continues, it could be the year of the dog.