The NFL has given us a glimpse of what the 2020 season has on deck after releasing its regular-season schedule last week and, naturally, there's already been some shifts in the betting world upon seeing the breakdown of each contest from a week-to-week basis.
On the latest edition of the Pick Six Podcast (it's a daily dose of NFL goodness, listen below and subscribe here), William Hill Sports Book director of trading Nick Bogdanovich highlighted some of the early action that's been hitting the book and specifically noted the public likes the over (-130) on the Arizona Cardinals season win total, which has now been bumped up from 6.5 to 7. Because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed Tom Brady, who is seeing a lot of action in MVP futures, in free agency earlier this offseason, the Bucs have been another public favorite.
"Anything Tampa Bay over is going to be hot," Bogdanovich told podcast host Will Brinson. "We're going to be fading Tampa Bay all year if they get off to a halfway decent start, which I think they will. We'll be rooting against Brady again just in a different uniform."
Of course, strength of schedule is a statistic that a chunk of folks will look at when going over win total futures. Bogdanovich cautions, however, that this may not always work because it is somewhat flawed by nature.
"Strength of schedule is very tricky," he said. "Obviously, it's based off what happened last year and not what's going to happen this year, so about halfway through the schedule you may have thought you had an easy one and all of a sudden you're looking up and it's one that's really hard and on the flip side. It's one more factor to look at, but you've got to be very wary of that."
William Hill uses its regular-season win totals to formulate what may be a more accurate summation of whether or not a club will be facing a rigorous schedule. Under this metric, the Atlanta Falcons have the toughest schedule in the NFL, while the Indianapolis Colts, who just inked veteran Philip Rivers to be their quarterback for 2020, own the easiest.
"They are our biggest liability for AFC futures," Bogdanovich said of the Colts, who are currently +1200 to win the AFC and are -130 to go over nine wins this season. "Right now we lose a pretty big number if the Colts win the AFC. If Rivers finds himself in a pretty good position, I still think they've got some nice pieces and their defense looks pretty good and I love Frank Riech, so, yeah, keep an eye out for the Colts with their schedule."
The major elephant in the room when discussing all of these NFL futures, however, is the current coronavirus pandemic that is still sweeping the globe. While there is optimism that the regular season will happen, it may occur without fans, which will impact the week-to-week lines for a given game. Because of this, Bogdanovich highlights that getting bets in early while they are still being booked with the idea that folks will be in stadiums could provide some value.
"The very first game you're talking about is Kansas City and Houston," Bogdanovich said, using the 2020 opener as an example. "Kansas City is a 10.5 point favorite and Kansas City is one of the biggest home-field advantages in all of football. It's like 4.5-5 points. The crowd's insane there so if there's no crowd and they're just playing in an empty stadium that game is probably going to be like 8 [points]."