NFL bets, Week 1: Line moves, teaser and parlay plays, fading the public, home-field edge and more tips
Get ready for football with everything you need to know about the Week 1 lines
Seven months ago, the Patriots and Rams played the last NFL game of any consequence in Super Bowl LIII. This week, football is finally back as the 2019 NFL season kicks off with Packers at Bears on Thursday night.
Each week, I break down what you need to know about each game from a betting angle before you lock in your picks. Since we don't have any stats worth analyzing heading into Week 1, I'll talk about big line moves, home-field advantages of note, teasers and parlays to consider and more.
If you want to know which sides I like, you can find that info at the SportsLine link below, where all my rated plays appear during the season along with my five SuperContest picks each week and plenty of great analysis from a fantastic collection of experts. You can also check out where all our CBS Sports staff lands on each game each week right here.
Welcome back to football.
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Biggest line moves
Colts at Chargers -6.5 (opened LAC -3.5)
Ravens -7 at Dolphins (opened BAL -4)
49ers at Buccaneers PK (opened TB -2.5)
Lions -2.5 at Cardinals (opened PK)
The line for Colts-Chargers settled at Chargers -3 for most of the offseason, but the Andrew Luck retirement obviously caused a significant adjustment, with some books reopening as high as Chargers -9.5 before Chargers -7 settled as common line coming off the news. A week later, that line has ticked down even more as bettors see value in backing a strong Colts roster against a Chargers team dealing with injuries issues of its own.
The Ravens-Dolphins line had been Ravens -4.5 for much of the offseason, but even before the Laremy Tunsil trade it had started to move toward the road favorites, with the Westgate up to Ravens -5 by mid-August and Ravens -5.5 by cut day. If the line sticks at -7, that's an awfully big ask for a Ravens team heading to one of the toughest home fields in the league (more on that in a minute).
The 49ers and Bucs were seen as close to even early in the offseason with Tampa Bay being nearly three-point favorites on the opening line, but as buzz has continued to build on the 49ers for the second consecutive offseason, the line has steadily moved toward pick 'em, with 49ers backers still able to find 49ers +1 widely available as well.
The recent history of the Lions make it easy to doubt them as road favorites, but it appears people are buying less and less into the Cardinals as we get closer to the start of the season. The Patrick Peterson suspension and Robert Alford injury certainly doesn't help things either. Some Cardinals +3 lines are available for anyone buying into the home 'dog.
Other notable line moves: The Raiders opened as three-point favorites against the Broncos but were quickly bet to 2.5, and the line is as low as a pick 'em in some spots, an interesting development considering the "Hard Knocks" team generally generates positive buzz. The Chiefs opened as 5.5-point road favorites in Jacksonville but quickly moved to Chiefs -4.5, and people looking to back the Super Bowl hopefuls can find some Chiefs -3.5 lines as of Tuesday.
What picks can you make with confidence in Week 1? And which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that is up over $7,000 on its top-rated NFL picks.
Home-field edges to know
Ravens -7 at Dolphins
The Dolphins have had far and awayover the last few years, and as a result they're one of just four teams I give four points of home-field advantage to. That means in order to back the Ravens, you have to think they're 11 points better than the Dolphins on a neutral field. In my own personal power ratings, the Cardinals closed last year as the worst team in the league at eight points worse than average. Only seven teams were better than plus-3 in my power ratings as well. What I'm trying to say is that an 11-point difference is massive, especially heading into Week 1 where we know a lot less than we think we do.
Steelers at Patriots -6
Broncos at Raiders PK
The Patriots and Raiders are two more teams that I give four points of home-field advantage to. The case for the Raiders is basically because their offense has been horrendous on the road the last two years but better than average at home. Don't sell this home crowd short as the team kicks off its final season in Oakland. The Patriots home-field number requires less of an explanation, so you just have to determine how much better than the Steelers you think they are on a neutral field.
Lions -2.5 at Cardinals
Colts at Chargers -6.5
Giants at Cowboys -7
Texans at Saints -7
All four of these teams only get two points of home-field advantage from me. Maybe the Kyler Murray era will give the Cardinals a boost at home, but it's also worth noting the Lions were better on the road last year than they were in Detroit. No one will be surprised by the Chargers appearing here, while the Cowboys took a big step to reclaiming positive home-field advantage last year (their raw numbers had been in the negative thanks largely to the defense's work on the road, but the abrupt reversal shows why you can't go all-in with the raw data when creating the current year's number). The Saints appearing on a list of poor home fields would shock some people, but their defense consistently plays much better on the road.
Absences to monitor
Bengals at Seahawks -9.5
Colts at Chargers -6.5
The Bengals' offensive line was already going to be a problem this year, but with left tackle Cordy Glenn in the concussion protocol, they could be in massive trouble trying to stop new Seahawk Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday. With A.J. Green also sidelined, I'm not sure Cincinnati will be scoring much in a tough road trip to open the year.
The Colts obviously got dinged on the Week 1 line after Andrew Luck retired, but you could make the case that the Chargers' Week 1 absences add up to nearly the same sized impact on the team. From Derwin James being out months with a stress fracture in his foot to left tackle Russell Okung being placed on reserve/NFI due to a pulmonary embolism, it's not just Melvin Gordon who's going to be missing from this team. Keenan Allen also suffered an ankle injury in the preseason that will be worth monitoring this week.
Fading the public
Ravens -7 at Dolphins
Texans at Saints -7
If 80 percent of the action or more is on one side of a line, you want to be thinking about taking the other side, a practice commonly known as fading the public. Remember that this is the time of year when we know the least about how good or bad each team is. If the consensus thinks it has a game figured out, that should be flashing warning signs for you. All betting trends data is from BetOnline via Vegas Insider.
Everyone loves the Ravens after the Dolphins traded away Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills for a treasure trove of draft picks. But before you write the team off as an all-out tank job, you have to factor in Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback. He's shown the ability to make plays regardless of the situation around him in the past.
In the other game above, more than 80 percent of the public is backing the Texans. How could this be, after they were treated like a laughingstock for their cut-day moves? Tunsil undoubtedly makes the offensive line much better, and the Saints have struggled early in the season recently, going 1-9 straight up in the first two weeks of the last five seasons and only managing to squeak out the win against a terrible Browns team last year.
Underdog parlay of the week
Colts +240 at Chargers
Texans +260 at Saints
Hitting on this parlay would pay better than 11-to-1. I talked about the Colts a bit above in the absences section, as I believe there's a chance the Chargers' injuries have a bigger cumulative effect on that team than losing Andrew Luck does on Indianapolis. And backing the Texans is riding the Saints' poor trend in the first two weeks of the season. If you want to get even crazier, I don't mind throwing the Dolphins in the mix as home 'dogs for a payout of around 43-to-1.
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Teaser of the week
Patriots PK vs. Steelers
Seahawks -3.5 vs. Bengals
Taking the Patriots at home seems like an easy call, even against a good Steelers team. New England is consistently one of the best teams in the league against the spread at home, and they've won over 80 percent of their home games outright over the last three years.
I would have loved to tease the Eagles down while they were still at -8.5 so we could get through the key number of three, but even teasing to -3.5 shouldn't be an issue. But I'll avoid that divisional matchup just in case and go with the Seahawks to win easily at home against a bad Bengals team.
The teaser of the week was 12-4 last year before taking a loss in the always-tough Week 17.
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