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Betting Advice and Tips for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season

| September 2, 2021 5:52 am PDT

For beginners, betting on the NFL can be very difficult. It can be hard to understand and thus, hard to win.

There can be many ways to bet on the NFL, but the important thing is that you come away winning more than you lose.

How do you do that? By researching, corralling data, and dissecting games before you place any bets. Going into week one of the 2021 NFL season, I’ve got a few helpful tips to keep in mind, as well as some specific advice to start the year.

To get you ready for a new pro football season, let’s dive into some NFL betting tips for Week 1.

Bet with Your Head, Not Your Heart

This sounds simple, but bias is a thing. If you’re betting on the NFL in week one (or ever), the chances are good that you’re a fan of the league, and also a big fan of a specific team.

Like it or not, that bias can impact the way we view betting options each week, and it may even dictate how you bet on wagers dealing with your favorite team.

If you want to bet on your favorite team, but your favorite team turns out to be terrible, then maybe bet on them in a different way.

This can be a hard rule to follow, but it’s particularly important for week one in the NFL, because that’s when fans of even the worst teams are absurdly optimistic.

The main thing you want to do in betting is to bet with your head, not your heart. You can bet on your team, provided the data and pricing points to the bet being a good one.

Consider NFL Matchups

The biggest thing when determining who to bet on in the NFL is matchups. By looking at which teams have the best opportunity to do well, you can capitalize on a matchup, and win some extra cash.

Matchups include everything from the broad scale of team versus team, or can be as specific as offensive line versus defensive line.

In the NFL, any team can be exploited for having the slightest weakness. There is a popular phrase that applies to all sports betting.

“You are only as good as your worst player.”

That is very much the case in the NFL.

One example of this is last year’s NFC Championship game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a huge showdown with the Green Bay Packers in 2020. The Packers were a very talented team, but they had a weakness at cornerback.

The Bucs utilized their superior receiving core to the Packers weakness, and eventually won the game. This is an example of how you should think through every possible scenario.

You saw that play out before halftime when the Buccaneers sprung a huge play to take a big lead.

And Green Bay’s clear issues in their secondary ended up costing them the game on the final drive, as well.

This isn’t just about a cornerback to wide receiver matchup; it can go all the way down to special teams. With the NFL being very hard to predict, you need to know as much as possible to limit risk.

In Week 1, there is a specific matchup that I love; the Baltimore rushing attack versus the Oakland Raiders defense.

The Ravens suffered an injury to their young running back, J.K Dobbins and he will miss the remainder of the season. But they have tons of options out of the backfield and a great offensive line.

The Raiders defense gave up 4.6 yards per carry in 2020, tied for 6th highest in the NFL. They didn’t make a ton of changes on their defense, so they probably won’t see a ton of change there. This matchup is like a hungry lion to an injured gazelle. The Ravens are going to run all over the Raiders and I like them to win Week 1 easily.

Going forward, it is important to know where each team’s strengths and weaknesses are. The Ravens offensive strength is their rushing attack, the Raiders weakness is their rush defense.

Utilize this way of thinking in all your week one NFL betting and think about more than just the win-loss ratios.

Monitor NFL Injury News

Few things are more important than keeping up with the latest NFL injury news. Trades, releases, signings, and injuries all fit into the same conversation here.

The message is simple; know who is and isn’t playing in any game you bet on.

Say it’s a Wednesday night and you are looking to place your bets for the week’s games. You have an idea of what you want to bet and you may want to place it now, but you should almost always wait until the last couple hours or minutes before the game to place your bet.

You may have to deal with some odds being changed, but this is the best way of minimizing risk.

Injuries happen all the time in the NFL and not just in the games, but in practice as well. Any player can suffer an injury or aggravate an existing one and rule them out of the upcoming game

If a certain player was a big reason why you wanted to bet on the respective team, you’ll have to rethink it.

For Week 1, there are several key NFL injuries to monitor. Here’s a quick list of big names you’ll want to know whether or not they’ll be active.

  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals
  • Sammy Watkins, WR, Ravens
  • Marlon Humphrey, CB, Ravens
  • D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions
  • Carson Wentz, QB, Colts
  • Za’Darius Smith, LB, Packers

This is just a taste of the week one NFL injury report. More names will pop up, too, but for right now the most impactful name to monitor has to be Wentz.

The Colts quarterback’s status is still in the air. Carson Wentz was looking at a potential lengthy absence, but might be ready to return in Week 1.

If Wentz is declared healthy to play, you might want to rethink betting on the Seahawks. The Seahawks can still win, regardless of how healthy Wentz is, but Wentz does make the Colts a better team.

If Wentz is ruled out, then the Seahawks have a way better chance to win.

Always wait as long as possible to place your bets, so you don’t get any surprise players who are listed as out and ruin your wagers for the week.

Be Selective with Your NFL Bets

You can bet on the NFL however you choose, but it’s important to know the various ways you can bet on games, and also that there can sometimes be a “best” option in terms of wager type.

Going into week one, let’s break down the major ways to bet on NFL games, and how to approach them.

NFL Moneyline Betting

A money line bet is who you think will win straight up. If you think the Rams are going to beat the Bears on Sunday Night Football in Week 1, you would bet on the Rams moneyline.

It is very simple and easy to do, and also avoids some tricky areas, as well. This is a great way to bet for beginners and people who like to keep it simple. You won’t get as favorable odds as other types of bets, but it is a safe way to make your picks.

Going into the first week of the NFL season, you’ll want to weigh risk vs. reward. Some favorites will have inflated prices, but will be some of the safest NFL bets for week one.

It’s up to you to decide who to bet on. However, betting on the Ravens moneyline may be “safe,” but it may not be the “right” bet to target.

Betting on NFL Game Totals

The over/under game is fun. It is a way to bet on how many points will be scored in the game.

For example, the O/U for the NFL’s opening night on Thursday, is set at 50.5 at most NFL betting sites. This means that the Buccaneers and Cowboys would have to score a combined 51 points or more for the over, or combined 50 or less for the under.

So, if the reigning champs beat the Cowboys by a score of 30-24, then the combined points total would be 54 and the over bettors would cash out their winnings.

Typically, the O/U lines set through sportsbooks are pretty accurate, which means you can bet either way and win or potentially lose.

You always want to keep in mind how you think the game is going to be played but take into consideration what can happen throughout the game.

For example, if Dak Prescott gets injured after the first quarter, then the Cowboys will probably not score a ton of points without him. This means that the under bettors would be in good position, while the over bettors would not be.

When betting on the over and under, it is always more fun to bet the over and see a bunch of scoring, but the under can be fun too, especially when you win.

Betting on NFL Point Spreads

The spread is popular in NFL betting. It is a way to keep the specific game you are betting on as fair as possible.

For example, the spread for the Cardinals versus Titans game is set at Cardinals +3, with the Titans at -3. The top NFL sportsbooks favor the Titans, so they give the Cardinals some extra points to even out the bet.

The sportsbooks change the spread depending on the matchups, so if a good team is against a really bad team, the spread will be larger.

The largest spread in Week 1 is the Bucs/Cowboys (Bucs -7.5, Cowboys +7.5) and the 49ers/Lions (49ers -7.5, Lions +7.5).

The job of the bettor is to decide if a team is going to win by the amount of points the spread is (and cover), or if the underdog can keep the game close (and beat the spread).

Spreads really come into play when you think a game will be close, but don’t think the underdog is a great bet to win.

For week one, the Cowboys at +7.5 is interesting. Dallas has loads of talent, but beating the Bucs feels like a mild stretch. You may not want to hammer the ‘Boys moneyline then, but betting on them to keep it within a touchdown looks pretty appealing on paper.

NFL Parlay Betting

Now when talking about fun bets, NFL parlays are king. You can get pretty wild with parlays and get super long, crazy odds.

The best way to do parlays is to give yourself more favorable odds by combining two bets or more. Here’s an example.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers ML (-370) is bet $10 win $2.70
  • San Francisco 49ers ML (-390) is bet $10 win $2.56

Parlay those together and you get the following.

  • Bucs ML (-370) + 49ers ML (-390) = (-168) Bet $10 win $5.96

That way you get more return on your $10 investment, for a little more risk.

You can do super crazy odds bets with parlays, but the best way to do it is to lower your odds and get more return on investment.

My favorite parlay for Week 1 is the Bucs ML, 49ers ML, Ravens ML, and Broncos ML which gets to (+313) odds, which is bet $10 to win $31.35.

You can aim a lot higher with your week one NFL parlay bets, but this is just to show you what parlays are, and how they can be executed.

Betting Advice for Week 1 in the NFL

Overall, betting on the NFL in week one should be fun, and since nobody really knows anything yet, it can also be very rewarding. It’s also volatile, so using these week one NFL betting tips is advised.

The bottom line is that betting it is a fun way to be more involved in the NFL, as well as make some money.

You always need to do a lot of research before placing bets and bet with your head not your heart. You shouldn’t bet anything you aren’t willing to lose, since things like injuries can happen which can make betting truly unpredictable.

Ready to bet on the NFL in week one? Consider eyeing some value with this look at the top NFL Upset Picks to Target in Week 1.

Anthony Haage

Anthony is a sports writer for GamblingSites.com covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and more. He also covers other various topics such as entertainment, general sports betting tips, and more.

His favorite teams are the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks. He also will be a temporary fan of any team if it means winning him bets.

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