Week 1 Betting on the 2018 NFL – Exploiting the Early Spreads
Published on June 13, 2018
We are a long way from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, but the summer is here, so the countdown is officially on.
The natural path to a new year of pro football action has been set. The 2018 NFL Draft is a month old, and teams are already talking about organized team activities and training camp.
Before long, the preseason will be here, big injuries will shake the foundation of a few teams, and everyone will be looking to get off to a perfect start in week one.
There’s no harm in advancing past all of the filler and gauging how week one could unfold right now, though.
It’s true that we’ll know more once we get closer to the first week of the season, but by acting now, it’s also arguable bettors can hop on amazing value that they simply won’t have access to as the summer progresses.
Predicting the future is generally a waste of time, but there is a handful of week one NFL point spreads that demand to be exploited. Here are my favorites to target in week one and why.
The Vikings are understandable favorites at home in week one. They reached the NFC title game a year ago, they’re getting Dalvin Cook back, and they upgraded at quarterback by signing Kirk Cousins.
Throw in their elite defense, and Minnesota may be gearing up for a “Super Bowl or bust” campaign in 2018.
While that may be true, bettors need to consider the impact of Jimmy Garoppolo on the San Francisco 49ers. He was borderline flawless as a starter to close the 2017 season, going 5-0 after taking over under center.
If his record as a starter doesn’t stay pristine (he never lost in New England, either), I’m fine with that. However, the Niners are Super Bowl sleepers due to adding talent around their prized passer, and they seem fully capable of beating this +5 point spread.
Minnesota will be a tough out on the road, but the Niners improved down the stretch in 2017 and will be even better to start 2018.
After beating this spread 11 times during last season, I don’t think I want to bet against them by almost a touchdown right away in week one.
I personally felt last year was Tampa Bay’s time.
Jameis Winston seemed to be ready to take off, and the Buccaneers had weapons everywhere on the field offensively. Their defense was far from elite, but it had some nice pieces and showed potential.
Things didn’t work out as planned, but the Buccaneers at least continued to make noise inside their division. That’s pretty telling in the ultra-tough NFC South, where three of four teams finished 10-6 or better.
Tampa Bay’s run through the NFC South only produced a paltry 1-7 mark, but they had some tight games, and their lone win came against – you guessed it – the New Orleans Saints.
Winning in Louisiana isn’t easy, but the Bucs did pull off that feat in 2015 and have at least split the season series in each of the last three seasons.
Tampa Bay just needs to keep progressing and offer a hot start like they’ve done in each of the past two years.
Whether that leads to a shocking road upset over a rival or not remains to be seen, but I do think the Bucs have the goods to give the Saints a hard-fought game and potentially beat a thick +7 point spread.
Anytime you see point spreads that favor the underdog greatly, you’re going to consider two things: picking them to beat the spread and/or to get the straight-up win.
It can go the other way, too. That’s the case with the Titans when they head to South Beach in week one.
Many NFL experts see the Dolphins as a team in decline, while the Titans showed with last year’s playoff run that they may be on the upward swing.
I don’t know if I’m buying either team as they stand, but I like the Titans to win in week one, and this tiny spread makes this a virtual pick’em.
That should help make Tennessee a pretty nice straight-up play to start the season, while a -2 spread at -110 feels like easy money.
Miami will be getting Ryan Tannehill back to man their offense, but they were just 6-10 last year and a pedestrian 4-4 at home.
The Titans brought in Mike Vrabel to lead an improving defense, and with a balanced offense paced by Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry, and Dion Lewis, they could have their way in a week one win.
I doubt the Green Bay Packers blow a primetime appearance at home in week one against the hated Bears.
Green Bay is better than that, and after making big improvements across the board this offseason, they’re easily one of the top Super Bowl threats out there.
That being said, the Bears are also going to be markedly better, and there’s just no way they lie down in such a big game to start the year.
Offensive guru Matt Nagy takes over up top for the Bears, who have added some nice pieces around developing second-year passer Mitchell Trubisky. Throw in a solid and improving Chicago defense, and this game isn’t as easy as Vegas is making it out to be.
Green Bay has ripped off four straight wins in this series, but the Bears have beat this spread twice in that stretch. In fact, over the last six meetings, the Bears have provided a push or beat this spread four different times.
Chicago is on the rise, and while I doubt they win this game, they have a real shot at hanging tight and beating this spread.
There are a few other spots worth targeting in week one, but I find it hard to ignore the value bettors are getting with the Kansas City Chiefs.
KC did trade away Alex Smith, and they lost some star talent on defense, but this team just won the AFC West and handled the Bolts (2-0) in 2017.
Has so much changed here that you’re supposed to back a constantly underperforming L.A. team in this spot?
I can’t do it. The Chargers have a good defense and a capable offense, but they’re notoriously slow starters and tend to under-achieve. On top of that, KC has a mental hold over them in this series.
Not only did the Chiefs sweep the season series in 2017 (two blowouts), but they have also rattled off eight consecutive wins over the last four years.
There could be a drop-off in consistency with Patrick Mahomes making his first career start in week one, but the Chiefs remain absolutely loaded offensively, and they’ve dominated this series.
The fact that they’re +3-point underdogs should not go unnoticed for bettors searching for elite betting value to kick off the 2018 NFL season.
I know it’s early, but these five games are probably just a small example of the value littered across week one this year.
Things can change greatly based on injuries and position battles, but what won’t change is coaching, game environment, and the general cores of these teams.
The spreads could shift, though, so it may make sense to act now and bet on week one NFL games before advantageous point spreads move to a point where the value just isn’t the same anymore.