Las Vegas is just as I remember it.
I flew in Thursday morning for the opening week of the NFL season – my first time back in five years. Watching the New England Kansas City game I saw faces all too familiar.
Disappointment, regret and remorse.
Football is back and the market chaos has started early.
I predicted record profits for bookmakers in Las Vegas and the state of Nevada this season.
I believe bettors will get buried because the top and bottom of the market is too easy to price.
Bettors like to back great teams and fade poor teams. Normally, a mix of professional and recreational money is needed to create market balance.
This season, however, everybody is on the same page and both like and hate the same teams an equal amount. This sets up for bankroll destruction and bookmakers rejoice – just as we saw Thursday evening.
The catastrophic loss for bettors Thursday does not seal the win for bookmakers. Far from it. Another storm is coming on Sunday as bettors will be doubling and tripling down to make back what they lost on the Patriots. While many parlays and teasers were killed, a fresh set of new ones will be rolling in over the next 24 hours, this time, for more money.
Jets at Bills
A team in particular that will get a lot of attention is the Buffalo Bills. Everybody wants to be the first to line up to fade the Jets. At some sports books here in Las Vegas, the lineup is around the corner and out onto the casino floor.
The Jets win total of 3 1/2 matches the lowest in history. This team is bad, and everybody knows it.
The issue bettors will face is that the Bills are not much better. We saw the Patriots struggle with many new offensive parts – and they are led by the best quarterback of all time. The Bills have a completely new offence without all but one of their weapons. They have a new head coach and a new coordinator. They are led by an average quarterback who up until Thursday morning was listed as questionable due to a possible concussion.
As bad as the Jets may be, they do not have to put forth a heroic effort to keep this game close when getting so many points.
The question bettors need to be asking is can the Bills score enough to put the spread out of reach? I do not believe they can.
The expected scheme of the Bills coaching staff does not produce blowouts. Head coach Sean McDermott said he wants to use McCoy in 60% of offensive plays. Keeping the ball on the ground so frequently means a slow pace and a fast moving game clock. Playing with a lead will only enforce that play calling mindset further.
Take the points with the Jets in this divisional matchup.
Falcons at Bears
Another team bookmakers will be rooting against is the Atlanta Falcons. I expect this to be the most popular parlay and teaser leg of the entire week – especially popular for those bettors off the New England loss. The Falcons of course are coming off a historic Super Bowl collapse, and while I do not believe much in the “Super Bowl hangover” theory, the playing conditions could be enough to slow this team down.
Atlanta plays their home games in a dome and does much of their training and prep work inside a controlled environment. This team relies on their speed and playmaking ability all of which will be hindered by the natural grass at Soldier Field. The famous Kentucky blue grass playing surface plays as slow as any other field in the league and plays similar to Lambeau Field, a location where Matt Ryan is 1-2 lifetime with a 59% completion percentage.
The Falcons can be another team to start slow offensively. They have a new offensive coordinator who is going to have a very difficult time filling the shoes of departed Kyle Shanahan.
The last time the Falcons switched offensive coordinators, Matt Ryan had the worst season of his career.
Time will tell how Atlanta gets on offensively, but influential money is suggesting it will take some time as professionals are siding with the Bears in this game.
A new quarterback for the Bears will produce a more conservative ball control style of play.
Chicago’s biggest weapon on offence is Jordan Howard in the backfield. Atlanta had a historically bad season stopping the run last year and did little to improve on their weakness this year.
This is a big matchup advantage for the Bears and one that fits well into the style of game needed to get the cover. Slow, hot, humid conditions and an inability for the Falcons to get their defence of the field will play well into the Bears favour.
Take the points at home with Chicago.
Eagles at Redskins
While the Bears and Jets games are both lopsided markets any house will have circled, the Eagles Redskins game is a game all professionals have circled.
Philadelphia moving from a 2.5 point underdog to a 1 point favourite has been the biggest move of the week one games. The difference between the two prices is not significant, but crossing the zero and signaling to keep moving towards 3 validates the price jump.
I like the Eagles and am confident to back them due to their ability to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
They have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL and two very dangerous weapons in the backfield behind it. Defensively they have bolstered their pass rush and solidified their secondary – their weak point last season.
Washington is walking a fine line on the edge of implosion. There are few positive reports coming out of practice and the locker room.
I can not help but question how close Kirk Cousins is to losing the support of this offence. Frustration could build in a hurry if he does not quickly get on the same page with new offensive weapon, Pryor Sr to take the work load off Jordan Reed.
Washington’s #2 receiver, Crowder, is banged up with a hip flexor injury, but the big question mark bettors should focus on is the status of centre Spencer Long. He is the heart of the offensive line and is critical to the success of this pass attack. With him at less than full speed, the Eagles front seven will have their way with the Redskins line.
Back the Eagles to win.
Week 1 Bets
- New York Jets +8.5 (1.98)
- Chicago Bears +6.5 (2.00)
- Philadelphia Eagles (1.925)