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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

2019 NFL Monday Night Football, Week 1

Houston Texans +7.0 @ NO Saints

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders +3.0

Through the first 13 games of week 1 NFL action, underdogs have exhibited a modest edge, amassing a record of 7-6-1 ATS. In fact, no favorite of more than a touchdown has covered yet.

Our work suggests the better teams will continue to struggle versus the chalk Monday evening, and we are backing teams receiving points in each of the last two contests of the week. We detail our rationale below.


Houston Texans +7.0 @ New Orleans Saints

Our primary (power rankings) approach sees modest value with the travelling team in the first contest of the Monday Night Football week 1 double-feature. But in additional to this supportive indication in Houston's favor, we note that generally speaking, underdogs have shown an advantage in the NFL's inaugural Monday night proceedings. Teams taking points in week 1 Monday Night Football games are 32-20-3 (61%), per Pro Football Reference. Consistent with this observation, underdogs on the road, such as the Texans, are 18-13-3 (58%) against the betting line in the first Monday Night Football game of the season.

It also does not hurt our play that Drew Brees, the celebrated Saints QB, is generally a slow starter against the spread. The 19th year veteran QB from Purdue is 6-10-1 ATS in NFL game 1's since 2002, including non-covers in each of New Orleans' last five first games -- Brees' cumulative ATS record is a serviceable 136-113-3 ATS (54%) for the remainder of the regular season.

Finally, we have also observed evidence that professional bettors are lining up with Houston and the points this afternoon.

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders

Our main framework gives the Raiders an ever so slight edge at home in the second contest slated for Monday evening. As such, given the current line of Broncos minus a field goal, we regard the Raiders as live dogs.

Consistent with the idea that Oakland has a reasonable chance of pulling off the outright win this evening, John Ewing, of The Action Network, has noted that since 2005, teams taking less than six points in divisional action during the first five weeks of play have been solidly profitable straight-up bets, delivering better than a 20% return on investment.

Validating the ATS signal from our power rankings work, we have observed that, since 1940, home dogs like the Raiders are 20-14-1 ATS in the first installment of Monday Night Football. The Raiders opened as 3-point favorites for their debut matchup of the new football year. However, the release of superstar receiver, Antonio Brown, whom the Raiders acquired from the Steelers during the offseason, accelerated line movement already underway. When the smoke settled, the spread had shifted six points to pit Oakland as three-point dogs. We view this move as an overreaction.

Of interest, we note that teams featured on the NFL Films and HBO "Hard Knocks" series have struggled historically in their first out of the regular season. Since the show debutted in 2002, involved teams have beat the number at about a 51% clip in the season after being highlighted, but these teams are only 4-8-1 ATS in game 1's. John Ewing has hypothesized that the way HBO presents these challenged teams draws support from casual bettors. This increased interest is believed to motivate bookmakers to inflate lines...perhaps the enchantment over Joe Public wears off though after the typically disappointing opener.

For Monday's latter meeting we observe no evidence that the betting public is clamoring toward the Raiders in the aftermath of the compelling TV narrative. In fact, as of the time of this writing, 70% of wagers by volume and 70% of dollars bet against the spread are supporting the Broncos.

Happy betting!!

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