2023 NFL Week 1: Another Angle for Early Season Betting Picks
Updated: Aug 31
Week 1 NFL Betting Picks: NY Giants +3.5...and a Host of Other Dogs
The start of the new NFL season portends opportunities for sharps to capitalize on cognitive biases evident in the betting market. For instance, we observe evidence that the casual betting public generally overestimates better teams against the spread, particularly early in the year and versus the most familiar opposition.
The faith in favorites to beat the number has proven especially misguided in divisional action, as squads are best prepared to counter tendencies and proficiencies of teams they play most frequently, which results in smaller margins (i.e. more common covers for underdogs).
Additionally, in the first weeks of the football year, given an absence of performance data for the new season to ground expectations, we think bettors place to much credence on last year's outcomes. This approach does not properly account for offseason improvement, luck and other relevant factors that might influence results.
The general predilection toward favorites versus the number (despite the normalizing effect of the betting spread) has been documented by numerous academic examinations, as has the tendency to overweight the recent past. We review some studies of these topics in a separate article that offers guidance for betting the opening week of the NFL regular season (see here for details).
The focus of this missive though is to highlight the consistent profitability that has accrued to bettors backing division underdog covers early in the regular NFL season, and to identify betting picks for week 1 that are based on this angle.
The system described in the above graphic has proven good for a 14% long-term return on investment, and has submitted losing seasons in only three of the last nineteen seasons.
But in addition highlighting the New York Football Giants for the cover in their first official action of the 2023-24 season, this set of criteria also endorses the following seven ATS plays.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
We are taking the points with each of the teams indicated in bold. We offer further validation for this position per the aforementioned alternate (but related) system.