With Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season officially in the books, it is already time to look ahead at the Week 2 slate. One of the great things about the 5-7 days between NFL game weeks is taking advantage of the early lines/odds. If you’re someone who does their homework or regularly heads to BeerLife, you will find opportunities to lock in favorable bets before the lines move.
There are some risks involved in an early week pick, as injuries, illness, or weather could lead the line to move against your selection. No one wants to be holding the Giants +3.5 when by Sunday, the line is +6.
One way to benefit from an early week bet is to lock in the favorite. Frequently, as the week goes on, the public will start participating in the market, and the line will continue moving in their favor. For example, the spread on the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers opened with Saints -3. The Saints are now favored by -3.5. This may not seem like a lot, but it could easily make the difference between a winning or losing bet.
In the case of a significant line movement, there are times when a bettor can benefit from taking both sides of the bet. Let’s say I jumped in on New Orleans at -3.5 for $100, and during the week Carolina suffered a significant injury on defense. Bettors realize there is no way the Panthers can keep it close, and the line moves to -8.5.
If I were to take the other side of the bet (Carolina +7.5) for $100, I now have limited downside but a chance to profit handsomely. Here’s how the scenarios break down.
Scenario 1 -Saints win by 8 or more.
I win the bet on the Saints but lose the bet on the Panthers. In the end, I lose “the juice” to the sportsbook.
Scenario 2- Saints win by 3 or less. Or, the Panthers win.
I lose the $100 Saints bet but profit on Carolina. Once again, I lose “the juice.”
Scenario 3 – Saints win between 4 and 7 points.
I win both bets as both teams cover and profit $200.
While situations like this don’t happen every week or fall within everyone’s strategy. It is unlikely that a bettor will even have these choices if they didn’t place an early bet.
Week 2: Playing The Lines
Cincinnati Bengals @ Chicago Bears (Open: Bears -5.5, Current: Bears -3)
My model has this game closer to where it opened, with Bears as the 5 point home favorites. This line has been on a downward trend since opening and was at one point -2.5. I see this getting bet back up throughout the week as any news of Justin Fields seeing increased time will send money towards the Bears. Even though the Bengals are coming off an impressive victory against the Vikings, I think Chicago bounces back and am taking them now at -3.
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins (Open: Bills -3, Current: Bills -3.5)
The Buffalo Bills entered the season as one of the favorites to make a Super Bowl appearance. While one loss doesn’t change their long-term outlook, it can affect the betting markets. My model has this game closer to a pick ’em than its current line. I see this line moving further towards Buffalo as the week goes on. Therefore, I’m waiting to see if I can get Miami at -4 or -4.5.
So far, the over-under total has hovered around 47.5-48.5. The model is strongly pointing to the over in this matchup. If this drops back down to 47 or 47.5, I’m pulling the trigger.
LA Rams @ Indianapolis Colts (Open: Rams +1, Current: Rams -4)
If you were lucky enough to have capitalized on the Rams as 1 point underdogs, you’d have to be thrilled. After LA’s dominant performance against Chicago and a less than inspiring showing by the Colts, this line could be heading towards -5 to -5.5. The model is saying Indianapolis will keep this game much closer than that, but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach. If the line gets out of control and takes the Colts to +7, I’ll jump in.
I’m more interested in the over-under line which is currently at 47.5, down from its opening line of 49. My model has this leaning towards the over. If the trend continues downwards I will gladly take the over.
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles (Open: 49ers -5.5, Current: 49ers -4)
Both teams entered the season with controversy at quarterback but put the drama to rest with impressive offensive performances. The model has this game as a pick ’em. Therefore I’m jumping in now with the Eagles at +4. Jimmy G had no problem against the Lions’ defense but will be facing a much better Eagles unit with a strong pass rush. While the same could be said about Philadelphia’s opening week matchup, the mobility of Jalen Hurts will make it tough on a 49ers defense that has some question marks of its own.
Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Open: Denver -2.5, Current: Denver -6)
Following a disappointing debut from Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence, the odds have moved strongly towards the Broncos. Denver is coming off a 14 point road victory against the Giants who profile similarly to their week 2 opponent. The model gives the Broncos only a 3 point advantage. But, I don’t have enough confidence in the Jaguars, even with the wiggle room.
I see this over-under total moving higher throughout the week. With the model showing a total closer to 48, I’ll be taking the over now as it has already moved up from 42.5.