Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here and the excitement is overwhelming. As a statistical and analytical website that focuses on football here at BSN ATS we too are excited but our numbers on the other hand, not so much.
You see the problem is that our estimated win metric (or EW from here on) which we introduced last season, has always been on top of the Vegas spreads. So much so that it’s clearly a similar metric to what most sports books use to predict accurate lines. The advantage is that when you see differences between our spreads and Vegas' you know it’s either affected by an injury or suspension, or in the cases that interest us, are skewed by public perception.
In Week 1 public perception isn’t driving the lines too far as minds remain open. That’s made our EW spreads as close as ever to the actual lines with barely any margin of difference. Of the 16 games this week our spreads are within a field goal or less of the actual line in 14 of those games (10 of which differ by less than 1.5 points). Less than a field goal is nothing folks, anything could happen to make up that difference in the course of four quarters.
The two games not included in those 14 are affected by different factors that should make you wary and make our figures a bit unreliable (see below). We’ll go over the few lines that look appealing and pass the eye test but the reality of it is; betting on Week 1 is for suckers. Especially if you want to use projective metrics to do so. Wait it out, see how everything goes and wait for the market overreactions that’ll occur after opening week, that’s when you really want to pounce.
Until then, here are some games worth monitoring and our full slate of projected spreads below.
Who the numbers like
The first game that our numbers have a 5.5 point differential from Vegas - which isn’t even all that massive everything considered - is the Indianapolis Colts -3.5 at the Los Angeles Rams. Our numbers, of course, don’t take into account the Andrew Luck injury that’ll keep him out of the game which impacts things significantly. The Colts of all teams are not one to trust without their star quarterback, you’ve been warned.
The other game that our numbers like is the Cleveland Browns who are +9 points hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns are a young team who’ll start rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and have tons of uncertainty across their roster. It’s not like our numbers aren’t projecting the Steelers to win, but they do so by only 3.5 points on the road as opposed to 9. The chances of this getting out of hand as Pittsburgh nurtures an early lead - which could be a death sentence for the rook QB - are too great here.
These at least pass the eye test
With the margins so slim the numbers can still give us suggestions but not authentic picks. here are three games that fit the bill.
The first one is the Seattle Seahawks +3 at the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks just added to their defense with Sheldon Richardson and could be back to really dominating on defense. Even at Lambeau Field, they could be an interesting play as you’re basically looking at a pick em game here. However, be cautious as Arron Rodgers and the Packers have won their last two meetings with the Hawks and the opener at Lambeau is always special. Our suggested spread has Green Bay as only a 1.5 point favorite which isn't enough to bet on but we'll be intrigued to see how this goes.
Another interesting line is the Dallas Cowboys as -4 point favorites hosting the New York Giants. The Cowboys have experienced an odd week but it appears they’ll have Ezekiel Elliott in this one. The Boys are the slightly better team per our metrics and they’re at home giving them a touchdown advantage. The game is probably going to be close as these are two divisional rivals who know each other well and don’t forget the G-men were the only team to beat Dallas last year in the regular season and did so twice.
The final game that’s probably most intriguing of all is the Washington Redskins +1 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. You know we love a home dog, especially when it’s two evenly matched division rivals. Philly has lost five of their last six to the Skins (four of those W's coming with Kirk Cousins at quarterback). This year, both teams have added several key players in the offseason who’ll need to be integrated, making both squads still fairly unknown. Gun to my head, this would be our pick of the week, but again, the numbers suggest caution.