It’s never too early to start preparing for the beginning of a new NFL season. Once the free agent signings are in the books and the draft is complete, we have a really good idea of what each team is going to look like.

Oddsmakers are well aware of the public’s obsession with pro football. Before summer even gets here, they have already released their over/under team win totals. As well a betting spread on every regular-season game with the exception of Week 17.

If you are going to bet win totals, you definitely need to take some time to breakdown the teams.  It’s also a wise move for anyone that plans on handicapping the NFL (anyone betting their own picks).

You can also check out my NFL predictions page, where I have my projected records for each team, as well links to individual team pages with my win total recommendations.

Week 1 NFL Betting Systems & Handicapping Strategies

The vast majority of the public has no problem staying current with their favorite team. They know just about everything that’s happened in the offseason. Outside of the major story lines that the media takes to, that’s the extent of their knowledge.

For the other 31 teams, they often just base their opinions on how they finished the following season. There’s just too much turnover in the NFL to be accurate making predictions based off the previous year.

All the proof you need is this article, which focuses only on the week 1 NFL betting odds. Just by looking at the team’s previous year’s record, you know where the value lies.

As you will soon see, oddsmakers are abusing the public’s lack of knowledge on all 32 teams. They know they don’t do the work (not easy keeping informed on every team).

For a lot of the public, they just don’t have the time. Some will buy preview magazines to prepare. While that’s a good start, a lot of those publications fall into the same trap as the public. They base a lot of their predictions on what happened last year.  Including riding the teams who played in last year’s Super Bowl.

There’s also no guarantee that if you spend the time getting ready it will translate into profits. That’s just the nature of the NFL and it’s unpredictability. So many games are decided on just a few plays in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. Eventually some of these breaks aren’t going to go your way.

That’s why I like to look for systems or strategies with proven results long-term. Here’s a couple different ways to handicap the first slate of games for the upcoming season.

How to Handicap Week 1 NFL Matchups Based off Previous Year’s Record

Below you will see two different tables. The first one looks at the performance of a team that finishes 7-9 or better. How those teams perform in Week 1 whether they are a home favorite, home underdog, road favorite or road underdog. The next table shows the exact same information, but for teams who finished 6-10 or worse.

Performance of Teams Who Won 7 or More Games Previous Season

SituationSUATS
Home Favorite 167-63 (72.6%) 109-111-10 (49.5%)
Road Favorite 85-48-1 (63.9%) 62-70-2 (47.0%)
Home Underdog 23-41 (35.9%) 32-30-2 (51.6%)
Road Underdog 46-120 (27.7%) 62-95-9 (39.4%)
Overall 320-272-1 (54.0%) 265-306-23 (46.4%)

The overall numbers show us that we are on the right track fading teams who were right around .500 or better the previous year. It’s something you could have bet blindly and shown a profit to this point.

However, the splits pinpoint where the focus needs to be. That would be on road teams, with, especially when they are underdogs. While road favorites are only covering at a 47.0% rate, road dogs are a miserable 62-95-9 (39.4%) against the spread.

I spent some time looking at the different spreads and found that we can narrow this down even more. The key is to look for road dogs of 6.5-points or less. They are just 44-83-6 (34.6%) ATS.

2019 Qualifiers (Fade):

  • Titans +5.5 (@ Browns)
  • Colts +3 (@ Chargers)
  • Steelers +6 (@ Patriots)
  • Falcons +4 (@ Vikings)

*Note that if line moves to where one of these teams is listed as a favorite, they no longer are eligible for this system.

Performance of Teams Who Won 6 or Fewer Games Previous Season

SituationSUATS
Home Favorite44-24 (64.7%) 36-30-2 (54.5%)
Road Favorite13-5 (72.2%)9-9 (50.0%)
Home Underdog31-56-1 (35.6) 48-40 (54.5%)
Road Underdog 41-92 (30.8%) 76-51-6 (59.8%)
Overall 129-177-1 (42.2) 169-130-8 (56.5%)

We really start to see why the public struggles early when we look at how all those bad teams do against the number to start the year. Not many people are rushing to place a bet on a team that finished 3-13 the previous year.

The lines are heavily shaded in the other direction, creating amazing value. If you bet every single team that finished 6-10 or worse the previous year, you would be riding a 169-130-8 (56.5%) run. Might not seem like much, but that’s more than $2,000 in profits for a simple $100 wager on each play.

Once again the splits paint a better picture. The one exception here where you don’t bet this blindly is when a team that won 6 or fewer games the previous year and is a road favorite. As you can see, it doesn’t come up often, so the majority of the bets are in play.

Like the previous section, our focus needs to be on road underdogs, as they are hitting at a 59.8% clip. Again, the sweet spot is for teams that are dogs of 6.5 points or less. This situation has gone a remarkable 53-24-6 (68.8%) ATS.

2019 Qualifiers (Take)

  • 49ers +1 (@ Bucs)
  • Broncos +2 (@ Raiders)
  • Bills +3 (@ Jets)
  • Packers +3.5 (@ Bears)

Betting Teams With Worse Record Than Opponent From Previous Season

I think we all can agree bad teams from the previous year have an edge against the spread in Week 1 the following season.  The next thing I wanted to look at was if you could just look at the records of the two teams and bet the team that had the worse record of the two.

Overall Numbers

YearS.US.U %ATSATS %
20185-6-145.4%7-558.3%
20175-838.5%7-5-158.3%
20167-940.0%10-664.3%
20155-936.0%6-842.9%
20146-746.2%8-561.5%
20138-850.0%11-568.8%
6-YEAR TOTAL36-47-143.4%49-34-159.0%

2019 Qualifiers:

  • Packers +3.5 (@ Bears)
  • Browns -5.5 (vs Titans)
  • 49ers +1 (@ Bucs)
  • Cardinals +2.5 (vs Lions)
  • Colts +3 (@ Chargers)
  • Giants +7.5 (@ Cowboys)
  • Dolphins +4.5 (vs Ravens)
  • Redskins +9 (@ Eagles)
  • Jaguars +4 (vs Chiefs)
  • Jets -3 (vs Bills)
  • Panthers +3 (vs Rams)
  • Steelers +6 (@ Patriots)
  • Bengals +9.5 (@ Seahawks)
  • Falcons +4 (@ Vikings)
  • Raiders -2 (vs Broncos)
  • Texans +7 (@ Saints)

As you can see this is about as rock solid of a system as you are going to find.  It’s got a 59.0% win rate over the last 6 years.

As I do with any system I come across, I try to find the sweet spot (most profitable scenario). I believe I have done just that. Focusing on underdogs of 5 points or less (+5.5 or higher doesn’t qualify) and favorite that are favored by at least a field goal (-3).

Play On: Underdogs (+5 or Less)

YearS.US.U %ATSATS %
20182-250.0%2-250.0%
20171-233.3%1-1-150.0%
20164-357.1%5-271.4%
20153-537.5%3-537.5%
20143-175.0%3-175.0%
20133-442.9%5-271.4%
6-YEAR TOTAL16-1748.5%19-13-159.4%

2019 Qualifiers:

  • Packers +3.5 (@ Bears)
  • 49ers +1 (@ Bucs)
  • Cardinals +2.5 (vs Lions)
  • Colts +3 (@ Chargers)
  • Dolphins +4.5 (vs Ravens)
  • Jaguars +4 (vs Chiefs)
  • Panthers +3 (vs Rams)
  • Falcons +4 (@ Vikings)

Play On: Favorites of (-3 or More)

YearS.US.U %ATSATS %
20180-10.0%0-10.0%
20172-167.0%2-167.7%
20161-0100.0%1-0100.0%
20152-0100.0%2-0100.0%
20141-150.0%1-150.0%
20133-0100.0%3-0100.0%
6-YEAR TOTAL9-281.8%9-281.8%

2019 Qualifiers:

  • Browns -5.5 (vs Titans)
  • Jets -3 (vs Bills)