Identifying NFL Underdog Picks and Bets and Parlaying Profit
We kick off the 2020 NFL season shooting for more touchdowns, birdies and green. The profit was solid in 2018 when we posted a 35-19 ATS (64.8%) record on these pages with 26 outright underdog winners. A 21-7 season ending run and 6-0 sprint to the playoffs provided confidence. The previous shortened season produced a 16-8 record on these pages so we entered last year at 51-27 ATS (65.4%) with 37 outright winners. Anyone betting money at the leading online sportsbooks was getting paid by the bookmakers, but no longer at leading reduced juice sportsbook 5Dimes, as they are restructuring for a potential entry into the U.S. market and just closed off betting to U.S. bettors last week.
But we take the birdies with bogeys knowing there are hazards and rough ahead when navigating and managing the course and our game. Last year was less fulfilling, finishing 26-27 ATS in the NFL. That included a highlight in Week 15 with our largest card going 4-1 ATS with the insight and analysis assisting bettors to three outright underdog winners. But a 1-4 finish the final two weeks cost us a small winning season. Some interesting and disappointing results in Week 16 was part of an ongoing season that produced some mismanagement by coaches, like Cleveland's, which I recapped in the Week 17 analysis. Of course, Cleveland's coach was given the boot, and the Browns are going to be much better moving forward providing Cleveland fans (and bettors) more positive and profitable results.
Our 3-year NFL run on these pages is now 77-54 ATS (58.8%) That's selecting almost exclusively underdogs (line moves can flip from 'Dog to favorite and a few selections of PK to -2 priced like underdog).
We'll be backing the Browns in Week 1 this year, and continue to work towards making good decisions and plays to stay on the leaderboard in our NFL point spread prognosis – doggy style. Our history of producing ATS winners selecting favorites and underdogs includes a my journey and story on a run of 8 straight winning and profitable NFL seasons while hitting better than 57% ATS on nearly 650 plays.
Strategies and Sports Betting Stories
I did sell sports picks and plays and work for a company more than nine years ago while providing written game analysis. I also discussed the games each week on a widely popular sports handicapping show in Las Vegas heard in more than 50 markets nationwide and SiriusXM radio.
So it's clear, I do not tout or sell plays any longer through companies looking to profit from my experience. I'm more than a handicapper as I cover the sports and betting industry in a number of ways for various companies and outlets including Forbes, where I provide insight on sports betting and events with information you can bet on. That includes on the NFL Draft, which I planned on attending, but was also impacted and cancelled in Las Vegas during the continued COVID-19 health crisis. I'm also a credentialed media member and attend various sporting events along with sports and betting industry events like the Global Gaming Expo presented by the American Gaming Association, which is also cancelled next month in Las Vegas.
I provide this underdog exercise as a way to research, educate and even entertain. All said and success aside, I do this as a labor of love and to provide information and insight to assist others in their pursuit of profit. It's always fun and more enjoyable to win and make money, but hopefully you can take some of the information and learn as you earn with potential bets you may find of interest.
Remember, we cannot control the market or line moves at the leading online sportsbooks, and I post this late in the week when many lines have already moved from bets that may have already been placed. But hopefully this provides some insight and information you can bet on.
The 2020 NFL season will be like none other, as we’ve already seen the emotional impact on fans, players, teams and management and everyone involved with the National Football League. The NFL is America’s biggest betting and most popular major sport. I added some of the stats from the American Gaming Association to a recent article showing that 33 million Americans are ready to wager on the 2020 NFL season. The COVID-19 crisis is ongoing, and we’ll have more hazards and rough to navigate ahead. Keep your emotions in check and enjoy the games. Approach each week with new energy and keep your focus on your path from tee to green. I hope you profit from the experience as we fire for more fairway’s and green this football season.
Betting NFL Week 1
Week 1 in the NFL is always an interesting one as the lines have been posted by the bookmakers and online sportsbooks for more than three months. But in the final days before kickoff, the sportsbooks take the most bets and we see the most point spread and line movement. Fairway's Football Forecast can only advise that you do your best to shop and get the best lines, but also recognize that this exercise and underdog picks series is provided at the end of the week and some of the lines move against us. You can use some of the picks, insight and information in your teaser bets or maybe you can even hit a parlay. Of course, mismangement of your money will only lead to regression and add to the online bookmakers bottom line and even those sportsbooks that provide top payouts.
Sharps hitting underdogs can move lines off key numbers, and the biggest line moves at the leading online sportsbooks for Week 1 are:
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) at New York Giants (Monday). Up from -3 but still -5.5 at leading online sportsbook BookMaker.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Denver Broncos (Monday) up from Broncos as 2.5-point favorite at opener to Pick 'em, and now Titans favored.
Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers – up from PK ‘em
William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich noted that the Raiders line "is probably heading to 3.5." He added "there’s definitely a sharp influence. It’s a combination of sharps and the public. They all like the Raiders."
The Broncos were originally a 2.5-point favorite and down to Pick 'em prior to this weeks season ending ankle injury to Broncos 8-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller. Another publicist for a leading online sportsbook added, "Typically defensive players don’t notably impact the spread, but a player of Miller’s caliber is an exception. Even then we’d only expect the line to move about 1 point at most so this market adjustment initially seems excessive."
The timing of the Miller injury is significant and gets more media attention as the season kicks off. Teams will deal with injuries throughout the season and now there is the potential of players also becoming sidelined with the Coronavirus and missing action while adhering to the NFL's strict protocols and guidelines. Just more to consider and navigate this season on we make the plays, picks and shoot for profit on the way to the endzone.
NFL Week 1 Picks
Just brief analysis this week as this opening update becomes a longer play call and game plan for the season ahead. I'll add more stats, ATS info and analysis for selected games moving forward, and chip-in more insight and Inside the Numbers information you can bet on. Hopefully you'll gain more insight into NFL handicapping and betting, and add additional arsenal to your game to learn as you earn.
455 Cleveland (+8) at Baltimore - Browns Moneyline +270
462 Atlanta (+2.5) vs. Seattle - Falcons Moneyline +125
473 Arizona (+7) at San Francisco - Cardinals Moneyline +250
These plays all fit proven, profitable profiles on opening week of teams that had losing seasons last year facing winning teams and/or playoff participants. Two teams won their divisions and had first round bye's in the playoffs - Baltimore and San Francisco.
Cleveland at Baltimore
The Browns are high on my list as an improved team this year, and with no home field edge or fans in Baltimore, this price is too high. The market agrees, as we're seeing 7.5 now showing too so bet this before it hits 7 on game day. Cleveland's offense faced the most difficult slate of opposing defenses in 2019. It showed in the stats too as the Browns finished in the lower third of total offense (341 YPG) and league average yards-per-play (5.6). Those numbers will improve this year with better players, health, coaching, cohesion, personnel, play calling and execution. The Browns defensive line is better, and the offensive line definitely improved with additions and draft. We know the play calling will be better and utilize QB Baker Mayfield's talent and play-action abilities better, and the running game will be even better. Maybe not like the Ravens run heavy game that includes QB Lamar Jackson and a juggernaut Baltimore offense that led the AFC at 415 YPG while executing at 6.1 yards per play and leading the NFL in scoring at 32 points per game. The Ravens did lose a top offensive guard to retirement. Baltimore is still expected to be strong, but some regression is ahead and we'll buy on the Browns early in Week 1.
Seattle at Atlanta
Any points are desirable on the Falcons in this opening week match-up, as Atlanta gets a fresh start following last seasons injury-riddled campaign. As always, we suggest making some moneyline bets on competitively-lined underdogs at reduced wagers to include with your side bets. The Falcons offense is healthy and returns intact. They will be better than league-average (5.5 YPPL) like last year and take advantage of a suspect Seahawks defense that is below average again after allowoing 6.0 yards per play last season. Seattle still made the playoffs last season, thanks to the continued exceptonal play of QB Russell Wilson. Clearly, the Falcons should be added to your Week 1 teaser wagers and betting portfolio as well. Playing over the total in these early games may be more difficult with no preseason games or information and personnel to evalute. But with proven and veteran quarterbacks in place and suspect defenses, this looks like a game that can surpass the posted total, which will likely rise more by game day.
Arizona at San Francisco
The Cardinals played the 49ers tough in a pair of higher-scoring losses last year as double-digit underdogs. The 49ers were one of those losing teams entering last season that turned in around in a major way. San Francisco went from 4-12 to 13-3 and a Super Bowl appearance in one season. The 49ers were a great example of a losing and under-rated team the previous season exploding onto the scene to reward value bettors and those recognizing improved teams. San Francisco started last season 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS. It wasn't until Week 7 that the 49ers were favorted by this big a number when they failed to cover against a very week and wounded Washington team in the rain. Now it's Arizona's time to shine from the sunshine state and make their improvement off a 5-11 season. Defense needs work, but the 49ers stop unit does not appear as strong this year either.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and betting analyst, and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay