[Written by Warren Sharp]
There’s no reason to believe linemakers want to see the same damage from square ‘over’ bettors in Week 1 that they uncharacteristically saw in 2011.
As you remember, 2011 was a locked-out offseason, and as a result, linemakers predicted teams would start slowly. So they dropped the average Week 1 total to 40.5, more than one full point lower than the prior three season’s averages (see chart below).
But it wasn’t the offenses that struggled in Week 1 from the lockout, it was the defenses. Teams combined to score 47 points per game in Week 1 last season, a full 10 points higher than 2010 and 9 points more than the prior five-year average. As a result, ‘overs’ surged to 12-3-1, an 80 percent mark.
It was completely uncharacteristic of NFL Week 1.
In recent history (2003-10), NFL Week 1 ‘overs’ have gone 6-10 on average each year, with 38 points per game scored on a 41.5 average total.
After last season’s Week 1 debacle, linemakers didn’t pull any punches this season: They set the average total in these 16 Week 1 games at a whopping 44 points, 3.5 points higher than last year and approximately three points higher than the recent average. A historic number.
This is despite the fact that NFL defenses logically should be further ahead in this season’s Week 1 than they were in 2011′s offseason-shortened Week 1.
On the other hand, scoring is “up” in the NFL, at least according to most pundits and media. Looking at this closely, however, we can see that teams scored 22.18 points per game on average in the regular season last year, which is only 0.34 points more than the previous three-year average. That’s just 0.68 ppg combined per game, far from the 3.5-point adjustment linemakers made to Week 1 totals.
Studying the scoring even closer, we can see that the majority of this increased scoring is relegated to the “top 5″ teams (with the best win-loss record), who in 2011 averaged 29.72 points per game (Packers, Saints, Patriots, 49ers, Ravens). The prior three years, the “top 5″ teams averaged 26.25 points per game, 3.5 ppg fewer.
But aside from these “top 5″ teams, the other 27 teams averaged 20.78 ppg last season, which is actually less than the 21.03 ppg the “non-top 5″ teams averaged the previous three seasons. So, the perception that the NFL is significantly higher scoring does not equal reality. Slightly higher scoring overall? Yes. Best teams scoring significantly more? Yes. Most teams scoring the same (and even slightly less) vs. recent history? Yes.
So the question is, which Week 1 totals have been inflated by linemakers entirely too much, and which have not?
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Current Week 1 totals (via 5Dimes):
Cowboys at Giants 47
Colts at Bears 42
Eagles at Browns 41.5
Bills at Jets 40.5
Redskins at Saints 49.5
Patriots at Titans 48
Jaguars at Vikings 38
Dolphins at Texans 42.5
Rams at Lions 46.5
Falcons at Chiefs 42
49ers at Packers 45
Panthers at Bucs 46.5
Seahawks at Cardinals 41
Steelers at Broncos 44.5
Bengals at Ravens 41
Chargers at Raiders 47.5