In a five-year stretch beginning in 2006, blindly betting NFL Week 1 unders would have been extremely profitable. The under went 51-28-1 overall, a rate of 64.5 percent.
A recent study, taking a sample of all Week 1 games from 2000 to 2010, found similar results. The study revealed that betting Week 1 unders during the sampled period yielded a statistically significant profit of 13.6 percent per game.
“Popular wisdom regarding athletics is that offenses are at a relative disadvantage in the early portion of seasons,” the authors write. “This anecdotal belief holds true … This is reflected in lower offensive yardage, fewer first downs, and fewer points scored. While total points scored are significantly lower in Week 1 of NFL seasons, bookmakers fail to reduce the total lines posted on these games.”
You’ll notice that the five-year sample provided in the opening paragraph didn’t address the 2011 season. Neither did the study. And, of course, overs went 12-3-1 last year.
But last year was different, or at least we think it was. The NFL lockout created an offseason unlike any we’ve ever seen before, and bookmakers overadjusted to compensate for what was expected to be a defense-dominated league in the early part of the season.
[Related: Warren Sharp provides analysis on Week 1 totals.]
The average Week 1 over/under per game in 2011 was 40.5, and in previous years, the average has been roughly a point higher at most. This year’s average total is 44, meaning that it’s a full field goal higher than in 2011.
If you think last year was truly an outlier, now might be the time to get in on a few ‘under’ bets you like.
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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