An Early Look at Week One Totals (Best Bets)
Now that we’re one week removed from the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, it’s finally time to start breaking down specific games from a betting perspective. This year, we’re making a point to analyze often-neglected totals, so here some initial over/unders to size up for Week 1. To see how the total began and for some tips on wagers, check out our history of the total.
Let’s go game-by-game from high to low.
51 -- Houston Texans at New England Patriots: It feels as though this one will come down a little between now and game day. The Pats have been known to start slow and will be far from comfortable on offense, while it’s tough to tell how Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will look in his return from a major knee injury. Both defenses struggled at times last year, but Houston has J.J. Watt back and New England always has Bill Belichick. Only 17 games had totals of 51 or higher last season, and only six of those went over. Stats say: Bet the under.
49.5 -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: This was in the 50s earlier in the offseason and still has room to come down. The Saints defense is underrated, the Bucs will be using a backup quarterback and New Orleans will also be without a key offensive weapon in Mark Ingram. When these teams met in New Orleans last November, they combined for 40 points.
49.5 -- Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders: You should probably wait for clarity on both Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack before pulling the trigger here, but the under would be a no-brainer at 49.5 if both play. There’s a very good chance these offenses fail to live up to the hype out of the gates.
47.5 -- Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers: These teams scored a grand total of 77 points in their two meetings last season, and now the Chiefs have a less proven quarterback. Buying this line is buying Patrick Mahomes, and I’m not ready to do that yet.
47.5 -- Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: This looks like one of the least bettable totals of the week, just because we don’t know what to expect from a new-look Chicago offense. I’d wait a week or two before putting big money on or against the Bears under Matt Nagy. Wouldn’t touch this unless it dropped dramatically, and the under seems risky considering the firepower both teams possess.
46.5 -- Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: Nobody knows what to make of the new-look Browns, and let’s remember that Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh offense started slowly after Bell’s holdout last year. The last five matchups between the Steelers and Browns that have involved regular starters have all contained 41 points or fewer.
46 -- San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings: This might be inflated by the fact there’s hype surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers scored 78 points in their last two games in 2017. The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league, and they’ve had months to study Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense. Thinking this should be in the low-40s.
46 -- Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts: So much has changed with the Colts that you’d be better off waiting here, especially since this total is basically in toss-up territory and the Bengals are pretty erratic.
45.5 -- Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles: Last year’s season opener was one of the highest-scoring games of the year, but I’m digging the under here. The Eagles have questions at quarterback regardless of who starts, the Falcons offense hasn’t been right since 2016 and both teams are stellar on defense. I’m expecting big things from a young and fast Atlanta D in 2018, and that could start here.
45 -- Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: Miami is going to be really bad this season and the Tennessee offense still has a lot to prove. This total should be lower.
44 -- Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals: Alex Smith and Sam Bradford can light it up when they’re right, and both are healthy entering the regular season. Neither defense looks great, so it wouldn’t be shocking if this were a shootout.
44 -- New York Jets at Detroit Lions: Too many variables with the Jets for this to be predictable, which is why the total is basically the NFL average. The median and average total last season was 44.
43.5 -- Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants: Both of these offenses have the ability to explode this season, but both teams are stronger on the other side of the ball. This isn’t the week to get cocky regarding Eli Manning or Blake Bortles.
43.5 -- Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers: I get why this is a bit low because both defenses look as though they’ll be strong and there are questions regarding both offenses. Still, this is a game with Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. You might want to take advantage of the fact Vegas hasn’t shaded the over in a game involving America’s Team.
42 -- Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos: I don’t think Vegas has accounted for how much worse the Seahawks defense has become and how much better the Denver offense has become. The Seahawks also look strong (and balanced for once) on the offensive side of the ball, so I’m expecting 45-50 points here. If you want to bet an over, this is a good game.
41 -- Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens: Vegas rightly went low here. This is a Ravens team that surrendered just 10 points in the first two games of the 2017 season, and the Bills have a strong defense and a questionable offense. I don’t see this going over 41 unless there’s a bunch of scoring on D or the Baltimore offense goes off. Would prefer a slightly higher total for an under bet, but I think this one is still higher than it should be.
To recap: With each new year, hope springs eternal as we have all offseason to talk ourselves into new offenses. So do oddsmakers. 10 of these games are over the average and median total of 44 last season. While the over is always bettors favorite, in Week One, smart money will find the unders.