The 2011 NFL season kicks off one week from today with New Orleans Saints at the Green Bay Packers and I couldn’t possibly be more excited. Coming off the second best season of my NFL betting career where I went 64-38 (62.7%) against the spread, I’m rolled up and have already made my week 1 wagers. I’ll share those wagers in this post, but before I do, I wanted to mention this is the first of twenty posts I’ll be making here at TheSportsGeek.com this season. You’ll find a new post with my betting picks each and every week. With that info now shared, let me go ahead and get started with my 2011 NFL week 1 picks.
September 8, 2011 Thursday Night Game Season Opener
As I mentioned in the intro, the 2011 season kicks offs on September 8, 2011 with the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers hosting The Crescent City’s finest, the New Orleans Saints. The early line for this game opened nearly a month ago with Packers as 5.5 favorites, but since has settled to Packers -4 / Saints +4 with an over/under betting total of 47. It’s the later line, the total, which has me interested. First, in a true tout like fashion, allow me to ramble off some meaningless stats – the previous four NFL openers (all played on Thursday night) went under the posted betting total; the New Orleans Saints played in two of those four games (2007, and 2010). Now for stats that do matter, both the Saint and Packers are coming into the season with high rated offenses, and this game appears to have high scoring written all over it. With that said, I just finished entering my bet of UNDER 47 -106 for this game.
The reason I took under is that even with the Saints suspect defense and their desire to exchange offensive punches with the Packers, I don’t expect the Packers are going to let them. The Packers defense matches well in this game, Grant is back healthy running the ball, they have one the best tight end receiver options to throw to on third downs. The Packers both can and should attempt to win this one playing a managed game that involves dominating time of possession. It’s not in the Packers style to “kill the clock”, but managing it, this one should fall under 47 points. If the Saints do jump out to a quick start my bet is probably in trouble but, at u47 -106, this bet has too much value to pass up.
September 11, 2011 – Week 1 Sunday 1PM Games
There are lot great week one match ups played at 1PM, but all are near stalemates when trying to find value. The games I’m most interested in watching are the Steelers +2.5 @ Ravens -2.5, Eagles -4.5 @ Rams +4.5 and Lions +2 @ Buccs -2. It was only the later game I found a solid +EV wagering option on and that was with putting them as part of a 2-team teaser which give me Patriots -1.5 and Lions +7.5 @ +105. I made this wager at www.5dimes.com using the 5-point “ties win” option so my ticket actually reads Patriots -2 and Lions +7 but consider “ties win” this the same as having -1.5 and +7.5. The Lions leg falls under basic teaser strategy also known as “wong teasers”, but besides that Detroit matches up very well in this game. Remember this is a rematch from week 15 of last season where Detroit snapped its 27-game road losing streak to beat the Buccs 23-20 in a game that was decided in overtime. The Lions did this with their third string QB Drew Stanton under center and with no chance of playoffs or anything else on the line. Meanwhile this was a must win game for Tampa Bay who were coming into it with an 8-6 record and strong chance at the playoffs. While I wouldn’t put too much stock in a single game from last season, the fact a much better Detroit team will be playing week 1, and that Tampa Bay has a long history of playing close games at home, I’m really sold on this leg of the teaser.
The other leg is straight math based selection. When I remove vig from the current moneyline of Patriots -300 / Dolphins +250 I see the market is giving the Patriots about a 72.4% chance of winning the game outright. I also know from my push charts that -7 road favorites lose by exactly 1 point about 2.2% of the time. This means the Patriots chances of cover -1.5 are about 70.2%. Using the math covered in our article on teaser betting, in a 2-team teaser at +105, each team needs to cover the modified point spread 69.8% of the time for the wager to have neutral expected value. Considering the market has them to cover about 0.4% more often than that, this is a teaser leg with small positive expectation on its own, and a great match for the Lions leg I’m confident about.
September 11, 2011 – Week 1 Sunday 4PM Games
There are a total of four games played at 4PM, and I’ve made wagers on two of them. The ones I skipped were the Seahawks @ 49ers and Vikings @ Chargers due to not seeing much value on either of those games.
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals -6.5 -110: this an awesome line for this game available at leading US friendly betting site www.betonline.com. These two sites each have unique position as other bookmakers have the Cardinals as 7 point favorites over the Carolina Panthers. I’m going with the side of other bookies here and against BetOnline and grabbing the Cardinals.
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins
NY Giants -3 -110: Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin stated days ago that his team is not ready for the Redskins in their season opener. Good thing for him and his team, there are still 10 days left to game plan and get ready. There’s no question here Coughlin is one the best coaches and in the league and even with the Redskins Blitz heavy defense, Eli Manning has been one the best QBs against the blitz in recent years. The Redskins, as poorly rated as they are, might even still be overrated. While it’s a divisional game with a close spread and anything can happen, I’m more than happy to put a unit down on the Giants for this one.
September 11, 2011 Sunday Night Game Cowboys @ Jets
I have no play on play this on this game. If had to pick to I’d go Cowboys +4.5, but considering I don’t I’m going to pass on this one.
September 11, 2011 NFL Week 1 Monday Night Football
For the opening week of the season there are two Monday night football games. In the earlier game I already took the Patriots -2.5 in a teaser with Lions +7.5. The other final game Week 1 Game of the 2011 season I find quite interesting.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
The NFL preseason doesn’t mean much for many teams, though developing and newly established teams with fresh coaching are often in a position to take it a little more seriously. Although I can’t recall ever betting based on what I’ve seen during the preseason, for this particular game I’m at least considering it as a factor. The Raiders defense gave up an average of 27 points per game in August, while meanwhile the Broncos are practicing harder, saying the right things, and seem really together as a team. In a game that started off close to a PK, I agree and completely understand why the line is now Broncos -3. Me personally I’m taking the side of momentum with this one and betting the Broncos.
2011 NFL Week 1 Picks Recap
Recapping here, there are five wagers I’ve made for the 2011 Week 1.
1) Saints/Packers Under 47 1.06 units to win 1 unit
2) 1 unit to win 1.05 units on a combo bet of Patriots -1.5 / Lions -7.5 @ 5Dimes
3) Cardinals -6.5 -110, 1.1 units to win 1 unit
4) Giants -3 -110 1.1u to win 1u
5) Broncos -3 -110 1.1u to win 1u
Good luck to everyone with their bets and be sure to check back each week of the season for my weekly NFL betting picks.