The NFL Week 1 lines have been on the betting board for four months, and there have been several significant moves and sharp plays.
“Most of these lines, there’s a story attached to them,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said.
The biggest line move has seen the Saints drop from 3-point home favorites over the Packers to 4-point underdogs in a game that was moved from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, because of Hurricane Ida.
When the opening line was posted in May, it was unclear if reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers would return to Green Bay.
“We didn’t know what Rodgers was going to do at that point, and we didn’t know (Saints star wideout) Michael Thomas would be out, either,” Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett said. “That was a we-don’t-know line. The Saints, with Thomas, would certainly be more than -3 against (backup Packers quarterback) Jordan Love.
“With Rodgers in and Thomas out, the market said Packers -3. We went to -4 with the location change and the Saints losing home-field advantage.”
In another big move, the Colts have dipped from 3-point home favorites over the Seahawks to 3-point underdogs.
“It’s all injury information,” Salmons said. “It’s reflective of Carson Wentz getting hurt and having surgery. They said he’d be out five to 13 weeks, and now it looks like he’s going to play. Then their best guard (Quenton Nelson) got hurt and had the exact same surgery, and now it looks like he’s going to play.
“But their starting tackle got hurt, and he’s out for the year, and (receiver) T.Y. Hilton got hurt and he’s not playing.”
Likewise, the Broncos have shot up to 3-point road favorites over the injury-riddled Giants after the line opened at 1. Salmons doesn’t expect New York tight end Evan Engram to play Sunday, receiver Kenny Golladay missed the entire preseason and running back Saquon Barkley is expected to see limited action.
“The Giants just have so many injuries,” Salmons said. “It’s the combination of one team looking good and the other having injury after injury.
“Two teams had a home run preseason. One was the Ravens because that’s what they do, they win every preseason game. And the other one was Denver. They had a great preseason.”
Circa took sharp action on the Broncos -1, and professional sports bettor Jeff Whitelaw played Denver -2.
“The Giants’ offensive line does not look very strong, and Denver is a much improved team,” Whitelaw said. “Von Miller missed last year, and they had also lost Bradley Chubb. Teddy Bridgewater is a slight improvement (over QB Drew Lock) as well.
“Whether Barkley plays or not, I like Denver. I like them even more if Barkley doesn’t play.”
The SuperBook moved New England from -2½ to -3 over Miami after taking a sharp bet on the Patriots. The line stayed at -3 after QB Cam Newton was cut in favor of rookie Mac Jones and is now at -3 (-120).
Whitelaw played the Pats -2½.
“New England made a good choice getting rid of Cam Newton,” he said. “I think Mac Jones will be way better.”
The Chiefs opened as 6½-point home favorites over the Browns, but sharp action on the underdogs has caused the line to drop to as low as 5 at Circa.
“There’s a ton of sharp support on Cleveland,” Salmons said. “I’m pretty sure that line will go higher as we get closer to kickoff. But that’s a game the sharps may not let get too high because Cleveland is a really solid team.”
Circa and the SuperBook also took sharp bets on the Eagles +3½ over the Falcons.
Buffalo opened at -6 over Pittsburgh, and the line reached 7 before settling at 6½.
“There were some rumors about T.J. Watt not playing that proved not to be true, so they took 7 back,” Salmons said.
Whitelaw, a Buffalo native, was one of those bettors who took the Steelers +7.
“Pittsburgh drafted the Alabama running back (Najee Harris), and their defense is outstanding,” he said. “Everybody forgets Pittsburgh was 11-0 last year, then they fell apart. This is still a decent team.
“The Steelers have too good of a defense to be getting seven points. With that said, Buffalo is a very, very good team. I think Buffalo will win a close game.”