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3 NFL Week 1 Underdogs to Cover Spread, 1 to Fade

Underdog bettors: If you have not looked at or played the Week 1 NFL betting odds, you should get started. Week 1 typically produces plenty of upsets, as we saw last season. Dogs had a winning record against the spread (ATS) in three of the last five NFL Week 1s. Underdogs went 10-6 ATS last season and 8-8 on the moneyline.

There are at least five underdogs worth betting online for the opening week of the 2024 season. We’ll look at three that are worth spotlighting and one you should avoid regardless of their line.

3 NFL Week 1 Underdogs to Cover Spread, 1 to Fade
Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills - Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images


Early Look at Week 1 Dogs: 3 Studs and 1 Dud


1. Cardinals to Exploit Slow-Starting Bills

The Arizona Cardinals were actually good last season. Seriously. Against, the spread, that is. They went 9-8 ATS and 3-2 ATS versus AFC opponents. We can’t say the same for the Buffalo Bills, who underachieved with an 8-11 ATS record. On top of that, the Bills were upset in Week 1 for the second time in three seasons. We’re not saying Arizona will beat Buffalo. But if we’re getting seven or more points with the Cardinals …

The Bills tend to crush losing franchises. That was not the case last season. They lost to New England on the road and only managed to win by six points versus the Patriots at home. They also won by only two points against the Chargers, five against the Giants and were upset by Denver.

This is not even factoring that Buffalo lost significant players on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Josh Allen has a new crop of receivers and lost All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer and five-time Pro Bowler Mitch Morse at center.

We simply cannot back Buffalo at these lines. Arizona can hang around and keep this game within single digits. A back-door cover is coming, especially if the line moves to +7½.



2. Wait on Magic Number for New-Look Patriots

While we’re fading the Bills, we’re siding with their archrivals, the New England Patriots. Even with this new regime, getting the Patriots at +9½ and potentially +10 at the Cincinnati Bengals is worth a look. The number opened at +8 and has already been bet up. If it keeps trending this way, +10 is a possibility.

New England has a solid defense, which finished 15th in the NFL in scoring. The Patriots were only blown out twice on the road last season – against Miami and Dallas, the NFL’s two most explosive offenses. The Cincinnati Bengals only finished 16th in scoring last season. They scored 24 or fewer points in 10 of its 17 games. Hence, the total here is just 42.

With the spread and the total, Cincinnati should shut New England down to cover that wide number. But New England will be better on offense with the combo of quarterback  Jacoby Brissett and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

We don’t need many points here, just enough to keep the spread within 10 points. Back the Pats when the NFL lines move to 10.


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3. Jump on Browns at Home

Speaking of the Cleveland Browns, they opened at -1 and have been bet up to +1 against the Dallas Cowboys. The public is high on Dallas for obvious reasons. But did they forgot about the road/home splits for these teams a year ago? As a refresher, Dallas went 4-5 ATS as a visitor compared to 6-3 as a host. It averaged 23.3 points on the road versus 36.8 at home.

Meanwhile, Cleveland allowed 13.9 points at home against 31.3 on the road. As a result, the Browns went 8-1 ATS in Cleveland but just 2-6-1 ATS when traveling. The line should be moving toward Cleveland, not against it.

We don’t just expect Cleveland to cover but to win as well. Dallas did not significantly upgrade during the offseason while the Browns made some key deals. Cleveland traded for promising receiver Jerry Jeudy while also adding Nyheim Hines and D’Onta Foreman to the backfield. It added Devin Bush and Jordan Hicks to the linebacker corps.

Overall, Cleveland got better while Dallas is treading water. And given the line movement, we can’t miss this opportunity to back the Browns as underdogs. This is worth betting on now and again if the line keeps going up.



Jaguars to Get Tamed in Miami

One underdog we’d swipe left on is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Listed as 3½-point underdogs, the Jaguars could get blown out at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins remain a powerful offensive team, which finished second in scoring last season. They went 6-2 ATS as a home favorite and it’s due to consistently blowing out bad teams.

While the Jaguars finished 9-8 in 2023, they went 1-5 to end the season. They were -3 in turnover differential and had their defense fall apart down the stretch. Jacksonville gave up an average of 23.9 points on defense following the bye, including 28+ in four of the last six games.

Jacksonville addressed many of the issues on offense by bolstering the offensive line. But we’re still not sold on this team. The Jaguars either find a way to grind out Miami or they will get left behind in a shootout. And this team is not equipped to keep up with Miami, which is better coached and more consistent. Avoid Jacksonville on the NFL lines.



Odds and information are accurate at the time of writing. Please check with official sources for the latest updates before placing any bets.


Questions Of The Day

Who is the biggest underdog entering NFL Week 1?

The New England Patriots are +9½ on the NFL spreads and +330 on the moneyline before NFL Week 1.

Which NFL team had the best ATS record in 2023?

The Detroit Lions went 14-6-0 against the spread (ATS) in 2023, which is a 70% cover rate.

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