Week 1 was difficult to figure heading into action, as the normal pomp and circumstance of opening day across the National Football League was a bit muted during this COVID era. We saw a smattering of fans allowed to attend the Thursday Night Football game between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs. In the Sunday slate of games, only the Jacksonville Jaguars allowed fans in for their home game against the Indianapolis Colts. The normal places where fans make a huge difference with their noise did not affect sides or totals. But overall the action was good, and we had some pretty decent football, all things considered. Remember, there were no preseason games, so this was the first game action for a lot of these teams since last winter.
The lowest total on the board, and the only one in the 30’s, was the AFC East tussle between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. If you were an over bettor, you liked the fast start, as the Bills tossed up a 14-0 lead after 15 minutes, and it was 21-3 at halftime. We had a single-digit number on the board in the third quarter, and the fourth quarter probably should have, too. However, the Jets scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown with just :54 left in regulation to flip the total from under to over. Ouch.
The highest total for Sunday’s slate of games was the Seattle Seahawks-Atlanta Falcons (49.5) game, which saw a total of 63 points. There were just 26 points on the board at halftime, and the total really could have gone either way. The total was stuck at 49 from 9:35 of the fourth quarter to 3:45 when Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde saved the day with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. Falcons WR Calvin Ridley dealt a crushing blow to under teaser bettors with a 7-yard scoring reception with just :33 remaining.
The Thursday night game barely inched ‘over’, and depending on when the wager was placed, the ‘under’ hit. We’ll call it an over because it closed at 53.5. The Sunday Night game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams at the pristine SoFi Stadium near LAX was a defensive battle with just 37 total points and a 51-point total on the board. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants in the early MNF battle, and the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos in the late-night MNF affair, each went under. During the early going, the ‘over’ is just 1-3 (25.0%) in four primetime games.
In 2019, the ‘over’ was just 17-31-1 (35.4%) during the primetime schedule, a stark change from the previous six-year span. The over was ahead of the under in five of the six seasons from 2013-18, including an amazing 66.0% (33-17) clip in 2014.