With the return of the NFL, Pro Football Network also welcomes back our new and improved Sheep Report. Every week, we will break down some of the early betting lines, players props, and totals that have piqued the interest of both sharps and the public alike. The 2020 season is one of the most anticipated in recent memory, and with so many eyes on each game, following the money will be more critical than ever. These lines have been up for months, and the markets have had time to settle into place. However, with that being said, we will still try and find value with these three Week 1 NFL best bets.
2020 NFL Week 1 lines, player props, totals, and best bets
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Los Angeles Rams
Early this summer, when these lines were initially released, the PFN betting team wrote about some of their early impressions. This game was immediately on my radar as one that could see some significant line movement.
Initially, the Dallas Cowboys opened as -2 favorites on the spread, -127 on the moneyline. Dallas is coming into the 2020 season with high expectations, with a new head coach and a plethora of offensive talent in place.
However, they opened as less than a field goal favorite on the road against a Los Angeles Rams team that will be unveiling their new stadium. At over $5 billion, the stadium is the most expensive in the NFL and has been under construction for more than three years.
So, where did this line go after opening? Well, ultimately, it did not change all that much. According to Sports Books Review, only 57% of wagers have been on the Cowboys. That has pushed the spread right onto the key number of three, where it has remained stagnant. Realistically, this means that there is enough money coming in on both sides to keep this spread in place.
As I mentioned when these lines were released, this number does not worry me. Laying the points with Dallas is one of my top NFL week 1 best bets to begin the 2020 season.
“If you can still get this under the key number of three, I recommend doing so now. I can see this one being a high scoring affair, with Dallas still having question marks in their secondary. If it is going to be an offensive matchup, I will take Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and CeeDee Lamb over Jared Goff, Darrell Henderson, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods.”
For those of you who might be worried about the fact that this is the first game in the Rams’ new stadium, you shouldn’t be. Since 2000, 16 teams have opened new stadiums, and in those games, the home team is just 8-8.
This number might continue to climb, but I think there is value right up until -6. The Cowboys are the better team here; let’s hop on them early before the market adjusts to how good they are.
Is sharp action moving the line in one of the NFC East showdowns?
Philadelphia Eagles (-6) at The Washington Football Team
This one is quite confusing. The Philadelphia Eagles will be traveling to Washington to take on The Football Team, where they opened as -7 favorites on the spread, -290 on the moneyline. According to the Action Network, 77% of the bets are coming in on the Eagles. Interestingly enough, this number is now available at -6.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that some people out there with huge wallets are placing significant wagers on the home team to cover the spread.
I struggled to figure this one out based solely on the rosters of both these teams. Washington is now down to rookie running back Antonio Gibson in the backfield, while Dwayne Haskins will be taking the reigns at quarterback. New head coach Ron Rivera is a great addition, and the team is sure to have a solid defense, but is that enough for me to think they have enough weapons to take on last year’s NFC East champions?
The short answer is no. Granted, the Eagles are struggling with injuries already, their offensive line falling apart more and more each week, but they still have Carson Wentz and one of the best RBs in the game with Miles Sanders. Their defensive line is arguably a top-5 unit, while their secondary got a massive boost with the addition of Darius Slay.
What is making the “sharps” take Washington then? Well, last year’s team did play Philadelphia hard the two times they went up against each other, with the Eagles getting a five-point win and failing to cover the spread in their first meeting. Also, home underdogs who won six or fewer games the previous season are 48-40 (54.5%) historically. This is a decent enough trend that sharps may be latching onto with Washington.
Will opening night be as high scoring as everyone expects?
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)
This Thursday night, Deshaun Watson will be traveling to Kansas City to take on Patrick Mahomes. It is highly regarded as one of the most exciting matchups of opening week, especially considering the way the last game between these two went down.
For those that might not remember, Houston lost by 20 points in the playoffs to the Chiefs after blowing a 24-point lead. There were 82 points scored in that game. The total for this showdown opened at a reasonable 55.5.
The public, and football fans in general, love betting overs. It is human nature to want to root for as much scoring as possible when watching a game. Vegas knows this, and so do the sharps. That is likely why this total has been bet down to 53.5 in some places. That is important because it crosses the key number of 54.
This is your typical public against sharp play. Do we join the public on the over or hope for a low scoring affair with the sharps? I will join the public.
There is too much offensive firepower in this one to take the under. Both teams have average defenses with above-average offenses. Even without DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans will be able to score. Plus, the Chiefs have scored more Week 1 points than any team in the NFL since 2017. Andy Reid knows how to get his team ready for the first week of the season, and I don’t expect it to be any different in 2020.