Back to the futures: Biggest market moves and reactions to NFL Week 1

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray playing against the Seattle Seahawks

The NFL is back, and bettors took notice. According to GeoComply, there were 58.2 million betting transactions across 18 states and the District of Columbia from Thursday through Sunday last week. This represents a 126% increase from the same period of the 2020 NFL season when GeoComply processed 25.8 million transactions.

“Handle was excellent,” said Westgate Superbook Risk Manager Rex Beyers. Which should come as no surprise, as the Superbook recently opened its doors in New Jersey and Colorado, two of the most lucrative betting markets in the country. “We expect those numbers to continue to rise throughout the season as people familiarize themselves with the Superbook product,” Beyers added.

As for the product on the field, my biggest takeaway after Week 1 was the performances by underdogs and road teams. With fans back in the stands, I expected positive regression for home teams in 2021 after they finished with a sub-.500 overall record for the first time ever in 2020. Well, we will have to wait at least another week for that. Road teams went 9-6 ATS and 8-7 SU with one game taking place at a neutral site (Saints vs. Packers). But the pooches were the bigger surprise as the underdogs went 12-4 ATS, the best record against the number in any Week 1 in the Super Bowl era. The nine outright victories for underdogs were the most in any single week since 1983.

There were also several noteworthy moves in the futures market, as sportsbooks try to gauge reaction and sentiment to what transpired on the field.

Arizona Cardinals: +4800 to +3400 to win Super Bowl

Arizona’s defense dominated a very talented Titans’ offensive line and held Derrick Henry (58 yards) to his lowest regular-season rushing yards total since Week 4 of last season. The books noticed as well, with FanDuel shifting the Cardinals’ Super Bowl number from +4800 to +3400 by Sunday evening. Arizona will be favored in their next two games (vs. Vikings, at Jaguars) and there should be more movement to the upside before back-to-back divisional games at the Rams and home to the 49ers in Weeks 4 and 5, which will provide the true litmus test for Kyler Murray and company.

New Orleans Saints: +3000 to +2500 to win Super Bowl

Sean Payton


The Saints’ drubbing of the Packers was perhaps even more eye-opening. New Orleans held the Green Bay offense and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers to a paltry three points, the lowest scoring output of any team in Week 1. “Hard not to be impressed with what New Orleans did, although Green Bay was a total no-show,” said Beyers. The Saints went from +3000 to +2500 in the Super Bowl market on FanDuel Sunday night but be careful buying in on that number. New Orleans will now face two difficult road tests the next two weeks (at Panthers, at Patriots), which should give us a better glimpse into the consistency of Jameis Winston.

Check out our betting reaction to the Sunday Week 1 games, where the return of fans didn’t see a return of home-field advantage

Pittsburgh Steelers: +440 to +340 to win AFC North

NFL Teaser

CREDIT – Philip G. Pavely (USA Today)

The Steelers’ road win over the Bills accounted for the biggest outright underdog victory of the weekend. It also was a big winner for the books with the majority of action, including a lot of teaser money, coming in on the home favorite. “We took a decent bet on Buffalo against the Steelers back in mid-July so we needed Pittsburgh to cover,” said Beyers. The Steelers’ odds to win the AFC North got chopped down from +440 to +340 on FanDuel Sportsbook and there is potential for more movement to the upside next week as Pittsburgh gets a favorable scheduling spot at home against the Raiders, who enter on short rest after their thrilling OT win Monday night.

The Browns are currently the favorite to win the division at +135, with the Ravens just behind at +165. Cleveland should get back to .500 this week as they are double-digit favorites against the Texans, but the Ravens are in danger of sinking further as they will be short home underdogs Sunday night against the Chiefs.

Other Notable Moves: NFC West QBs headline MVP market

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) smiles as he leaves the field after defeating the Chicago Bears at SoFi Stadium

CREDIT – Jayne Kamin-Oncea (USA Today)

Kyler Murray had the biggest move of any one player in the MVP market on Sunday, going from +2500 to +900 on BetMGM after a dominant performance against the Titans. As mentioned earlier in the article, Arizona’s soft schedule over the next two weeks might allow for more movement to the upside, but this is not a bet I would consider making at this price.

Matthew Stafford and Jameis Winston both saw their numbers cut in half on Sunday. Stafford went from +2000 to +1000 on BetMGM and is an intriguing bet considering the strength of the Rams team as a whole. Winston went from +5000 to +2500 and we will learn a lot more about his chances on Sunday when the Saints travel to Carolina for a tough divisional road matchup against the Panthers. If New Orleans impresses again this week, their futures numbers will see significant movement once again.

Check out Andrew Ortenberg’s analysis on the MNF thriller between the Ravens and Raiders

Pickswise is the home of NFL Picks. Check out our latest playoff picks and round-by-round analysis as well as our free Super Bowl predictions.

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