NFL Week 1 Betting Preview: How To Bet $20 on the First Sunday
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Tomlin.
It's finally NFL season. You're ready for this. Your favorite seat is comfy, your snacks are delicious and your Sunday Ticket is loaded. You've listened to your favorite podcasts while walking your dog, read the season previews and are totally OK with how high you reached for Justin Fields in all of your fantasy drafts.
And given that it's football, you'd love to bet a little bit. After all, how can the Falcons only be 3.5-point favorites against the Panthers?
But you're not a pro bettor. You're not a big-time bettor. You just want to have a little fun betting on the games, give yourself something to sweat in the group text.
I've got you covered.
I've gone through our expansive NFL Week 1 content to find you not only the best, but the most fun way to take $20 and bet a little NFL football. If all goes well, you just might be able to brag to your friends about it — if not, well, at least you had a reason to see if the Texans can hang with the Ravens.
Here's how to bet $20 on the NFL this weekend.
If you're looking for more NFL action, make sure to check out the Favorites podcast and the FREE Pick 'Em Contest featuring over $100,000 in prizes.
$5 SPREAD PLAY
New England +4
Let's get you started with a good ol' fashioned gross play. We're going to fade the defending NFC champion and current conference favorite — the Philadelphia Eagles. Why? Let's start with a trend.
Super Bowl losers are a disastrous 4–19 against the spread (ATS) this century in their following game, including just 9–14 straight up (SU).
Predictably, the public (non-big-money bettors) are on the Eagles, with 61% of the tickets in the Action Network app backing them on the spread. But the money, the "sharp" indication, is on the Patriots, with 54% on New England.
Speaking of, professional bettor Simon Hunter (co-host of the Favorites podcast) also loves this bet and says the pros have been on it for months.
That's why this has ticked down from +4.5 over the summer.
The Patriots have struggled with running quarterbacks, but you get Bill Belichick with extra time to prepare. New England's offense is likely improved with Bill O'Brien now the offensive coordinator.
At home, on Tom Brady Day, at Gillette Stadium, with the Super Bowl hangover. Jump right in.
$5 TOTAL PLAY
Team Total Over 20.5
Our Anthony Dabbundo laid this out in his "Pass/Lean/Bet" article:
"The 49ers defense will still be quite good up front, but you could see some regression in the secondary. DeMeco Ryans is gone as defensive coordinator, and Steve Wilks' career resumé as a defensive coordinator is quite middling. From a talent perspective, the secondary isn't nearly as talented and didn't grade out as well by Pro Football Focus as the Niners' front seven."
Our own Sean Koerner also projects this game going over.
This lets you root for the home team and an under-the-radar team in a "Rah-Rah Mike Tomlin" spot, without needing to worry about Brock Purdy and the Niners' offense.
$5 ROUND ROBIN: (3-WAY, 10 BETS AT .50 CENTS PER BET) ON
- Vikings ML -255
- Seahawks ML -250
- Packers ML +100
- Titans ML +146
- Texans ML +390
For the uninitiated, a round robin features a combination of parlays. So here we have five teams that we're going to put into three-team parlays. We've got two favorites, two slight coin-flip underdogs and one long shot.
If we hit them all? A good $53.25 in profit.
The Vikings face a Buccaneers team coached by Todd Bowles — 34-50 in his career; 12-35 (25%) as an underdog SU, per BetLabs — quarterbacked by Baker Mayfield — 33-39 SU; 10-24, (29%) as an underdog.
The Vikings were the luckiest team in the league last season. That's not my opinion, that's actual fact backed by our Luck Rankings. But there's been so much conversation around the luck factor that the Vikings are somehow probably a little underrated in this spot. Kirk Cousins is 34-14 as a home favorite in his career.
Cooper Kupp (hamstring) is out for the Rams, a team that may very well be starting over soon. Pete Carroll is 57-21 as a home favorite and 5-0 in home openers.
The Packers take on a trendy Chicago team, but it's Green Bay that's gotten a lot of action from future bettors in preseason. If there's one game where it feels like one team is getting too much credit, it's the Bears, who have a lot of unproven elements.
Tennessee is another coin-flip game. Bettors have loved Tennessee as 3-point dogs in New Orleans. You get Mike Vrabel over Dennis Allen in the coaching matchup, and while Derek Carr has the edge on Ryan Tannehill, the Titans are a tough team as dogs.
Finally, we have the long shot — the Texans. Houston features a rookie head coach with a rookie quarterback, on the road vs. a playoff contender. Yikes.
But Houston features what's considered to be an up-and-coming defense, and the Ravens are trying to establish a new offensive scheme under new coordinator Todd Monken.
So, let's have some fun and root for what would be the wildest upset in the week. This ROI machine is Brandon Anderson's favorite Week 1 bet when it comes to the spread, and he's on the moneyline as well.
$5 SAME GAME PARLAY
- Chargers ML -154
- Over 50.5
- Austin Ekeler Anytime TD -168
The Chargers romped in this matchup last year by limiting the Dolphins' ability to move up the middle of the field in the passing game. This is the most entertaining game in the late afternoon slate, so we're going to bet on a fun game with the home team winning.
These two teams were bottom 10 in defensive explosive plays allowed in 2022. With so much time to prepare, Mike McDaniel should have solved the Chargers defense this time around, while the Bolts are at home and should also be able to move the ball despite having no real home-field advantage.
So we combine that with Austin Ekeler, who our Giles Gallant notes scored in 12-of-17 games last year. The number on Ekeler at -154 is not great compared to his average odds (-145), but we're correlating bets for a shootout that features at least one Ekeler TD.
If you're looking for more ways to make picks while not busting out a big bankroll, be sure to check out the Favorites Podcast's FREE NFL Pick 'Em sponsored by Bet365 with over $100,000 in prize money.
As always, bet responsibly, even with $20, and enjoy the NFL kickoff!