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The first NFL Sunday of 2023 showcased why this sport drives bettors to both euphoria and utter despair. After months of prognosticating and wagering on futures, WIN totals, and props, Week 1 finally allowed bettors to cash in on carefully plotted wagers. But dreams of a big payday were dashed for many by shocking upsets, blowouts, and individual player performances falling short. From survivor pool crashes to massive road favorites covering, the opening Sunday produced plenty of pain and fortune across sportsbooks.
Botched Survivor Entries
While most bettors suffered normal bad beats, 31 entries in the Circa Sports $1 million Survivor contest experienced a rookie betting nightmare. They failed to submit their Week 1 pick by the Saturday entry deadline, eliminating themselves before the season even began.
After a whole offseason of strategizing, these bettors will watch their $1,000 entry fee waste away. Nothing like removing yourself from a massive prize pool due to bureaucratic incompetence. But hey, their entries now hold equal value to those who foolishly took the Detroit Lions over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.
Giants Letdown Crushes Public
The New York Giants were a hugely popular public pick as a small 3-point home underdog against the Dallas Cowboys. But the Giants delivered an abominable showing, falling behind 26-0 by halftime en route to a humiliating 40-7 blowout loss. Bettors who loaded up on Big Blue over the summer as a potential surprise team were brought back to earth fast. The Giants ended the day as the biggest losers against the spread.
Road Favorites Dominate ATS
Home underdogs traditionally perform well early in the NFL season. But on this opening Sunday, road favorites demolished that betting theory. Visitors went an astounding 12-3 against the spreads entering Monday Night Football. If the favored Buffalo Bills cover -2 vs the New York Jets, road teams will finish 13-3 ATS, one of the most lopsided weeks in NFL history per ESPN Stats & Info. Several massive road favorites like the 49ers, Eagles, and Packers covered with ease.
Live Bets Pour in for Giants' Garbage Time
When the Cowboys went up 33-0 late in the third quarter, PointsBet saw lopsided betting on the Giants +18.5 live line. With Dallas leading 40-7 in the fourth, optimists kept firing on the Giants +24.5. The backdoor cover never came close, showcasing how bettors throw good money after bad hoping for miracles in garbage time.
Sportsbook Suffers With Commanders
The Action Network reported that the Washington Commanders attracted nearly 98% of bets against the Arizona Cardinals at both FanDuel and PointsBet. The public loved Washington despite questions about the QB situation. Sportsbooks suffered when the Commanders prevailed 20-16 after trailing for most of the game. Closing line value really stung bookmakers here.
LaFleur's Record vs. Bears
The Green Bay Packers have now covered the spread in nine straight matchups against their archrival Chicago Bears. Head coach Matt LaFleur is a flawless 9-0 ATS versus the Bears since taking over in 2019. After a week of hype surrounding new Bears coach Matt Eberflus, LaFleur once again dominated with a 27-10 road victory. Perhaps this rivalry trend will reverse itself one day, but not yet.
Caesars Needs the Bills on Monday
Per Caesars Sportsbook's VP of trading, the sportsbook went into Sunday night needing favorites to cover in every game for optimal results. When Cincinnati and other favorites failed to cover, Buffalo become a hugely important Week 1 cover for the bookmakers. This exemplifies how NFL outcomes greatly swing book fortunes week to week. The Bills did end up covering -2.5 vs the Jets on Monday, salvaging the weekend for places like Caesars.
Most Bet Player Props Miss
According to multiple sportsbooks, some of the most heavily bet NFL player props on Sunday included:
- Drake London OVER 51.5 receiving yards
- Lamar Jackson anytime TD (did not score)
- Jonathan Taylor OVER 82.5 rushing yards (finished with 71 yards)
- Justin Herbert OVER 1.5 passing TDs (had 1 TD)
The public betting interest did not match reality, as the props where most money was concentrated ended up falling short. It reinforced that betting volume and sharp betting often diverge when setting odds.
Surprise Results Shake Up Books
Several surprise outcomes in early games caused books to adjust odds andLines before the late afternoon slate. The Browns upsetting the Bengals forced adjustments to divisional odds. Philadelphia crushing Detroit led to tweaks on NFC East odds and the Eagles' season win total. Baltimore's dominance over New York reshaped AFC odds. Sportsbooks remain nimble in angling their risk exposure.
While Week 1 had its fair share of casualties, wise bettors know it's a marathon, not a sprint. There are 16 more regular season weeks to learn team tendencies, find smart fades, and exploit overreactions. The betting public poured most of their bankroll into just 16 games. Patience and protecting the betting bankroll remains crucial. Notable bets will surely grow more insightful as the NFL season develops.
Week 2 opening lines for the NFL - (via the Superbook)
|Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
|Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans
|Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
|Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
|Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions
|Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Las Vegas Raiders at Buffalo Bills
|Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
|Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
|New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
|New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys
|Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos
|Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
|New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
|Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Summarised from the original article by David Purdum for espn.com
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