Football picksMay 20, 2021

Top 5 NFL Schedule, Odds & Betting Trends for 2021

Since the NFL schedule was released, odds have started to move and we’ve got the goods. Updated Week 1 lines, betting trends and key matchups for you to circle as we countdown to kickoff in September.

NFL schedule week 1 patrick mahomes

Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid are 3-0 SU/ATS together in Week 1, averaging 37.3 points per game

Week 1 NFL Schedule

The NFL schedule was announced last week and the big buzz was how this year’s schedule has expanded from 16 to 17 games. Well let me rephrase that. The league’s first schedule extension in 43 years was one out of 100 things buzzing on May 12, as everyone in the football betting world realized how happy they are knowing that the 2021 season is projected to start on time, in September, as usual.

Here’s a list of my Top 5 NFL schedule, odds and betting related things that stood out from the past week.

1. 17 Games

It was 1978 when the NFL went to a 16-game schedule and given the league’s parity through free agency, the formula was a resounding success. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with this new expansion, just adding an additional non-conference game.

  • The divisional aspect stays exactly the same. Three home and three away games vs. each division rival.
  • The rotation of facing each team from another intra-conference division (4 games) and each team from an interconference division (4 games) stays the same.
  • Each team will also face an opponent from the two non-rotating, intraconference divisions. It’s based on the previous year’s standings and again, this stays the same.

For the extra non-conference game, the league is simply blending the above strategies. They’ll rotate divisions AND use previous year’s standings.

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2. Best 17th Game Matchups

Week 6, Seahawks at Steelers: Rematch of Super Bowl XL from the 2005 season. Each has one Super Bowl win and Super Bowl loss since then and the series between the two is even at two wins apiece. The past two meetings resulted in 69 and 54 total points.

Week 9, Packers at Chiefs: Any rematch of these Super Bowl I combatants is a treat and your guess as to who will be starting at QB for Green Bay is as good as mine. Coach Andy Reid has won seven of his past eight against the NFC.

Week 17, Rams at Ravens: These teams are virtually deadlocked as the fourth-ranked favorite to win Super Bowl LVI, just behind the Bills. The date is Sunday, Jan. 2 and suddenly, Week 17 games have A LOT more meaning.

3. Non-Conference Matters

Speaking of games having more meaning, there are a couple coaches that have put a greater emphasis on interconference matchups in the first half of the season. With five non-conference games to deal with, there will be a good opportunity to key in on these teams for value through the first two months.

  • Mike Zimmer, Vikings: Zimmer suffered his second losing season in 2020 (7-9 SU) since taking the post in 2014 (7-9 SU). Last year was his worst for bettors, too, as the Vikings finished 6-10 ATS. Zimmer’s record vs. the AFC since 2014 is 17-11 SU and 19-9 ATS (68%). He is 12-4 ATS in non-conference games that take place in September-October.

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Bookmark Minnesota’s Week 1 game at Cincinnati as well as their Week 4 game vs. Cleveland. Early Week 1 NFL odds favor the Vikings -3 with a total of 48. Zimmer spent six years with the Bengals (2008-13) and he’s faced them once since. He rolled up on them 34-7 in 2017. Zimmer also has a 5-2 SU/ATS record in Week 1 as a head coach.

  • Sean McDermott, Bills: Buffalo (-150) is a heavy favorite to win the AFC East and McDermott’s squad was 6-0 SU against the division in 2020, but he has been a beast against non-conference foes, going 10-5-1 ATS (67%). Last year, Buffalo was 4-0 ATS against the tough NFC West and that included a 35-32 win over the Rams in Week 3. It was a game that served notice to the rest of the league while improving McDermott’s non-conference record in the first four weeks to 4-0 ATS all-time.

In Week 3, Buffalo will host Washington and it’ll be the Football Team’s first road game of the season. Non-conference teams that travel in Week 3 after opening with back-to-back home games are just 8-17 SU (32%) and 6-10-1 ATS (38%) as a dog of more than +3 points. Only two of those 17 dogs won straight up, so this is a scheduling spot worth circling.

4. Mahomes Magic

Patrick Mahomes will be playing with a vengeance this year as he looks to reclaim the Super Bowl title. Kansas City opens with Cleveland, Baltimore and the Chargers before a Week 4 meeting vs. Andy Reid’s old Philadelphia crew.

  • Reid’s record in Week 1 the past 10 seasons is 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS.

With Mahomes under center, the Chiefs are 3-0 SU/ATS in their season opener, scoring 38-40-34 points. Two of those games were on the road, too.

At home, Mahomes is 4-0 SU before Week 5 and he’s averaged 32.8 points per game. In conference games, Mahomes-Reid have a 10-0 SU and 7-2-1 ATS record in the first four weeks, home or away. Scoring margins were 32.5 to 22.2. Six of 10 wins were by double-digits.

Cleveland took strides this offseason to improve a defense that was 15th in competition percentage (64.4) and 27th in passing yards allowed (265.4). New arrivals like John Johnson, Troy Hill and Greg Newsome, drafted 26th overall out of Northwestern, will certainly have their work cut out for them in Week 1.

5. Week 1 NFL Schedule, Odds for Every Game

Thursday, Sept. 9
Cowboys at Buccaneers (-6.5, 52), 8:20 PM ET
Since 1978, defending Super Bowl champs that open at home have an 18-8-2 ATS record, regardless of the line.

Sunday, Sept. 12
Jaguars (-2.5, 45.5) at Texans, 1 PM ET
Steelers at Bills (-6.5, 50.5), 1 PM ET
Jets at Panthers (-4, 43), 1 PM ET
Cardinals at Titans (-2.5, 51), 1 PM ET
Chargers at Washington (PK, 44.5), 1 PM ET
Vikings (-3, 48) at Bengals, 1 PM ET
49ers (-7.5, 46) at Lions, 1 PM ET
Eagles at Falcons (-3.5, 48), 1 PM ET
Seahawks at Colts (-2.5, 52), 1 PM ET
Browns at Chiefs (-6, 52.5), 4:25 PM ET
Dolphins at Patriots (-2.5, 45.5), 4:25 PM ET
Broncos (-1, 42.5) at Giants, 4:25 PM ET
Packers at Saints (-2.5, 50.5), 4:25 PM ET

Week 1, Sunday Night Football
Bears at Rams (-7, 45), 8:20 PM ET
Note: Super Bowl LVI will be here at SoFi Stadium, Feb. 13, 2022

Week 1, Monday Night Football (Sept. 13)
Ravens (-4, 51) at Raiders, 8:15 PM ET

First-ever game at Allegiant Stadium with fans in attendance.

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