The NFL is back with Week 1 in the books and thank goodness it’s behind us. Outside of a few games, Week 1 was a painful watch. Few games were competitive in the fourth quarter and many offenses looked uglier than Jason Whitlock’s fedora collection.
Low scoring is the story of the weekend with the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts all failing to put double digits on the scoreboard.
Last season, the St. Louis Rams – a squad with a historically horrendous offense – averaged a league-worst 262 yards per game. Eight teams tallied fewer than 250 yards of total offense in Week 1.
It’s no surprise that the Under was the best betting trend of the first weekend of the NFL season. The Under went 2-10 on Sunday and finished 5-10 for the week. The average points scored per game is 40.4 after the first 15 contests. The average points scored per game in Week 1 last season was about 4.5 points higher at 44.8.
The data tells us oddsmakers were hitting it out of the park with their Over/Under lines in Week 1 from 2013 to 2016. The differential between the average total and the average game score was less than a point in each year and the Over/Under record was never more than a game off an 8-8 mark.
We can also see that scoring in Week 1 is on a three-year decline and there’s a gulf of 8.5 points between the high year of the sample in 2012 when the average points scored per game was 49.4 and this season.
Bettors will be asking themselves if the low scoring will continue into Week 2. Oddsmakers adjusted to the Week 1 results by setting the lowest average game totals in Week 2 since 2011.
Despite Vegas’ re-calibration, sharp bettors still think there are opportunities moving forward betting the Under on the league’s worst offenses.
Covers Expert Ted Sevransky says he has concerns about the offensive production from the six teams held under 10 points in the first week.
“All six teams had significant offensive line concerns coming into the season, and all six of them failed their first test pretty badly,” Sevransky says. “I have already bet Unders on several of their matchups this week [Week 2] and may still bet more.”
Let’s review each of these offensively-challenged sides and where they play in Week 2.
Quarterback Andy Dalton turned the ball over five times in what, very well, could have been his worst career outing as a pro player. The Bengals put up a goose egg on the scoreboard marking the first time they’ve been shut out since Week 7 in 2014.
After the game Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been in such a disappointing football game.”
Dating back to last year, the Under is now 8-1 in Cincy’s last nine regular season games. The Bengals have had a middle of the pack offense for the last three years. It’s safe to assume they’ll finish with around the 15th best offense again this season.
The lowest total (38.5) on the board is Thursday night’s game between the Texans and Bengals.
Houston allowed 10 sacks and turned the ball over four times against Jacksonville on Sunday. Texans coach Bill O’Brien benched his starting quarterback after the first two quarters of the season.
We don’t know yet if the Texans will stick with rookie DeShaun Watson under center or if they’ll go back to Tom Savage on Thursday against Cincinnati.
The offensive line is a major concern and it sure would help if the team could come to terms with their best lineman. Left tackle Duane Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler, is still holding out for a new contract.
Five of the Jags’ 10 sacks on Sunday came when they rushed just four defenders.
Quarterback Andrew Luck is ruled out against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 which means bettors are likely to see another week with Scott Tolzien under center for the Colts. Without Luck, there’s a good argument to be made that Indy is the least talented team in the league.
The total for the Cards-Colts game opened at 44.5.
New York Giants
The G-Men are another case of a club that was missing its best player in Week 1. Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play because of an ankle sprain, although the Giants lack of scoring punch isn’t a one-game problem.
New York hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a game since Week 12 of last season and that game was against the Cleveland Browns. The Under is now 8-1 in the Giants’ last nine regular season games.
The line on this game has yet to be released as oddsmakers wait to hear on the availability of Beckham Jr.
The offensive line continues to be a problem for the Seahawks. Their starting left tackle went on the IR in preseason and there was no real effort made at replacing him besides looking at their own depth chart.
Seattle’s offense used to be run-orientated but last year the club finished 25th in rushing yards per game. There’s still a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball and Green Bay’s defense may prove to be an above average unit as the season progresses.
Seattle hosts its division rival San Fran on Sunday and the total is set at 43.5.
San Francisco 49ers
Speaking of those Niners – they’re coming off a game which they failed to find the end zone once. The Niners abandoned the run game after the Panthers scored on their first possession in the second half to make it 20-0.
A 70-30 pass/run ratio isn’t going to lead to many wins or scores for the 49ers considering Brian Hoyer is their starting quarterback and Pierre Garcon projects to be their best receiver.