We're still a ways away from seeing the 2022 NFL season in action, but that doesn't mean the league has kept quiet. We break down all the biggest news in this edition of our NFL betting notebook.
NFL Notebook: May 29
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Latest NFL betting news
A peek into Pennsylvania
Philadelphia. Pittsburgh. Two NFL households, both alike in dignity, in fair Pennsylvania, where we lay our scene...
With the schedule release prompting some sportsbooks to post NFL betting odds on every single game (save for the Cleveland Browns), football fans can now contrast and compare those weekly spreads vs. futures markets, like season win totals and divisional odds.
It’s not a perfect practice by any means, but it definitely tells a narrative as to which teams bookies are high on heading into 2022 and perhaps where some value could lie, if we take those look-ahead lines for face value.
Squaring up 2022 spreads with 2022 season win totals we see some glaring variances in projections when we add up those +/- and split the difference on pick’em games (as well as give our best estimate for contests involving the Browns).
As it would have it, the two Pennsylvania franchises are the most polarizing in this point spread pissing contest, with books pegging the Steelers to finally fall from grace after 18 seasons without a losing record. The Eagles, on the other hand, could be on the verge of a breakout year, set as underdogs in only three games. Yep, that’s right.
At the top of the board, we find the NFL elite regularly installed as point spread favorites in more games than the season win totals give them credit for. Obviously, oddsmakers give these top teams the benefit of the doubt because their ceiling is higher:
|Team||Season win O/U||Spread projection||Difference|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11.5 (Under -120)||16.5 wins||+5.0|
|Los Angeles Chargers||10 (Over -125)||14 wins||+4.0|
|Buffalo Bills||11.5 (Over -140)||14.5 wins||+3.0|
|Baltimore Ravens||9.5 (Over -140)||12.5 wins||+3.0|
|Green Bay Packers||11 (Over -110)||14 wins||+3.0|
|Los Angeles Rams||10.5 (Over -110)||13.5 wins||+3.0|
|Philadelphia Eagles||9.5 (Over -120)||12.5 wins||+3.0|
Everything seems in order until we see Philadelphia among those contenders. This is an Eagles squad set as the second overall choice to win the NFC East (behind Dallas) and a team teetering on a postseason spot, according to the win totals and “Yes/No” playoff prop.
However, since the schedule release, which rolled out one of the softest slates in favor of Philly (30th in SOS), the Eagles’ win total jumped from 8.5 (Over -140) to 9.5 (Over -120), and their divisional futures slipped from +250 to +165, with the playoff prop going from Yes -115/No -105 to Yes -190/No +150.
As for the biggest difference between spread projections and season win total at the bottom of the board, we see a flip of the theory above. Books are harder on those terrible teams game-to-game versus what their win totals say, knowing that “even the sun shines on a dog’s ass some days” and there are bound to be a few upsets along the way (we did have 12 teams of +7.5 or higher win outright in 2021).
|Team||Season win total||Spread projection||Difference|
|Atlanta Falcons||5.0 (Under -140)||1.0 wins||-4.0|
|Houston Texans||4.5 (Under -120||0.5 wins||-4.0|
|Chicago Bears||6.5 (Over -120)||2.5 wins||-4.0|
|Carolina Panthers||6.0 (Under -125)||2.5 wins||-3.5|
|Detroit Lions||6.5 (Over -120)||3.0 wins||-3.5|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||6.0 (Over -120)||2.5 wins||-3.5|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||7.5 (Under -120)||4.0 wins||-3.5|
The Steelers stick out like a sore thumb among that craptacular table, with bookies setting their season win total at 7.5. But when measured up against the early-bird spreads for 2022 (which include two games against Cleveland in which I expect Pittsburgh to be the dog — if Deshaun Watson is under center), we see just how daunting this upcoming season could be for the Black and Yellow.
Pittsburgh’s schedule, which ranks T-12 in SOS, is crazy tough just inside the AFC North. Mitchell Trubisky (or maybe Kenny Pickett) would be the worst starting QB in the division against three teams that have big postseason plans. The divisional futures have Pittsburgh as a +1,100 long shot to win the AFC North — uncharted waters for Mike Tomlin’s team which has won at least eight games going back to 2004.
On top of those divisional foes, the Steelers’ slate itself is working against success. Pittsburgh has a rough run between Week 5 and Week 8 (@ BUF, vs TBY, @ MIA, @ PHI) and another gauntlet between Week 12 and Week 15 (@ IND, @ ATL, vs BAL, @ CAR). Needless to say, a projected rough start to the post-Ben Era.
Tall order in K.C.
The Kansas City Chiefs swapped out speed for size after moving Tyreek Hill to Miami and are looking to spread the love around, at least according to their OTA output.
Head coach Andy Reid is going with a “Cheetah by Committee” approach this spring, and while making up for Hill’s playmaking speed is a tall order, that’s just what the Chiefs are leaning into with their new additions to the passing game, such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Those WRs are among Patrick Mahomes’ towering targets for 2022, with Smith-Schuster standing 6-foot-1, veteran wideout Josh Gordon at 6-foot-3, Valdes-Scantling at 6-foot-4, UDFA wild card Justyn Ross at 6-foot-4, and all-world TE Travis Kelce measuring out at 6-foot-5.
That size could help boost the Chiefs’ touchdown percentage in the red zone. Kansas City has ranked Top 6 in points in each season since Mahomes breakout in 2018, when it was first in points (34.8 PPG) and second in TD percentage inside the red zone (73.08%).
However, K.C. has ranked 11th, 16th, and 11th in TD percentage the previous three seasons, and the Chiefs have stayed under the 30-point plateau in those campaigns — perhaps leaving some points on the table when inside the 20-yard line.
Along with those big men boxing out in the end zone, Kansas City complements that size with burners Mecole Hardman and much-hyped rookie Skyy Moore (both nursing hamstring injuries in OTAs) along with dual-threat RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (K.C. sure does love it some hyphenated names).
I haven’t seen odds on this season’s highest-scoring team yet, but you can take a shot on Mahomes to make the most of those big bad receivers and lead the league in touchdown passes at +550 at PointsBet.
Brittney’s husband is behind only Tom Brady (+500) in that market and ahead of Matt Stafford (+700) and Aaron Rodgers (+900). He threw 50 touchdown passes in 2018 and has posted TD totals of 37, 38, and 26 in the past three seasons.
Lion out of Lamb
The Dallas Cowboys went all in on WR CeeDee Lamb when they traded Amari Cooper to the Browns this offseason.
Lamb is now the Cowboys’ go-to guy, coming off a 2021 effort in which he played 16 games and grabbed 79 passes for 1,102 yards along with six touchdowns. Cooper played one fewer game, had 68 catches yet scored eight TDs for a Dallas offense that ran hot and cold, but still finished fourth overall in passing yards per game.
Everyone at The Star has confidence that Lamb will rise to the occasion, from the front office to locker room neighbor Dak Prescott, despite the third-year WR dropping the seventh most balls in the league in 2021.
Lamb will definitely have the reps to make everyone forget about Amari, considering No. 2 option Michael Gallup is still out after injuring his knee in the playoffs. Dallas’ depth chart features James Washington and Jalen Tolbert as the next WRs up.
Lamb is listed at +2,000 to lead the NFL in receiving yards in 2022 — the ninth overall choice for this prop market at PointsBet. He was 16th on the list while sharing touches with Cooper last season.
Week 1 odds have been slowing bubbling on the board with a summer to simmer before turning up the heat in September. And since the opening week lines were released, books have taken extra action on a few Week 1 matchups.
According to BetMGM, the most heavily bet games (by ticket count) of Week 1 are the season opener between the Bills and Rams, the Saints at Falcons, and the Eagles at Lions. Going hand-in-hand, New Orleans -4, Philadelphia -3.5, and Buffalo +1 are the most popular picks in terms of bets placed.
But when it comes to cold hard handle (total money wagered) — a better indicator of where the sharper or professional play could be — early-bird bettors are getting ahead of things with Denver -4.5 at Seattle, New Orleans -4.5 at Atlanta, and Kansas City -3 at Arizona.
That’s a lot of love for road teams to tip things off. Visitors started the 2021 campaign by going 8-7 straight up, 9-6 against the spread in Week 1 and are 53-55-2 SU and 59-48-3 ATS (55%) in season openers since 2015.