The 2021-2022 NFL season is here, and sports betting is legal in Colorado, which means it’s time to get ready to fire off some wagers. Colorado is at the forefront of legalized sports betting in America, so it’s only right to cover the biggest betting sport in the country from a local perspective to make sure Colorado bettors are ready to rock and roll each week of the NFL season.
We are in the process of upgrading a TON of gadgets at the Mile High Sports studios to bring Colorado sports fans and bettors the best content possible, so this series will evolve as the season progresses. That said, you can expect wall-to-wall coverage of the NFL slate from a betting perspective here at Mile High Sports all year long, so be sure to stay up with the site and download our revamped mobile app to listen to radio and podcasts on the go.
For the record, I do not consider myself a pro sports bettor. This series is intended for the common sports fan and the everyday bettor looking to take sports betting a little bit more seriously.
I’ll go around the horn and give a few thoughts about the big games, including some leans for the weekend. I’m much better at spread and Moneyline bets than I am at totals and props, so we will rely on a panel of guests to fill in some of the gaps throughout the season.
The overall goal is to paint a picture of the weekend slate so you can dive into it with your head on straight. Sports betting is here, and if you are going to bet, you might as well get an edge, right?
Manage your bankroll. Stick to your units. Shop your lines.
Ok, let’s get after it. If you want more sports betting content throughout the week, tune into the Denver Sports Betting radio show from 3-4p Monday-Friday. You can listen on 98.1 FM, 107.5 HD3 or stream the show on MileHighSports.com and the MHS mobile app.
(we did pick the Cowboys ATS on the show this week)
The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Bucs are set to get the #NFL season rocking and rolling
— Denver Sports Betting Show (@DenverBets) September 9, 2021
Arizona Cardinals @ Tennesse Titans: AZ +3, TEN -3, o/u 52.5
This is one of a few solid games on the Week 1 early slate. The Titans open the season at home following an early departure in the Wild Card round last season. Tennessee added Julio Jones at wideout, which will only help the dynamic offense with Derrick Henry in the backfield and A.J. Brown outside. That said, the Cardinals loaded up on veteran talent in the offseason by adding J.J. Watt to the defense and A.J. Green to the wide receiver corps. This game will be fun, and the -3 spread in favor of the home team seems about right.
While the Titans are coming off the better season, Kyler Murray has looked sharp through his first two full years in the league, and the Cardinals are viewed as a team on the cusp in the loaded NFC West. Questions surround Kliff Kingsbury, but there is no doubt about the talent on the Cards roster. I think the addition of Watt will be huge as a vocal leader to rally around the team and fill some voids of Kingsbury.
These two teams last clashed in 2017, so two very different looks for each club, but it’s worth noting the Cardinals have covered the spread in four straight against Tennessee. The Titans are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in September with the same mark in their last 5 Week 1 games.
As most games involving the Titans do, it’ll come down to King Henry. I tend to default to the home team in this type of spot, so I like the Titans ATS but don’t have a firm pick for this one. It should be a fun game to watch and throw a couple of shekels on.
Seattle Seahawks @ Indianapolis Colts: SEA -3, IND +3, o/u 49
Another solid game on the early slate between two playoff teams. We saw this one open Seattle -2.5 and o/u 52.5, so some money has come in on the under, and it’s not hard to see why. The Colts boast one of the upper echelon defenses in the league, and while quarterback Carson Wentz is expected to play, there are plenty of questions surrounding his durability.
The Colts have lost seven consecutive Week 1 games to the dismay of owner Jim Irsay. Irsay publicly addressed his desire to win the opening game this year, and head coach Frank Reich mentioned it the other day.
“We all know the opener is a big deal, especially when it’s a home opener, especially when your owner is letting you know it’s a big deal,” coach Frank Reich said. “I think we’ve all gotten that message. I would like to deliver him one of these here before too long.”
Now, nobody is going to get canned over a Week 1 loss, but a little pressure from the top means the Colts need to get off to a quick start against a manageable opponent.
I’m not a Seahawks guy. I think they are a fugazi team betting-wise that is always bailed out by Russ Wilson late and feast on back door covers. The public loves to hop on the Seahawks wagon, and I love to steer clear of it. That said, Seattle has excelled at one area where most west coast teams struggle. The Seahawks are an astounding 11-1 in their last 12 games in the early east coast time slot, which is usually a big factor when handicapping these games.
This is another coin flip game, but with the home team getting 3 points, this has turned into a bit of a principle play for me, especially when you toss in the opponent. So give me Indy spread and a little sprinkle on the ML.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Washington Football Team: LA -1, WAS +1, o/u 44.5
The journeyman vs. the rising star. This will be a nice game where different styles will be on display. The Chargers come to town with a young, rookie head coach and a sophomore quarterback, while Washington has veterans Ron Rivera and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This game has flipped around as the Chargers opened as the +1 dog but are now the -1 favorite. This game is virtually a pick’ em with the Moneyline at -101 for LA and -119 for Washington as of Friday. The way the line has moved is telling.
Washington is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in September, while the Chargers are 6-1-2 ATS in their last 9 games in Week 1.
Austin Ekeler’s status is up in the air, which will play a big role in this game, but this will still come down to Justin Herbert. If he can light the world on fire like he did last year, he should be able to guide his team to victory. Washington has little-to-no home-field advantage and averaged just 20.9 points per game last season. Coach Staley has a defensive background and should have no problem scheming for an average Washington offense. I like the Bolts.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans: JAX -3, HOU +3, o/u 45.5
The debut game for the duo of Trevor Lawrence and head coach of Urban Meyer. Lawrence is the most hyped QB prospect since Andrew Luck, and many are expecting him to be the future of the position, myself included. I already have a bet locked in for Lawrence to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at +400. I like Urban Meyer. He’s a top college football head coach who has won at every stop. Perhaps his run in the NFL will be short, but it has the chance to be so so sweet. There’s good reason to think he won’t put it all together in year one, but Week 1 is a nice soft intro for the new-look Jags.
The Texans are expected to be the worst team in the NFL, littered with controversy and plenty of question marks across the board. I’m not sure I’ll ever bet on the Texans this season. Give me the Jags. I also like the under a little bit here. Houston could struggle to score, and the Jags should be up and down with a rookie QB.
New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers: NYJ +4, CAR -4, o/u 44
This is the smallest spread on the early board. The Jets averaged a measly 15.2 points per game last year while Carolina was pegged at 21.9. Former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will make his Panthers debut against his former team, who rookie Zach Wilson now leads. In addition, the Jets hired Robert Saleh as their head coach, a move that many are high on for a team that is in desperate need of an organizational overhaul.
The return of Christian McCaffery will be a big boost for Carolina, and he could run wild against a developing Jets defense. New York allowed an average of 376.6 yards per game last season, and that will be quite the task for Saleh to conquer despite his defensive background. Nevertheless, I think Wilson and Saleh will get this team on track and think they have a chance to steal a game here against a Panthers team that is far from perfect. Still, I think you have to lean with the home team.
Here are a few trends for you: Favorite is 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 meetings. Home team is 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Jets are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Jets are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games in September.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills: BUF -6.5, PIT +6.5, o/u 48.5
It’s hard not to like the Bills right now. They burst onto the scene last year and do not appear to be going anywhere, but this Week 1 matchup will be no walk in the park. While the Steelers did experience an epic meltdown last season, they are still one of the most consistent and competitive teams in the NFL over the last decade. With the injuries mounting up in Baltimore, perhaps there’s a better chance for the Steelers to rise up in the crowded AFC West.
This is the second-largest spread on the early slate, and it’s a matchup of team teams that won over 11 games apiece and were both in the playoffs. Big Ben has one last run in him, and maybe it starts Sunday. I think the Steelers can hang around and maybe cover the spread, but this is Buffalo’s game to lose. On the other hand, this could be a good game to live-bet if the Steelers go up early.
I’ll pass on the spread but leave you with this, the Steelers are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games as a road underdog.
I do like the over in the game. 48.5 seems like low-hanging fruit for a Bills team that averaged the second-most points in the league at 31.3 while the Steelers averaged 26.9, good for the 12th best mark in the league.
Sit back, root for points, and look for a live betting spot.
Minnesota Vikings @ Cincinnati Bengals: MIN -3, CIN +3, o/u 47.5
Another Week 1 game with a lower point total. The Vikings will travel to Cincy as Joe Burrow is set to return under center for the Bengals after tearing his ACL in his rookie season. Burrow is a grinder who looked the part of a franchise quarterback before suffering the season-ending injury. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks coming off the injury, but at 24 years old, he should bounce back just fine.
I don’t have much to say about this one other than Minnesota tends to leave you scratching your head throughout the season. Which Vikings team will we get? The one that beat the Packers on the road last year? Or the one that fails to show up. We do know the Vikings can rack up the points, so keep an eye on their team total over 24.5. Take a flyer on the Bengals or pass.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons: PHI +3.5, ATL -3.5, o/u 48.5
Two teams that have been spinning in circles since playing the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Falcons said bye to longtime receiver Julio Jones making Calvin Ridley the clear WR 1 for Matt Ryan, who also has rookie Kyle Pitts to work with. Both of these squads won just four games last year and will look to improve in 2021.
The Eagles are rocking with Jalen Hurts as QB. The public thinks he’s the truth, I’m not so sure, especially because his head coach is a bit of a wild card.
Atlanta lost a handful of tight games last year that they should have won. However, I think the Falcons are the more buttoned-up team for this one at home.
The Eagles are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a road underdog. Eagles are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 road games and 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games in September. That said, the Falcons have failed to cover a spread in their last 5 Week 1 games.
Why does this feel like a game that you will get killed with on the hook? It just feels like a field goal game. I lean Atlanta.
San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions: SF -9, DET +9, o/u 45
The 49ers will win this one; the question is by how much? The Lions are on step one of a multi-step plan to get back to relevancy and with Jared Goff under center I don’t sense brimming optimism from the people of Detroit. The 49ers got dealt a rough hand with the injury bug last year, but their ability to weather the storm has a lot up people up on them for 2021. Although here’s a disgusting trend: the 49ers are 9-24-1 ATS in their last 34 games as a favorite.
If you like the under in this game, the under is 7-0 in 49ers last 7 games in Week 1 although it’s 13-3 in the last 16 Week 1 games for Detroit.
I view the 49ers as a throw-in for a ML parlay this weekend.
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs: CLE +5.5, KC -5.5, o/u 54.5
One of the marquee matchups of the weekend. The Cleveland Browns will look to improve upon their success from last season in Week 1 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. While many expect the Chiefs to run it back to the Super Bowl, betting them week after week against the spread has not been profitable. Kansas City covered just 44% of their games last year after covering the spread in 72.2% of games in 2019.
That said, the Chiefs have played well under head coach Andy Reid out of the gate recently, covering the spread in their last four Week 1 games. Additionally, the Chiefs are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games in September. As of Friday, the public bets are backing the Chiefs. Many believe the Browns are one of the better teams in the AFC this season, able to compete with teams like Kansas City and Buffalo. A strong showing in Week 1 would be a great way to show they are the real deal.
I don’t like to bet against greatness and Mahomes will be out for blood this season after losing in the Super Bowl. I still look at Pat as a superhuman at the position, capable of elevating his team to the highest of levels and with the skill position players running it back I think KC will score big time. Cleveland also has a high-octane offense capable of running up the scoreboard. This should be a great game and the Browns will have a great season, but Kansas City is still in a league of their own in the AFC. Lean KC -5.5.
Denver Broncos @ New York Giants: DEN -3, NYG +3, o/u 41.5
Ah yes, the hometown team. I’ve gone back and forth with this one for weeks. This line has been flipped upside down ever since the Aaron Rodgers saga was still a thing and the total is the lowest of the week across the board. The Broncos and Giants both covered 56.2% of their spreads last season although the Broncos made an “upgrade” at quarterback with Teddy Bridgewater over Drew Lock. There is no denying Bridgewater is the more stable quarterback, but let’s see if that transitions leads to better offensive play on the field in Week 1 against a Giants defense that was solid against the run and allowed an average of 22.3 points per game last season.
The Broncos offense averaged just 20.2 points per game last season, the fifth-lowest mark in the NFL. That offense featured Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Melvin Gordon and Noah Fant among others. Denver will get back a healthy Courtland Sutton and rookie Javonte Williams out of the backfield to pair with Bridgewater. The Broncos have a luxury super car waiting to take off, but do they have the right driver?
The Giants offense is not much better, and with the Denver, defense is expected to be one of the best units in the league. This should be a low scoring game, with plenty of opportunities for Denver to pull away, will they?
Joe Judge has instilled some toughness within that Giants locker room, and while Daniel Jones is a bit bummy, the Giants play hard as a unit. Saquon Barkley is excepted to return for the Giants, which will give Jones a big boost. Jones’ passer rating with Barkley in the backfield is 92.0 compared to 78.9 without him. Thanks to Stephen Crociata for pointing this out to me on Twitter.
For me, this comes down to my trust in Vic Fangio, and I’m just not there yet. You’ve gotta prove it to me before I can bet you on the road, let alone as a road favorite. We are talking about a Broncos team that has yet to win a September game with Fangio running the show. The Broncos will play the short game on offense with Teddy under center, and Judge has had months to prepare for this. Barkley will be a difference-maker, and I don’t expect the Broncos’ offense to just figure it out in Week 1 against a respectable defense. I think the Broncos should win, but I’m not sold that they will. I’m taking Big Blue. Prove me wrong, coach.
As for the total, it’s such a low number. I will take a look at the Broncos team under of 22 and the first half under of 21. Same with the Giants team under.
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints: GB -3.5, NO +3.5, o/u 50
Man I just don’t get this one. This was the first spread that jumped out to me from my gut. Why on earth are the Packers only the -3.5 favorite here? I know it’s on the road, but we are talking about the man Aaron Rodgers. Home, road, rain, shine, it doesn’t matter for this guy, and I think New Orleans is bound for regression. Sean Peyton is a great head coach but the transition from Drew Brees to the new guard is sure to have some hiccups. Jamies Winston is talented but you have to take the good with the bad with him. Mistakes will be made and Aaron Rodgers knows how to take advantage of a short field.
The favorite is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 meetings, and I just don’t think New Orleans is nearly as good as they were with Brees, at least in Week 1. Michael Thomas will not play, and the team has been displaced due to Hurricane Ida, which is sure to throw a wrench in their preparation. This game will be played in Jacksonville, Florida, so it’s not a true home game for New Orleans.
If New Orleans wants to win this game they’ll need to dominate in the trenches. The Packers’ offensive line is thin with David Bakhtiari currently on the PUP list. New Orleans’ defense was one of the best units in the league last season, ranking top-5 in pass and run defense, allowing just 21.1 points per game on average. If they can get to Rodgers and disrupt his tempo they have a chance.
It’s worth taking a look at the over here. Rodgers is fresh off an MVP season and Winston is an absolute gunslinger who can run it up. The Green Bay defense is good but not as good as New Orleans.
Should be a close game and in this case I’m going offense > defense. Rodgers is locked in for Green Bay, and there are some emotional factors weighing on New Orleans. Lean GB and if they go down early, I’m live betting them.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots: MIA +3, NE -3, o/u 43.5
The Alabama bowl. Tua vs. Mac. This is going to be a great game as the youth movement takes over the AFC East. Mac Jones surprised many by winning the starting job over Cam Newton in training camp, but the youngster is primed to lead the Patriots into a new era under head coach Bill Belichick. Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores is a disciple of Belichick and had retooled the Dolphins into a competitive team. Flores is 2-2 against Belichik as a head coach.
New England opened -2 and is now -3 so this is pretty traditional game from a spread perspective. A -3 spread in favor of the home team is indicative bookmakers view these teams as even, with a slight edge going towards the home team due to home field.
The Dolphins are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 meetings in New England, and the home team is 16-5 ATS in their last 21 meetings. With that, the Dolphins were the most profitable team against the spread last season, covering a whopping 68.8% of their games. Will that carry over to this season?
Tua Tagovailoa is QB1, although it seems like there is not an overwhelming amount of confidence around the second-year QB. We are so quick to rush to conclusions with QBs, but there is some pressure on Tua to step up in year 2 and look like the top-5 draft choice he was. No more Fitzmagic in Miami means it’s Tua time.
The Patriots are a team I can see making some noise in the AFC. You can’t keep an all-time great coach down for long, and I think their struggles last season can be attributed to the historically short offseason, dealing with COVID-19, player opt outs and trying to replace the greatest quarterback the game has ever seen. A full offseason is big for the evil empire. Give me New England.
If you like to chase trends then the under is for you… under is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings, under is 7-1 in Patriots last 8 games overall and 5-1 in the last 6 New England home games.
Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams: CHI +7.5, LAR -7.5, o/u 46.5
I can hear the theme song in my head, “waiting all day for Sunday night!” Kind of an interesting game choice, if we are being honest, but a good one nonetheless. I’ll come right out and say it, Rams. Rams. Rams. They are my pick to come out of the NFC, and I sprinkled on Matt Stafford for MVP at 17/1. Stafford was a premium player playing for a disastrous franchise in the Detroit Lions now we come to L.A. for Act II of his career and he get to team up with the most innovative mind in football in Sean McVay.
McVay took an average QB in Goff and built a winning team around him. Imagine what he can do with an elite QB. Goff is more of a system player, where Stafford is more versatile, which opens up the playbook for McVay.
Now the Bears are a respectable team that has made the playoffs two times in the last three years, but I am just so turned off by the decision to start Andy Dalton. Their offensive line is awful, so perhaps they don’t want to roll Justin Field out Week 1 with Aaron Donald barreling at him, but with the Red Rocket under center I can’t rock with Chicago.
The Rams are 4-0 under McVay in Week 1 games. Now while I think the Rams will win, the -7.5 is something to ponder. Both of the teams can play defense, and the under runs wild for the Bears in September and the Rams at home. I like the Rams to win but hesitate on that spread. I don’t have confidence in taking Chicago ATS here but it could end up being the right side if you feeling like rolling the dice with Da Bears.
Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Radiers: BAL +4, LVR -4, o/u 50.5
The final game of the week, and it’s a doozy. The Las Vegas Raiders will finally open the new Allegiant Stadium with fans in the stands on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore has been crippled with injuries, losing CB Marcus Peters and RB Gus Edwards on back-to-back plays in practice leading up to the game.
This has thrown a wrench in things, so hopefully we are up good after Sunday so we don’t have to chase here. Gotta like the Ravens, but the shellshock of injuries could be present on the field. They added Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell this week, but with a short time to prepare you to have to wonder what their impact might be.
Maybe the Raiders figure out a way to win in style to open up their new home, but it is the Raiders after all. Check back for more on this game closer to Monday as so much is up in the air.
OK! That’s it for the Week 1 Betting Guide now get on out there and be a weekend betting warrior! If you want to continue the conversation on social media you can find me on IG and Twitter @MediaByAP.