NFL 2021: Preseason Week 1

Football fans rejoice at first full weekend of preseason games since 2019

All around the world, it has been a tough year for sport. Against all the odds, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally took place between 23rd July and 8th August and were a huge success despite the lack of international spectators. Now it’s the turn of the NFL – a year after the cancellation of the entire exhibition season, fans are excited at the prospect of seeing all 32 teams return to the field. 

The preseason began on Thursday 5th August, when the Dallas Cowboys suffered a 16-3 defeat by the Pittsburgh Stealers at a Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Early Favorites

Sunday 15th August will see an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Buccaneers are a huge favorite here, boasting odds of -240 vs +200 for the Bengals. This represents a spread of -6 / + 6, demonstrating the huge gap in expected performance between these two teams. 

Of course, few will be surprised that the Buccaneers are six-point picks over their visitors – they start the preseason as last years Superbowl winners, in contrast to the Bengals 4-11-1 stats for 2020 – a disappointing result for any team, but particularly as this was the third consecutive year of double-digit losses racked up by Cincinnati. 

The numbers don’t always tell the whole story, of course – right behind the Bucs are the Chicago Bears, set to play the Miami Dolphins on Saturday 14th August. The top sites for Sports Betting in PA have the Bears at -180 vs +155, but the spread of just 3.5 points has surprised some observers considering the Bears finished 8-8 last season in comparison to 10-6 for the Dolphins.

Lowest Spreads

Depending on your preferred betting strategy, you may be interested to hear which games are currently offering the lowest spread. Four games are currently tied in this regard with +/- 1:

  • Philadelphia Eagles ( -120 ) vs Pittsburgh Steelers ( +100 )
  • Tennessee Titans ( -120 ) vs Atlanta Falcons ( +100 )
  • Denver Broncos ( -120 ) vs Minnesota Vikings ( +100 )
  • Jacksonville Jaguars ( -120 ) vs Cleveland Browns ( +100 )

Biggest Total

Right now, the highest total stands at 40 points – shockingly, this is for the Dallas Cowboys away game against the Arizona Cardinals, despite the terrible performance exhibited by Dallas at their Hall of Fame Game where they managed just a single field goal. This led to some in the media to poke fun at the teams expense, joking that their cheerleaders had been much more successful that day.

As a side note, the lowest over/under is 33.5 points for the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers showdown. Both teams have suffered widely reported drama in recent weeks involving their quarterbacks – Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers. Both of these players decided to skip OTA’s and minicamp following these spats, and this definitely seems to have been noticed judging by these numbers.

Biggest Shock of the Weekend

Preseason or not, who would have guessed that the New England Patriots would find themselves as the underdog – +115 against -135 – at a home game, too. Crazier still, the Patriots are 2.5-point dogs too. They are set to face the Washington Football Team, who had an identical result of 7-9 last season, which might not have felt like the end of the world for Washington – they did win the NFC East, after all – but for the Patriots, this spelt the end of their outstanding run of 19 back-to-back winning seasons. 

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with Washington in this game – their star quarterback Alex Smith was released in the offseason, so recently signed free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently the favorite to be his starting replacement. 

The Patriots still have Cam Newton, who is undoubtedly an excellent quarterback despite his fairly mediocre start last year. In truth, it probably wouldn’t matter who had replaced Tom Brady – they were always going to struggle to fill his boots. The Patriots scored Mac Jones as a first-round draft pick too, so despite the numbers being quoted by the bookmakers, it would be surprising if the Patriots didn’t manage to pull this one out of the bag.

Summing Up

Whatever happens over the weekend, the majority of NFL fans are happy just to be seeing some normality return to America’s favorite sport. The contradictions shown between the odds currently being quoted by the bookmakers and the picks being made by the pundits indicate that significant bets have been placed on these games by dedicated fans with a belief that their favorite team will come out swinging this preseason. Best of luck to everyone, whoever your team, and however you’ve bet!

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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