The Patriots’ season is closer but betting on NFL games has already begun.
Game lines are out for the Patriots’ entire 17-game schedule, and New England is an underdog in eight games with two “pick’em” games at home against the Colts and Ravens.
A lot can happen before kickoff that can change the line drastically. Injuries play a major factor and COVID-19 issues can create problems from week to week. While there is a reality of betting on a team now and getting a bad number because of these factors, there is also the reality of getting ahead of the market. For example, the Patriots are -1 on the spread and -120 moneyline favorites for Week 2 in Pittsburgh.
Let’s say Bill Belichick and crew win the season opener against Miami. That -120 money line against the Steelers will be long gone and you will have lost value. Of course, money on the Patriots will also make that number juicier, which means betting New England at -120 now is a good play. There’s no way of knowing what will happen between now and kickoff — which is why we call it gambling.
If you don’t want to bet games so far ahead, you have plenty of other options including player props, win totals, division and conference winners, make/miss playoffs and season awards. It’s overwhelming how many different bets you can make before the season even starts. My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you line shop (check out all the different books and markets for the best number).
You should also limit exposure with bets that rely on the same result. If you think the Patriots exceed expectations and you bet them to go over their win total, win the division and conference, you’re a major injury or losing streak away from losing all of those bets. Instead, bet one of them and then maybe another later in the season if you are still confident and are still finding value in the market. A reminder: We will continue to break down the Patriots’ futures and schedule all summer on “The Ultimate Betting Show” on NESN (weekdays at 5:30 p.m. ET).
Another way to find value months ahead of September is by identifying one bet you like and finding a correlated play that has a better price. For example, DraftKings Sportsbook bookmakers set the Bills to have the highest win total at 11.5. They’ve seen money on the over already to where it’s juiced to -140. You would be risking $140 to win $100 if you think they win 12 games. Or, at that same book, you can bet the Bills to have the most regular-season wins in the league at +450. It’s not the same bet but if the bookmakers and market are telling you they expect the Bills will have 12 wins and that’s the highest total set on the board, wouldn’t you rather risk $100 to win $450 for what is essentially the same result?
The same goes for the team expected to have the fewest wins in the league: the Houston Texans. At DraftKings, Houston’s win total is the lowest, set at 4.5, juiced -120 to the under. You would be risking $120 to win $100. Instead, you can bet them to have the fewest wins at +275 — risking $100 to win $275.
As with any futures bet, keep in mind you won’t be cashing out a ticket for a while. Also remember that a lot of the future markets will still be available throughout the season, with odds changing. In some cases, those changes will be drastic. The Bengals were 150-1 to win the Super Bowl before the 2021 season started, the same odds as the Jets. Cincinnati’s odds dropped all the way to 20-1 before the NFL playoffs began.
As always, keep in mind your unit size and bankroll. It’s going to be a long football season. If it’s an action bet, don’t bet your full unit. Have fun with it but bet responsibly.