NFL Week 1 round-robin underdog moneyline parlay: Playing on early uncertainty
It's not quite a "now or never" situation, but Week 1 is a prime opportunity to hit a handful of underdog wins for two reasons.
We might think we know a lot about all 32 NFL teams, but we'll look back at the odds for a handful of games in disbelief by the end of the season. This is our chance to be ahead of the market on where a team is headed - either up or down.
The other key element is the unfamiliarity of the season's first game. The best players in the league barely played, if at all, in the preseason. A quarter of the league's teams have new coaches, and another quarter has drastically different player personnel. There are a lot of moving pieces.
Throw in the fact that we're talking about a sport featuring weird bounces and high-leverage plays that can change a game with limited possessions, and quite literally anything is possible this week. As a result, we'll grab the moneyline with five underdogs who might be more valuable than the market thinks and put them together in a 5x3 round-robin moneyline parlay.
How it works
We parlay five underdogs together in 10 different three-team parlays. Using every combination of a three-team parlay is called a round robin, so we're going to use a total of 1.1 units to make 11 different bets: 10 three-team parlays and one five-team parlay, each for .1 units. You'll likely double your money if three teams pull off the upset. If four teams win, you're connecting on four separate parlays and will be very pleased with the return. If all five teams win, as they did in Week 1 for us in 2021, then we'll be diving into our gold doubloon silo like a young Scrooge McDuck.
Who to play
Ah, sweet, sweet memories of Damien Harris fumbling late to give the Dolphins a Week 1 road victory in New England last year, clinching the five-for-five in our round-robin parlay. The Patriots went on to make the playoffs while the Dolphins revamped their organization, so a first-game result wasn't indicative of the season as a whole.
The teams meet in Miami this time, and the underdog is just as live. With the moneyline suggesting a 60-40 game that I think is far closer to a coin flip, we won't buy into the preseason talk about what the Dolphins might be and fade the idea that coaching is an issue in New England.
The market hates the Falcons, ranking them among the worst in the league. However, most of the roster was around last year, and Atlanta managed seven wins. It might not hit that total this year with Marcus Mariota replacing Matt Ryan, but a mobile quarterback opens up more variable results during high-leverage plays.
As much as I like the top-end potential of the Saints over the course of the season, there's a lot of gelling that needs to happen after a mostly useless preseason. What if New Orleans looks like its Week 1 opponent last year - the Packers - and isn't ready for the campaign like it hopes? A division-rival home 'dog paying 2-to-1 is worth inclusion here.
Another winner from last season's Week 1, the Steelers pieced together a road win against a Super Bowl hopeful despite not doing much on offense. With a solid defense and a far more mobile quarterback, they can do it again. Joe Burrow averaged 191 passing yards per game in three meetings with Pittsburgh, but the Bengals didn't need him to play well in those contests. However, they'll need him to perform this week. And if he struggles, we might get a big 'dog home.
It's indicative of the Texans' chances that this line dropped this week from +8 to +7. There's an expectation of a closer game than the market initially thought, which means a competitive fourth quarter. If that's the case, holding a +270 ticket on the Houston moneyline will be worthwhile. It wouldn't be out of character for Ryan to join Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz as veteran quarterbacks to frustrate Colts fans early.
We'd be a lot more excited about an early chance to fade Ryan Tannehill and the Titans if the Giants had done anything in the preseason to look like they might be respectable this campaign. However, we know not to get too caught up in what happens on the field in August, so we'll press on with the faith that Brian Daboll has more up his sleeve for the Giants' offense. Former Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has game planned for Tennessee three times in the last three years, so he'll be ready for what his opponent does with Derrick Henry.
Here are how the odds look this week:
Who are your five underdogs for a football betting lottery ticket?
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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