The official 2021 NFL schedule has finally been released, and while it's impossible to make a perfectly fair slate for all 32 teams - nor is that the goal - some clubs have it worse than others. That's never been more evident than this season, with some franchises getting fewer home games than others and all having to play an additional game without an extra bye week.
Some games from the upcoming campaign's schedule stand out in particular as classic spots to bet against the spread. Here are five games worth circling early:
Over the last 10 years, only one club has a worse ATS record in Week 1 than Pittsburgh (2-8 ATS), which pulled away late in last year's opening week win to snap a three-game losing streak ATS in that spot. Conversely, Buffalo is tied for the most Week 1 ATS wins (7) in that 10-year stretch and is 3-1 ATS since Sean McDermott took over in 2017.
The Bills have claimed the last two meetings in this series and have covered two of their last three home games against the Steelers. This simply isn't the matchup Pittsburgh bettors would have hoped for in Week 1.
The last time the NFL shipped its teams overseas was in 2019 when all eight teams in the series were afflicted with the "London curse" - each one was either blown out or upset outright in its first game back in the states. That trend included the Jaguars, which extended their post-London record to 2-5 straight up / 3-3-1 ATS with a pair of 20-point defeats.
This year the reward for Jacksonville's eighth trip to London in nine years is a follow-up journey to Seattle, where the Seahawks have won 76.9% of their games since drafting Russell Wilson in 2012 with a 59.2% cover rate. With a rookie quarterback likely leading the Jags through such treacherous waters, it's best to stay away from the road side in this one.
Whether it's because of location, rowdy fans, or the team's aggressive playing style, a road game against the Raiders has been hard to shake in recent years. Since 2013, teams that travel to face the silver and black are 18-39-2 ATS (31.6%) in the following game, while clubs playing a road game in that subsequent week are even worse at 5-17 ATS (22.7%).
The trip to Las Vegas once again wore out teams in 2020 - visiting squads went 5-3 SU in the following game but just 2-6 ATS with two losses by more than 25 points and zero wins by more than a touchdown. The Eagles travel to Las Vegas in Week 7 and could be in trouble a week later at the Lions.
The Ravens will enjoy a benefit in this game that only a handful of teams have ever seen before them: Four straight home games. In the last 20 seasons, only five other clubs have played at least four consecutive home matchups at any point during the regular season - those clubs went 5-0 ATS and outscored opponents by 15.4 points on average in that fourth contest.
Baltimore will also be coming off a Week 8 bye, making it the fifth straight week this group will sleep in its own beds ahead of its meeting with the Vikings. John Harbaugh is 9-4 ATS after a regular-season bye week, and he's 9-5 ATS in his team's last 14 home games dating back to 2019.
While some coaches use the bye week to their advantage, some consistently squander the opportunity. Few do that more than Washington coach Ron Rivera, who has lost three straight ATS after a regular-season bye week and is 3-7 ATS over his career in that spot.
Tom Brady struggled early on when opponents had an extra week to prepare, opening his career with a 4-7 ATS record in the regular season against a team coming off a bye. That isn't the case anymore - now the Buccaneers quarterback is a ridiculous 9-2 ATS since 2014, and he should be well-suited to extend that run in 2021.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.