Dave Carney 9/7/2021
What’s on the table today?: NFL Week 1 “trap” game and AFC over/under’s with a KICK!
The first week of the NFL season is upon us and Thursday night we’ll get to see Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers face off against Dak Prescott and the dreadful Dallas Cowboys coached by “Biggest Loser” candidate Mike McCarthy.
Sunday afternoon the rest of the NFL season kicks off and while I’ve been all over the Kansas City Chiefs to beat up on the Cleveland Browns in their opener, some information from Covers.com has me thinking that PERHAPS this Browns/Chiefs matchup is one that COULD be a “trap” game for the Chiefs who are laying 6.5 versus Cleveland.
Letdown spot: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-6, 53.5)
The letdown spot is the rarest of situational spots in Week 1 because there’s nothing to “letdown” from. However, if we have to pick one game (and it sounds like I do…) with a potential letdown angle, we have to look to the Chiefs coming off a loss in Super Bowl LV.
Big Game hangovers are a real thing, enough to warrant their own Wikipedia entry. The one historic trend bettors should concern themselves with is the fact that since 2000, Super Bowl losers are just 9-12 SU and 5-16 ATS in Week 1 of the following season.
If any team can push back against this hangover trend it’s the mighty Chiefs, who are laying six points at home to Cleveland on Sunday. The Browns are battling their own Week 1 demons, having gone just 1-19-1 SU and 5-15-1 ATS in the season opener since 2000. It’s a record that Kevin Stefanski’s team is well aware of — and a hill to conquer if Cleveland is going to play among the league’s elite in 2021.
If you weren’t confused enough about this game, there’s a dash of revenge spot in there too. Cleveland fell 22-17 at Kansas City in the AFC Divisional Round last January, giving the Chiefs a 19-3 head start before outscoring them 14-3 in the second half. The Browns know they can stand toe-to-toe with KC and appear stronger than last season’s squad — at least on paper.
There is also some interesting information being provided from our friends at VegasInsider.com that breaks down a scenario in the AFC which can be seen as a warning for bettors over the past two seasons.
Backing ‘over’s in games that feature AFC playoff teams from the previous season.
AFC playoff teams are on a 3-11 O/U run against any opponent in Week 1 the last three seasons.
This was a run that was 1-8 O/U entering the first week of the 2020 season, and of the five games that applied (2019 playoff teams Houston and KC played in Week 1 so the result is counted only once), we still saw an overall 2-3 O/U record be the end result. Houston and KC managed to go ‘over’ the closing number of 53.5 by the hook, while Buffalo was the other team to cash an ‘over’ ticket, but did so in a 27-17 win over the Jets with a sub-40 closing total (39). The other three 2019 AFC playoff teams – Baltimore, New England, and Tennessee – all had the ‘unders’ cash relatively easily.
2021 has that 7 th AFC playoff team to account for, but this situation is still only applicable to five Week 1 games:
Cleveland/Kansas City (53)
Baltimore/Las Vegas (51)
Only having five games apply means that two of them – Pittsburgh/Buffalo and Cleveland/KC – have both sides coming off playoff years and it will be interesting to see how those play out. The Chiefs were in an identical spot last season when they opened up against Houston and the 54 points in the final score only cashed ‘over’ tickets based on if you had bet that game sometime during the day of the game in all likelihood. Originally that total opened up at 56.5 earlier in the summer and had seen constant support for the ‘under’ as it kept creeping down to it’s eventual closing number of 53.5.
**For more info on TOTAL plays, OVER/UNDER, and PLUS/MINUS plays, TEASER cards and more, check back through some previous columns for detailed information**
REMEMBER – don’t bet based upon my recommendations. Do your research. Stay in your lane