The countdown to football season is one of the most anticipated “look-aheads” in all of sports. As Happy Gilmore once famously quoted, “…364 more days until next year’s hockey tryouts…” Some fan bases would tell you that the countdown begins once they come to the realization that their team has a better chance of giving up 100 points in a single game than make the playoffs. Sometimes, this optimism from such fan bases is warranted seeing how on average six of the 14 playoff members are not present in the following season. For example, these teams were absent from the 2021 NFL Playoffs but were members in the 2022 tournament: Cincinnati, Las Vegas, New England, Arizona, San Francisco, Dallas, and Philadelphia. This year exceeded the six number with seven new members entering the NFL Playoffs. So why not start your countdown as soon as possible because each new season is just that! The parody surrounding the NFL is real and might go in the favor of your team any given year! So without further ado, game one of the NFL regular season is just two days out which features the Rams hosting the Bills on September 8th for Thursday Night Football. Here is the full slate of the NFL Week 1 matchups.
With the preseason underway, we finally get to see some of the new faces and “old” faces in new uniforms. We are all aware of the Brown’s newest and rather suspect acquisition, Deshawn Watson. However, who were some of the other house-hold-names making big splashes around the league? There were a plethora as the league saw Russell Wilson become a Bronco, Tyreek Hill dive into Miami, Khalil Mack came to the Chargers, Davante Adams lusted over Las Vegas as he was reunited with his former college quarterback, Derek Carr. To round out some of the more impactful off season transactions, Matt Ryan was enticed to move to Indianapolis. The lack of continuity that will inevitably exist between a good portion of these franchises could make for a rather unpredictable fantasy football season featuring a rather large amount of “sleepers” emerging whereas those previously mentioned “house-hold-names” could be overvalued if one were to assume that they would continue to produce at a high level despite the change of scenery. In regards to your fantasy football lineups, two teams come to mind when looking to acquire some potential “sleepers” at the WR position. The Cowboys and Chiefs, both of which lost their number one options at the receiving position via trades. Amari Cooper is now a Brown whereas Tyreek Hill is now a Dolphin. With Cooper being targeted 104 times and Hill 159 times, those 263 targets are going to be divvied up amongst other wide-receivers between these two franchises. The Cowboys WR Depth Chart is as follows: CeeDee Lamb > Jalen Tolbert > Noah Brown > Dennis Houston. The Chiefs WR room is as follows: JuJu Smith-Schuster > Marquez Valdes-Scantling > Mecole Hardman > Skyy Moore. As far as running-backs are concerned, fantasypros.com recommends taking a flyer on the following available free-agent RB’s in your respective league(s): Dameon Pierce (Texans), Brian Robinson Jr. (Commanders), Jerick McKinnon (Chiefs), Darrell Henderson Jr. (Rams).
The OVER hit at a 57% rate this preseason. For our Week 1 plays, let’s continue to be on the side of this trend when making our O/U plays with one caveat – divisional rivals tend to favor scores resulting in the UNDER. There you have it, an easy Week 1 blind-play for ya! Divisional opponents = UNDER, all others = OVER. For the record, six of the sixteen Week 1 match-ups are within a division (i.e. AFC West).
If we take the names on the back of the jerseys away from our sports gambling strategies, we can hone in on some previous NFL Week 1 trends to get us ahead of the 8-ball before we even begin to calculate and determine our Week 1 plays. Although there are typically only three NFL preseason opponents nowadays, it is said that if a team goes 0-4 in these games then they only have a 30% ATS rate against their Week 1 opponent. Now that there are only the three games, we only saw one team this preseason windup sitting at 0-4, the Jaguars *only two teams competed in four preseason games: the Raiders and Jaguars by way of the annual NFL Hall of Fame game in Canton, OH.* Nevertheless, there could still be some potential value in fading the handful of teams that finished 0-3: Bucs, Chargers, Commanders, Seahawks, and Vikings. Let’s keep an eye on these six teams as maybe there is some validity and insightfulness to these “waste-of-time” preseason games. Another aspect that we can blindly use for our Week 1 plays around the NFL falls within the turnover margin umbrella. You see, history shows that teams that accrued poor turnover differential one year typically display a much more gracious margin the following year. In a nutshell, this statistic is said to be more so based on luck as opposed to anything else; giving way for a “what goes up, must come down” correlation between any two given franchises seasons. Now, let’s take a look at some of the top performers and under achievers in the 2021 NFL campaign, as far as turnover differential is concerned – shall we?! Of the six teams provided that finished the preseason at 0-3 or 0-4, three of which finished the previous season with a positive turnover margin over their opponents. The Vikings, Bucs, and Seahawks tallied a combined +26 turnover differential. I foresee the tides to turn and for at least two of these organizations to not cover their respective Week 1 point-spread lines. Week 1 features the Packers @ Vikings (+2.5), Bucs @ Cowboys (+2), and the Broncos @ Seahawks (+4.5). Of these three matchups, I am leaning towards fading the Bucs laying a couple of points on the road. Maybe, just maybe, this is the season that Brady finally begins to physically deplete while Dak hits his peak. Give me the points for the home underdog!