With the NFL season kicking off this Thursday, Sept. 5, it’s a good time to look at what Week 1 lines have moved over the past week and why.

The NFL lines you find at New Jersey sportsbooks move ahead of a game for a variety of reasons.

A key injury or continued holdout might affect one team’s chances and force oddsmakers into action. An increased chance of inclement weather on gameday might even force NJ sportsbooks to move a line (we’re looking at you, Hurricane Dorian).

These are all legitimate on-the-field reasons why oddsmakers might adjust a line ahead of kickoff. It’s easy to see why oddsmakers are suddenly thinking differently.

Sometimes, it’s not so easy. Sometimes, oddsmakers aren’t thinking any differently, but the line is altered anyway.

A big bet or increased action on one side often forces sportsbooks to move a line. They do this to attract bets on the other side and limit the sportsbook’s exposure.

Oddsmakers clearly believe in the original line they set. There’s no legitimate on-the-field reason to change it, thereby giving you an opportunity to book a bet at a better price, take more, or give away fewer points when the on-the-field matchup doesn’t really warrant it.

Bet on oddsmakers being right

NFL oddsmakers have become stunningly accurate when it comes to setting lines. That’s why getting an extra point or point and a half on the spread can be extremely valuable.

So valuable, sportsbooks might force you to lay big bucks for it in alternative line markets.

When sportsbooks move a line because of a big bet or increased action on one side, you get all that value for nothing.

Think of it like betting on oddsmakers being right the first time they set the line. If they are as accurate as they usually are you’ll walk away a big winner.

NFL Week 1 lines and movement

Below is a look at the current point spread and totals lines for all 16 Week 1 NFL games at two of the top NJ sports betting apps.

This includes DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. If the sportsbooks have moved a line, the line from last week is in brackets on the chart.

NFL Week 1DraftKings SportsbookFanDuel Sportsbook
Green Bay
Chicago
46.5 (46)
-3
46.5
-3
Atlanta
Minnesota
48 (47.5)
-4
48 (47.5)
-4
Baltimore
Miami
-7 (-5.5)
37.5
-7.5 (-5)
37.5
Buffalo
NY Jets
40.5 (40)
-3
41 (39.5)
-3
Kansas City
Jacksonville
-3.5
52 (52.5)
-3.5
52.5
LA Rams
Carolina
-2.5 (-3)
50
-2.5 (-3)
50.5
Tennessee
Cleveland
45.5
-5.5
45.5
-5 (-5.5)
Washington
Philadelphia
45.5
-9.5 (-8.5)
45.5 (46)
-10 (-8.5)
Cincinnati
Seattle
43.5 (44)
-8.5 (-9)
44 (43)
-10
Indianapolis
LA Chargers
44.5
-6.5
45 (44)
-6.5
Detroit
Arizona
-2.5
47 (48)
-2.5
47
NY Giants
Dallas
45.5
-7
46
-7.5 (-7)
SF 49ers
Tampa Bay
50
pk (-1)
50.5 (49)
-1
Pittsburgh
New England
50.5 (51)
-5.5 (-6)
50.5
-5.5 (-6)
Houston
New Orleans
53.5
-7
52.5 (53.5)
-7
Denver
Oakland
43.5 (43)
pk (-1)
43
-1

Eagles spread increasing

As you can clearly see in the chart, the point spread on the Philadelphia Eagles-Washington Redskins game has moved. Philadelphia was always the favorite, but now it’s up to Eagles -9.5 on DraftKings and -10 on FanDuel.

Look around and you won’t find many on-the-field reasons for the move.

Both teams have made a few small roster moves. Plus, the Eagles confirmed a small injury won’t keep receiver DeSean Jackson out of the game.

But these things alone wouldn’t normally warrant any movement in the line. Instead, it looks like a move caused by increased action on Philadelphia.

This should be no surprise since there is a strong Eagles fanbase in New Jersey. Case in point is this tweet below:

Philadelphia is the better team, but this early in the season it’s hard for any team to cover as much as 9.5 points.

Philadelphia is most likely going to beat Washington here. The question is by how much.

Oddsmakers clearly believe it’ll be by around nine. So, the extra point you can get on the Redskins right now may make Washington a good value bet.

Line moves on road favorite Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens have gone from -5 or -5.5 favorites on the road against the Miami Dolphins to -7 or -7.5 in the span of a week.

Again, these teams haven’t really done much in that time outside of finalizing the rosters.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores did name Ryan Fitzpatrick the Week 1 starter at quarterback over Josh Rosen. However, Miami’s move to go with a proven veteran over a second-year player that has lost more than he’s won seems to favor Miami, not Baltimore.

Therefore, this may be another situation where the line has moved because of heavy betting on one side.

If that is the case, Miami +7.5 could be another great value bet. After all, Miami is at home and it’s hard to beat a team by a touchdown in their own house. Even if pundits are predicting there may be no worse team in the NFL this year.

Bottom line: Watch the lines

As game day approaches, and the entire NFL season continues, look for any kind of significant movements in NFL odds at NJ sportsbooks.

Then, ask yourself why.

If there’s no legitimate on-the-field reason, you may be able to take advantage of a move a sportsbook just made.

Martin Derbyshire

About

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.