Football: Week 1 NFL ATS Rundown

Plenty of Late Line Movement, Barking Dogs

The much-awaited 2022 NFL season kicked off last night with the Buffalo Bills trouncing the defending champion Los Angeles Rams in a somewhat one-sided introduction for what should be a very fun year. The NFL made sure to get the season rolling on a high note with a big Week 1 matchup all over the place. With Russell Wilson visiting the Seahawks, big divisional meetings in Vikings-Packers and Raiders-Chargers, and the Buccaneers-Cowboys in prime time, there are some really interesting games from a Week 1 NFL ATS perspective.

Also, because the NFL point spreads for the opening week slate of games have been on the books since May, there has been plenty of line movement to analyze. So, there’s a lot to break down to understand why certain lines have moved a lot, while others have barely budged. Also, because it’s still so early in the NFL calendar, there’s much to be learned about every team. That’s why it might be a good idea to bet against some of the significant line movements {basically disagreeing with what the public is thinking} in an effort to take some of those free points.

Let’s hone in on a couple of the games that have seen the biggest shifts in terms of the spread:

Kansas City Chiefs (-6) at Arizona Cardinals

The Chiefs, coming off a fairly disappointing 2021 season in which they were stunned by the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, opened as mere three-point favorites on the road against the Arizona Cardinals when the Week 1 NFL ATS odds first opened in May. Now, though, after a very tumultuous offseason for Arizona — and one filled with personnel changes for Kansas City — Patrick Mahomes and Co. are favored by six points.

It’s a very tough spot for the Cardinals, whose NFL injury report is loaded with key contributors who might be sidelined opening Sunday. Plus, Arizona is without DeAndre Hopkins due to suspension and is still smarting from a playoff flame-out in a Wild Card round blowout loss to the Rams. Kyler Murray is under contract in the desert for the long term but he still has a lot to prove. While the Chiefs will have a few new faces to incorporate into the offense, they have the best player in the league under center so he’ll make that transition as easy as possible.

Look for the Chiefs to have a big offensive day against a Cardinals’ defense that fell apart down the stretch and might not have J.J. Watt on the field.

Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at New York Jets

With Zach Wilson having been officially ruled out until Week 4, it’s a revenge game in The Meadowlands on Sunday for Joe Flacco. Baltimore was originally seven-point favorites when lines opened but that dropped to 6.5 points around two weeks ago when it seemed like Wilson might be medically cleared. But, upon the news that Flacco will get the start, the Ravens moved back up to 7.5-point favorites even though J.K. Dobbins is still questionable.

It’s a pretty hefty line, especially with the Ravens on the road and the Jets, despite not having Wilson, boasting a much-improved roster that added a lot of talent via free agency and the draft. On the other hand, Baltimore is primed to have a bounce-back season after a disastrous 2021 campaign on basically all levels. This is an interesting game from a gambling perspective — whether or not Flacco can at least provide the Jets with some kind of offensive spark and if New York’s offensive line can give him time to throw. Neither of those is a given.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)

Here’s an intriguing one: Miami opened as 2.5-point favorites on the Week 1 NFL ATS lines which moved to -3 at the end of August, and now currently sits at -3.5. The Patriots didn’t look good in the preseason, particularly on offense, but they had an elite defense in 2021 and the Dolphins (who added Tyreek Hill) are still putting a lot of faith in the inconsistent left arm of Tua Tagovailoa.

While Mac Jones is far from a dominant force, it’s never easy to bet against Bill Belichick especially with the Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel making his head-coaching debut. But, Miami does tend to do well against the Patriots at home (for whatever that’s worth) — the Dolphins have won seven of the last nine meetings in the Sunshine State.

Denver Broncos (-6.5) at Seattle Seahawks

We’ll wrap up with a game that, on paper, probably should feature a spread larger than 6.5 points. Denver actually opened as 5.5-point favorites with the number rising a bit as it became readily apparent that Seattle was fully embracing a major rebuild. It’ll be fascinating to see how Russell Wilson plays in Seattle as a visiting player for the first time. He’s a professional, though, so he should be able to control his emotions and get a win but those types of games are always wild cards.

The Broncos have advantages over the Seahawks across the board, specifically under center with Seattle turning to Geno Smith. Sure, 6.5 points is a big spread and the Seahawks will have the 12th Man behind them; yet it’s hard to imagine Denver laying an egg after the Broncos’ super-active offseason. Seattle has the potential to be one of the NFL’s worst teams this season and this line is a little generous to Pete Carroll’s bunch, evidenced by the significant late line movement.

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