Predicting the winners of NFL games is almost never an easy task (unless it’s a game that includes the 0-12 New York Jets) and it certainly isn’t an exact science. That was revealed in Week 1, with oddsmakers missing more than a couple of cues. Overall, nine games were won by the underdogs, and whether this is a trend or first-game jitters will be determined in Week 2.
Raiders Take Down the Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens went into their game against the Las Vegas Raiders the clear favorite at -215. For a while, it looked like they might win, too. However, playing on their own field, the Raiders were determined to win and the game turned into a grudge match – albeit an ugly won – that wasn’t decided until overtime.
The Ravens were off to a strong 14-0 start before the Raiders began clawing back, and the race was on from there. Even Raiders head coach Jon Gruden couldn’t believe how things turned out, comparing his emotions to a cat with nine lives. Being +175 underdogs would have seemed to be too much of a long shot, but the Raiders, as they have done numerous times over the years, proved everyone wrong and won 33-27 after a hard-fought battle.
Steelers Bounce Back Against the Bills
The Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in a similar predicament as the Raiders when they were trailing 10-0 against the Buffalo Bills at the half in their Week 1 game. The Steelers have been known year after year for having a superior defense, although it sputtered a little last season, and that defense came to life in the second half. The Bills were held to six points across two quarters and an additional blocked punt gave the Steelers the momentum they needed.
Pittsburgh was a +240 underdog before the game, but that meant little to them. By the end of regulation, they had climbed out of their hole and took the 23-16 win. As the team starts to find its footing, the Steelers can be expected to make a deep run again this year.
Texans Trap the Jags
Before the season, there was a lot of chatter about both the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. No one knew quite what to expect out of these teams, but Houston was banking on Trevor Lawrence to make a difference as QB. He didn’t disappoint his teammates or sports bettors who went for broke in Week 1.
The Texans were +198 underdogs in the game, even though the outcome of the game was essentially going to be a coin toss. Nevertheless, Houston got the job done when it needed to and ended up walking away with a 37-21 win. The 34.5 Over/Under was an indication of what oddsmakers anticipated, although almost everyone knew the score would go over.
Eagles Fly Higher Than Falcons
If the Week 1 game is any indication, the Atlanta Falcons don’t seem to have made a lot of improvements since swapping around coaches last year. However, before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, they were getting most of the support from oddsmakers. A mistake, as everyone knows Eagles fly higher than Falcons.
The Eagles were +180 underdogs and, much to the dismay of sportsbooks, attracted a lot of attention from bettors. When the final seconds ticked away, the Falcons were already running for the showers, anxiously looking to put some distance between themselves and their 31-6 loss.
Other Underdogs Prevailed, Also
One of the biggest upsets of the Week 1 slate was likely the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. The Saints have been dealing with a lot of injuries, and are now dealing with COVID-19 issues, but losing several key players didn’t stop them on the field. Despite being +230 underdogs, they rolled over the Packers 38-3.
Elsewhere, the Arizona Cardinals (+140) took down the Tennessee Titans and the LA Chargers (+120) overcame the Washington Football Team. The Cincinnati Bengals (+175) eked out an overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings for the underdog win and, in addition, the Miami Dolphins (+170) barely squeezed out a win against the New England Patriots.