Fishy Lines for NFL Week 1
This Sunday marks the first football Sunday of the 2020 NFL season. Reverse line movement, especially in the NFL, is a great indicator of where the sharp money is going. For example, if most bets are on one team, but the line moves in favor of the other team, the sharps are likely on the contrarian side. Here are the fishiest lines heading into the first NFL weekend of the year.
Philadelphia Eagles at The Washington Football Team
This is the fishiest line of the weekend. With 54% of bets on the Eagles, the line moved in favor of the Washington Football Team. Philadelphia opened as 6.5-point favorites, and the line moved to 5.5. The same goes for the money line as 67% of bets are on the Eagles moneyline. However, Philly went from -290 to -255. It’s a very contrarian line move with the public perception being the Eagles will easily win this game against a Washington team that had three wins last year.
In 2019, the same matchup took place in the first week of the season. Philadelphia beat Washington 32-27 with Washington covering as 10-point underdogs. It already shows improvement with Washington cutting that spread in half. The new coaching staff with two defensive-minded coaches in head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio can help bolster a defense that ranked bottom ten last season.
The addition of the best defensive player in the 2020 NFL Draft, Chase Young, also helps Washington’s pass rush. Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins played well against the Eagles in week 15 last year, going 19-of-28 for 261 passing yards and two touchdowns despite the Eagles winning 37-27.
Regarding the Eagles, quarterback Carson Wentz has not lost to Washington since his rookie season in 2016. In Week 1 last year, Eagles’ wide receiver DeSean Jackson had eight receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns. After Week 1, Jackson appeared in just one more game due to a core muscle injury. There have been injuries to this Eagles offensive line, including a recent questionable tag on offensive tackle Lane Johnson who has an upper-body injury. Some other injuries include wide receiver Alshon Jeffery who is out with a foot injury, and running back Miles Sanders is questionable with a hamstring issue.
I am not saying to fade the Eagles. I would just be wary of the reverse line movement, and this spread falling in limbo at 5.5.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the reigning NFL MVP and up against the public’s biggest letdown team of 2019, the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore is the home team getting 51% of best on the spread and 77% of bets on the moneyline. With that said, the line has moved against Baltimore moving from 8.5-point favorites down to 7.5-point favorites. On the moneyline, the Ravens went from -360 to -330.
The last time Baltimore swept both games over Cleveland was 2017. The Browns beat the Ravens in Cleveland 12-9 in overtime back in 2018, while last season, Cleveland stunned Baltimore week four at M&T Bank Stadium 40-25. The Ravens came back in Week 16 last year, beating the Browns in Cleveland 31-15.
The biggest difference in that game was the Ravens’ ability to stop the Browns run game. Browns running back Nick Chubb ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the Browns week three win. In week 16, Chubb was limited to 45 yards and zero touchdowns on the ground.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
In this game, the reverse line movement between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, has nothing to do with a side. The total is a little fishy here. While 80% of bets are on the over, this total has gone down from 49.5 to 47.5.
Last season, the Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston led the league with 30 interceptions. The turnovers not only tired out Tampa Bay’s defense, but it gave the opposition a short field on multiple occasions. As a result, the Bucs gave up the fourth-most points per game in the NFL last year (28.1 PPG).
Buccaneers three-time Pro Bowler Mike Evans is nursing a hamstring injury and will be a game-time decision. This led to sharp money forcing the move to the under. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said Friday, “He (Evans) did some individual stuff today. We’ll see if he’s sore tomorrow.” Arians also believes the hamstring injury is not on the same leg with which the wide receiver dealt with a hamstring injury late last year. Evans missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
This line flipped from the Titans being listed as underdogs at +1.5 to the Titans becoming road favorites at -2.5. On the moneyline, the Titans flipped from +106 at the beginning of September to -134 going into opening weekend.
The Broncos loss of eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller helped push this line further in Tennessee’s direction. Miller had surgery on a dislocated peroneal tendon in his ankle Friday morning, with the recovery time being four to six months.
The Broncos defense was supposed to improve this year with Miller and second-year starting linebacker Bradley Chubb on the other side. Chubb could still play this weekend; however, he’s been nursing a knee injury. The Titans leading rusher Derrick Henry could take advantage in the ground game. Tennessee’s offense ranked third last year in rushing, averaging 138.9 rushing yards per game.