Week one of the NFL season is a chance for teams to set the tone for the rest of their season, and a great way to do that is to play well on their home field. Home field advantage is one of the most highly coveted things in the sport, with teams playing entire seasons with the aim of earning it for the playoffs. But is home field advantage in the early portion of the NFL season overrated?
There are a couple of mitigating factors to the intensity of home field advantage early in the NFL season. The first is the lack of a weather advantage in certain parts of the country. Where the Packers and other teams in the north are able to built teams that are compatible with cold weather for the late stages of the season, the weather around the country is either mild or outright hot depending on where a game is being held.
Then there is the fact that early season games just don’t carry the same level of intensity as their late season counterparts. While NFL fans are extremely passionate all year, they don’t have the same tendency to live and die by every play in the first week of the year as they would in the last few weeks of the season where the playoff picture has been made clearer. As a result, you may not get the same crowd noise or impact from those in attendance.
As for the actual performances of home teams in week one of the NFL season, recent results have been far from impressive. Teams hosting week one games are 23-24 over the last three seasons straight up, with the Buccaneers and Dolphins being postponed in week one of the 2017 season due to inclement weather in the state of Florida.
Of course, some games can be ignored on both sides of that win-loss figure due to talent mismatches or similar things that would make the portion of the season or who was hosting the game irrelevant. But the fact of the matter is that a coin flip has had a slightly better chance of ending with a favorable result than a home team winning in the first week of the NFL season.
What does this mean for bettors? It means that it could be worth taking a look at some road underdogs to win straight up in the first week of the NFL season. After all, with plenty of teams changing coaches and personnel, it isn’t a guarantee that teams are going to perform the way that most people think they will on paper. And with early season upsets being somewhat common as teams figure things out, getting in on the road underdog action is a move worth making.
Notable upsets in the first week of the season have included the Jimmy Garoppolo-led Patriots beating the Cardinals in Arizona to start the 2016 season, and the Chiefs hanging 42 on the Patriots in Gillette to start the 2017 campaign. With both underdogs winning outright as 9.5 and 9-point underdogs, respectively, finding this year’s big week one upset is a potentially lucrative challenge.