2021 NFL Betting Guide: Early Notes

NFL Jul 25, 2021

It's never too early to start thinking about the NFL.  And if you bet on the NFL, especially things like season win totals and other futures and team/player props, you should be working on this by now and have some idea of what the season might look like.  

The first preseason game is two weeks away.  The regular season begins on Thursday, Sept. 9th, with a primetime game featuring Dallas at Super Bowl Champion, Tampa Bay.

What follows are my betting notes, in part, heading into the new season.  Keep in mind, this article is a work in progress.  My notes and opinions are subject to change – and in some cases will change.  However, it's a good idea to have some sense of direction about where values exist before the season kicks off.


  1. For the first time, the NFL will play 17 regular season games, up from the 16-game schedule that's been a tradition for more than 40 years.  The season is actually 18-weeks long, but each team gets one bye week.  This additional game must be taken into account when evaluating season win totals.  It could also create more "meaningless" late season games.  Since some division winners will be settled by December, there's a greater likelihood of more games that won't matter in the final weeks.
  2. With COVID still hanging in the air, there's some chance the NFL season could be affected.  The league just announced strict guidelines for dealing with any outbreaks.  In fact, teams could end up forfeiting games.  What all this means is – more randomness.  What more randomness means is – added value to underdogs and longshots.  However, well-coached teams with better discipline could also benefit since these are usually winning organizations with superior ways in dealing with challenges, including the risks of infection.  READ MORE HERE
  3. After a year of empty stadiums and in some cases limited spectators, fans will be back in 2021.  It's hard to quantify emotion in sports betting, but home field advantage – which seemed to disappear entirely last season – should be a factor again, especially with regards to making pointspreads.  Watch the early part of the season very carefully to see if the home field edge returns in the NFL.


  1. NFL teams will play 20 games – 17 regular season games and 3 exhibition games.  The AFC teams get the extra home game this season.
  2. The 2021 regular season actually ends on January 9th, with games in Buffalo and Cleveland.
  3. The long-suffering NY Jets traded QB Sam Darnold to Carolina this past winter; this makes for an interesting Week 1 matchup, Jets at Carolina.
  4. Christmas falls on a Saturday this year.  Halloween is on a Sunday.  There are two Christmas Day games – Browns at Packers and Colts at Cardinals.
  5. The Cowboys-Buccaneers is the Week 1 Thursday kickoff game, where the defending champ traditionally opens the next season at home.  Note that the home team is 15-3 SU in this game over the last 18 years, and 11-3-4 against the spread.
  6. You think the NFL foresees Aaron Rodgers being traded to Denver?  Probably not,.  The Broncos have one game on in prime-time.  Green Bay has five.
  7. NFL doesn’t think much of the Patriots; only three primetime games, one of which is Tom Brady’s much-anticipated return to Foxboro in Week 4.
  8. The Thanksgiving Day slate is as follows:
    Bears at Detroit, Raiders at Dallas, Bills at New Orleans
  9. Every NFL team got at least one primetime game.  Eight teams got just one.  Nine teams got the maximum five primetime games.
  10. Seven NFL teams have new head coaches this season.
  11. 13 teams have new OC's, and 15 have new DC’s.  This could be a factor when capping games, especially early in the season as adjustments are being made.
  12. During the last two seasons, the LA Chargers were 7-16 in games decided by 8 or fewer points; they were only 9-7 in games they led at halftime, 9-5 in games they led after three quarters, which is why they now have a new coach.  Many "experts" expect major improvement by the Chargers this season.
  13. Since 2012, the Jacksonville Jaguars are 39-105, five fewer wins than any other NFL team (Cleveland ranks second from the bottom in wins).
  14. There is some hope for the Jaguars; of the last seven head coaches to jump from college to the NFL, three of them made the playoffs in their first season.
  15. The Las Vegas Raiders have had one winning season in last 18 years.  Much of the problems is with the defense.  Over last four years, the Raiders ranked 29th-30th-31st-28th in defensive efficiency.  Note to self:  Keep betting Randers games to go OVER the total.
  16. Will having fans back in their stadium help the Minnesota Vikings?  From 2016-19 in their new home, Vikings were 21-9-3 ATS at home; lat year, they were 2-6 ATS.
  17. Over last three years, the Eagles are 10-18 ATS as a favourite, 7-11 as an underdog. The UNDER is 17-7 in their home games, OVER 14-7 in their road contests.
  18. The Detroit Lions were 14-34 SU last three years; they haven’t won a playoff game since 1991.  Last three years, OVER is 21-10 in their games.  The Lions are 8-15-1 ATS in their last 24 home games.

Note:  Many of the points above were taken from CNOTES53's excellent work at MadJackSports.

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