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Betting Against the Spread Week 1

Indianapolis Colts vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Every year, I ask to write about fantasy football and gambling here as part of my duties on the staff here at Stampede Blue. I haven’t always gotten to write about these things, but they’ve been a huge part of my life for about 15 years now. Allegedly, I actually started betting on football in 7th grade and had this whole story about allegedly and illegally gambling as an underage, teenage outsider in metro Indianapolis in the late 1990s and that means I’ve got 25 years of experience (most of it illegal and/or highly questionable), but anyway...

Gambling is a highly addictive habit and for the most part, the good word is to avoid betting or gambling on sports of any kind so that you can actually sit and enjoy this game we all love. Here, we bet on sports despite the good word and just hope to hit one time before we crap out. Last year, though, we hit on Week 1 and didn’t really make much noise outside of that, so this year we want to continue the trend of betting against the spread.

In 2020, Miami, Buffalo, Baltimore, Green Bay, Tampa Bay each covered the spread 60+% of the time. Some people will tell you that quarterback play dictates this, others will point to coaching and special teams play. There’s no formula and Vegas didn’t become Vegas because gambling is easy, baby. When we look to bet against the spread, we are limited on our options (you’re looking generally for a spread 4 points or greater). They say “don’t leave it up to your kicker” and frequently do despite that very specific warning. Keep this in mind when you’re looking at the lines or at the picture of Colts K Rodrigo Blankenship.

Some trends we saw last year were that home field advantage didn’t mean as much because these stadiums feel like you’re playing in an abandoned mine when they’re empty (trust me, I played a full season and playoffs in a flag football league in an empty-except-for-us Lucas Oil Stadium back in the day). When I say “as much”, there was about a 10% difference in win-rate between last year and years prior (if memory serves me correctly, the home field win rate was above 60% in 2019 and prior Last year, the home team won just above 50% of the games.) I expect stadiums full of people and a big increase in home field advantage. This could be relevant and I want to believe that the crowd is a factor. It used to be.

Let’s get to the games!

All lines are from MGM.


Right off the bat, I’m looking at this Thursday night game with Dallas on the road in Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay will fill that place up and it will be loud. Dallas probably won’t win on the road (they’re a 7.5 point underdog), but I would absolutely take them +7.5 on opening night.

That’s right. Tampa Bay is -7.5 at home and yes, they were one of the best teams to cover the spread in 2020, yes this is Dak Prescott’s first game back and yes Tampa is the defending champion. I’m just hoping for a close game and I think this is more of a field goal game. Take Dallas +7.5 all day!


Right away I see that Pittsburgh is a 6.5-point underdog on the road against the Bills and I say to myself “I will take that bet every day of the week”. Give me Pittsburgh +6.5 and dear Lord baby JuJu keep it close, amirite?

Then I see the Jets are a 5-point dog down in Carolina and think “wait a minute is this Darnold vs. the guy that replaced Darnold” and I want that action. Give me the Jets and their rookie QB keeping it close with the Panthers +5.

The next appetizing scenario is the Browns as a 6-point road dog to the Chiefs. I’m not at all suggesting that any of these teams win. All I’m saying is that on paper, the Browns have the quality of players to keep up with the Chiefs. Do they have the preparation to beat the Chiefs? Give me the mighty Browns +6 and let’s find out.

This last bet against the spread feels like a gimme. Miami always beats New England at least one time a year. At least that’s how I remember it. Anyway, Miami is a 3-point underdog on the road in New England and I just have this feeling. Gimme Miami +3!

I put these five bets into a parlay on BetMGM and $100 would win $2,483.40!

There you have it.

Now, in addition to giving you a nice five-team parlay each week, I’ve also got some bonus content for you.

This week, I like the Ravens -4 on the road against the Raiders on Monday Night Football.

I also like the Rams -7.5 at home against the Bears.

Give me the Packers -4 on the road against the Saints.

I’ll take the Jags -3 on the road against the Texans.

Lastly, I’ll take the Chargers -1 on the road against the WFT on name and uniforms alone.

I put these five games in a parlay and $100 wins $2,593.41!

So there you are! There’s five solid bets against the spread and five with the spread!

Who you got?

Colts win by a nose hair, by the way. That’s right. They’re a 2.5 point underdog at home. Just saying take the Colts +2.5. There! There’s six games against the spread!

Football is back, baby!

Only 7 people signed up for fantasy football. Hit me up if you want to get in a league. I could draft tomorrow through the end of the week if we get a group of at least 8 team owners.