NFL Opening Lines: Week 1 Point Spreads Feature Big Underdogs

OddsShark.comFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

August 24, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Fans and players love to talk about NFL parity, but if there is so much parity, why are there so many huge point spreads in Week 1?

There are more significant spreads this week than in any other year in the past two decades. Significant spreads are defined by Jack Randall of as home spreads of 10 or more and road spreads of a touchdown or more.

And in one case, the line has been bet from -6.5 all the way to -13.5 at Miami was -6.5 a week ago and now sits as a 11.5-point road dog at Houston at most Vegas shops.

“Maybe it’s just the matchups or maybe the league is full of hooey when it comes to its parity claims,” Randall, a football analyst, said in an interview Tuesday. “There are four games that meet the criteria and two more met it before betting on the underdogs moved the spreads lower.”

Cleveland and Tennessee are the two big home underdogs. The Browns are currently +9 against the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Titans are +8 at home to the Patriots, a team that beat them 59-0 three years ago. This marks the fifth time in eight years that the Pats opened the season in this ‘significant spread’ category and they failed three times at home, before covering on the road.

Cleveland, meanwhile, was a double-digit home dog twice before (1999 and 2000) and was blown out each time.

Among the home favorites, the aforementioned Texans are huge chalk against a Dolphins team that is 0-6 lifetime against Houston. But the Fins are a dangerous double-digit dog, according to’s Miami-Houston matchup report.

“Miami is 13-3 ATS in that role,” said Randall. “But Houston has also thrived as a big favorite, going 5-1 ATS.”

New Orleans had been a 10-point favorite against the Redskins, but it sat at -8 late Tuesday. The Lions were also favored by 10 at home to the Rams but that had been bet down to -7.5.

Current Week 1 NFL Spreads, courtesy of

Wed - Dallas at N.Y. Giants (-4) (8:30pm ET)
Sun - Philadelphia at Cleveland (+9) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Washington at New Orleans (-10) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Atlanta at Kansas City (+1) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - St. Louis at Detroit (-9) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Indianapolis at Chicago (-11) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Jacksonville at Minnesota (-4.5) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - New England at Tennessee (+7) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Miami at Houston (-12) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (-2.5) (1:00pm ET)
Sun - Seattle at Arizona (+1.5) (4:25pm ET)
Sun - Carolina at Tampa Bay (+1) (4:25pm ET)
Sun - San Francisco at Green Bay (-5) (4:25pm ET)
Sun - Pittsburgh at Denver (pick) (8:20pm ET)
Mon - Cincinnati at Baltimore (-6) (7:00pm ET)
Mon - San Diego at Oakland (pick) (10:15pm ET)