Flip the NFL betting calendar and start circling dates.
September visits May, as the NFL released its 2021 expanded schedule, prompting raised antennas in New Jersey online sports betting circles.
There is one additional game this year, actual Week 1 spreads for New Jersey online sports bettors paired with some early intrigue.
The NFL regular season begins Sept. 9, with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a 6.5-point dog. And then it’s season on.
The Philadelphia Eagles are more than a field-goal underdog at the host Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 12. The Jalen Hurts-DeVonta Smith connection begins.
The New York Giants host the Denver Broncos as a small favorite. Wouldn’t it be something if Aaron Rodgers was a Bronco? Watch that line move.
The New York Jets visit the Carolina Panthers as a solid dog. Nah, too good to be true. Sam Darnold was the Jets’ future two years ago. Now at 23, he’s their ex. And he’s facing his old team, as chalk.
How about season win totals, team futures, and wacky props?
Get those bets in fast. We’ve only got … four months.
In honor of seven points for a touchdown and extra point, here are seven wagering observations.
1. Key games for Philadelphia Eagles
In the opener, they oppose Philly native Kyle Pitts, a game-changing tight end drafted by the Falcons.
For their home opener on Sept. 19, will Trey Lance be leading the Niners? Lance versus Hurts and Smith is a matchup of young guns.
The first meeting against the Cowboys in Dallas on Sept. 27 is on Monday Night Football.
The October 24 game in Las Vegas is an excuse for a trip.
The Eagles don’t play the Giants until late in the season, at New York Nov. 28 and home Dec. 26.
The extra game this year? At the Jets Dec. 5. That’s one edge for finishing in the basement. Division champion Washington gets the Buffalo Bills.
The Birds bye week is Week 14. The home finale against the Cowboys is Jan. 9.
2. Decisive December for the Birds
Starting in December, the Birds play the Jets and then four division rivals to finish the campaign:
- Washington, home, TBD
- Giants, home, Dec. 26
- Washington, away, Jan. 2
- Cowboys, home, Jan. 9
What about NFC East betting odds?
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Cowboys +125 to win the division.
Washington, the defending champion, is +260
The Giants are +350 while the Eagles are +500.
The odds already moved with money on the Cowboys and Giants and will be fun to play throughout the season.
The Giants went from +2000 after an 0-5 start to +200 when they led the division. This is the biggest sudden-opportunity team bet on the board throughout the year.
Every game impacts the total. You can make several bets on it at different times.
3. Start handicapping the NFC East
Doesn’t matter if it’s the NFC Least, which produced a 7-9 winner with the Washington Football Team. Or if it was the NFC Beast in a strong year.
One of these teams will host a playoff game. Washington had the home field against the eventual champion Bucs last year.
What record will host this year’s playoff game?
DraftKings has the Eagles’ over-under at 6.5 games. A small rise expected from the 4-11-1 campaign. The over is -155.
Washington has an over-under of 8, still a losing record, with the over at -134.
The Giants are at 7 with the over at -130.
Only one team is projected for a winning season. The Cowboys are at 9.5 but with a heavily favored under, -130. Count on the Cowboys being overbet, propping up odds of other teams.
“Look at the NFC East, what an extra week might have meant last year, the way it all came down to the wire,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites.
Avello linked Dallas’ favored status in the NFC East to the return of quarterback Dak Prescott, who was injured most of last year.
“They would look to be the team at the start,” he said. “Washington certainly played better last year and Chase Young helped them defensively.
“The Giants are going to get Saquon Barkley back, that’s going to be a big boost to them.
“The Eagles? With Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen with them.”
4. 2021 NFL schedule includes bonus week
Seventeen games means one less preseason week, one more real week, and the Super Bowl on Feb. 13.
Bettors and books rejoice.
“There’s going to be a significant impact on the betting,” Avello said.
“During the exhibition season, we have lower limits. During the regular season, you’ll see players wagering six figures a game. There wasn’t even a preseason last year anyway. There’s no comparison about what that means for the handle.
“This extra week, I think, will make everybody happy.”
5. Wanna go AGAINST the Eagles or Jets?
It’s like playing the Don’t Come line at craps. Here’s a worst-season record prop at FanDuel Sportsbook:
- Houston Texans +250
- Detroit Lions +350
- New York Jets +850
- Cincinnati Bengals +1000
- Jacksonville Jaguars +1200
- Philadelphia Eagles +1300
This is when losing big means winning.
6. Will any NFL team go 0-17 or 17-0?
BetMGM posted the first bet for a team to go 0-17 under the new schedule. Yes is +1400.
On the flip side, the odds for a team to go 17-0 is +1800.
7. The power of the NFL No 1 pick
The Jacksonville Jaguars won one game last year. They ride a 15-game losing streak.
In Week 1, They visit the Houston Texans, who were in the AFC semifinals two years ago.
And they are favored.
It means Trevor Lawrence has an immediate impact and that Deshaun Watson is expected to move.
“The game we had the most discussion setting the line for was Jaguars-Texans,” said Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for William Hill. “We don’t know whether Deshaun Watson is going to be the quarterback. For now, he’s the guy until news breaks that says otherwise. I’d say that one was the most difficult [Week 1 spread].”
AP Photo/Chris Szagola