Week 1 kicked off Thursday night with the Chiefs defeating the Houston Texans 34-20. It marked the first time ever the NFL started a season without having preseason games. The game was surprisingly well played. The Chiefs know who they are, and showed it. The Texans were rather conservative while Deshaun Watson’s ability was showcased despite his lack of preseason warmup. We can’t expect that level of play throughout the league. Many teams have new identities, new players, new coaches and have had little time to work out expected wrinkles. Here is what you should expect to seen Week 1 in the NFL.
Lots of Penalties
Last night’s game aside, you expect snap counts to be botched, and tired players doing a lot of holding. The lack of crowd noise may work in the NFL’s favor. It might allow players on both sides of the ball to stay more in-sync. Could this balance out the penalties? Perhaps, but expect fatigue to play a big roll.
Sloppy Offense Early On
The first half Thursday night was rather low scoring given the talent on each offensive roster. This was no accident. Teams were feeling out things early on. They called more conservative plays while trying to find a rhythm. If you’re a bettor, 1st half unders might work for you this weekend.
High Scoring Second Halves
Defenses are going to be exhausted, especially at the game’s end. Thursday night we saw 23 of 30 second half points scored in the 4th quarter. Teams might take a little time to get into rhythm, but the lessons of the game coupled with tired defenses in the second half should provide a lot of high scoring moments, late. To the last point, bet second half overs this weekend.
Injuries are always an issue early in the season. That will be heightened this year by no preseason and a lack of game conditioning. We saw 6 injuries in the opening game, which to be fair, was probably light. The hope is that no severe injuries will result from the lack of preseason play. Although, this is the NFL we are talking about.
Various Protest Methods
Protests were handled differently by both teams last night, but in each case, there was none of the steam we saw last year. The Texans as a team opted to skip the national anthem. The Chiefs had all but a handful of players standing the entire time. Each team had surely discussed how they would to handle it. We expect the result to differ around the league as it did last night.
Lack Of Home Field Advantage
As with all sports in 2020, home field advantage is basically dead. A handful of teams will permit fans this year, but for the most part, stadiums will be limited to crowd noise pumped in over the PA system. This is a huge advantage for visiting teams, which are normally entering more hostile environments. Look to exploit this as a bettor before the oddsmakers readjust lines.