Every sports bettor knows that parlays aren't a smart investment. They have a negative expected value. You'd be better off betting each game separately. Hitting a parlay is hard. Someone always messes it up. If i had a nickel for every time I've hit four-of-five on a five team parlay, I'd be rich.
However, like other vices in life such as unhealthy food or alcohol, it's hard for most to resist. All week, I'll tell myself "no parlays!" Right before kickoff, I send in a moneyline parlay with a bunch of favorites thinking "there's no way this loses." By the end of the night, I regret my decision. The cycle repeats next weekend.
In Week 1, we have eight teams with moneyline prices of -200 or higher. I'm not saying to avoid them completely, but I'll play devil's advocate and poke holes in each of them. It'll give you something to think about before you press "confirm" on that six-team parlay that will almost surely end up a loser.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-400) vs. Dallas Cowboys
The defending Super Bowl champions are the steepest favorites on the board at -400. It took some longer than others, but by now, most have learned their lesson: don't bet against Tom Brady.
Speaking of Tom Brady, the guy is now 44. He's going to fall off a cliff eventually and nobody will see it coming. I'm not saying it'll happen this year, but wouldn't it be terrible if Brady started to play like a 44-year-old and it cost you your Week 1 parlay?
Also, the Cowboys can score. In the five games that Dak Prescott started last season, the Cowboys averaged nearly 33 points per game. With a total of 51.5, this game might be a shootout and it could come down to which quarterback has the ball last.
Buffalo Bills (-275) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
People are high on the Bills and low on the Steelers. For that reason, the Bills are -275 home favorites against the black and yellow.
Pittsburgh lost five of their final six games of last season, but some are quick to forget how they started the season. The Steelers won their first 11 games. Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record. Ben Roethlisberger will be in the Hall of Fame. Let's not write them off too quickly.
Also, are we just supposed to fully buy that this new Josh Allen is here to stay? The Bills' quarterback was the butt of a lot of jokes his first two years in the league. He took a tremendous step in his third season, arguably the biggest jump we've ever seen a quarterback take. I'm not saying that Allen will turn back into a pumpkin, but I'm not fitting him for a gold jacket just yet either.
San Francisco 49ers (-350) vs. Detroit Lions
The second biggest favorite on the board is the San Francisco 49ers, who sit at -350 on the road in Detroit.
First off, I'd be weary of ever throwing a road favorite into a parlay. It's the home opener for Detroit and this isn't sunny California. Home field advantage might make a comeback after the pandemic. People are ready to go nuts.
I'm not going to wax poetic about the Lions here as I believe they'll be competing for the first overall pick. Matt Stafford was always a worry when betting against them in the past, but Jared Goff does not instill similar fear.
However, let's not forget that the 49ers opened last season as a touchdown favorite over the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona won that game straight up on the field. Fool me once San Francisco.
Also, can we slow our roll on the 49ers a little bit? Under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers have gone 6-10, 4-12, 13-3 and 6-10. I know they dealt with key injuries last season, but why is everyone so quick to believe the 2019 team that went 13-3 team is the real version of the 49ers?
Carolina Panthers (-200) vs. New York Jets
Sam Darnold a -200 favorite? Avoid.
This line has come crashing down, with the Jets going from being six-point underdogs to now currently getting just four points on the road in Carolina. I must say, I agree with the line movement.
Zach Wilson will be a rookie quarterback making his first start on the road, which usually isn't a recipe for success. However, as someone who lives in the New York area, I have watched firsthand the development (or lack thereof) of Sam Darnold. Nothing I have seen tells me that he should be a -200 favorite as the starting quarterback of an NFL team.
Kansas City Chiefs (-275) vs. Cleveland Browns
Patrick Mahomes at -275 with something to prove after his poor performance in the Super Bowl? Tempting.
However, Super Bowl losers do not fare well in Week 1 of the following season. Over the past 17 seasons, they've gone 8-13 straight up and just 4-17 against the spread in Week 1.
Also, the Cleveland Browns are good. Usually, you're picking on bad teams when you bet big moneyline favorites. That's not the case here.
The Browns went 11-5 last season, won a playoff game and gave the Chiefs a scare in the divisional round of last year's playoffs. They've improved their defense significantly over the offseason and quarterback Baker Mayfield took significant strides as last season went on in Kevin Stefanski's system.
Green Bay Packers (-200) vs. New Orleans Saints
Green Bay is a -200 favorite over the New Orleans Saints as the game will be played at a neutral site in Jacksonville.
It'll be the first game of the post-Drew Brees era in New Orleans as Jameis Winston takes over under center. Many consider this a downgrade, but was Drew Brees even an elite quarterback in his final season with the Saints? He seemed limited by his lack of arm strength. Winston might actually open up more of a downfield passing attack for New Orleans. We know the Saints still have a great coach and a great defense.
Green Bay dealt with a lot of drama this past offseason when it comes to the Aaron Rodgers situation. Could there be any lasting effects of that? We're just going to pretend like everything is alright in Green Bay?
Los Angeles Rams (-350) vs. Chicago Bears
Expectations are high for the Rams, as they improved their biggest weakness: the quarterback position. They open as -350 favorites at home against the Bears.
The Chicago Bears made the playoffs last season, and I think they upgraded their quarterback position, maybe? Is Andy Dalton better than Mitch Trubisky? Obviously, I'd be much higher on the Bears if Justin Fields was starting, but this is still a team that survived poor quarterback play last season.
Remember when the Rams lost to the Jets last season? That was fun. If you lose to an Adam Gase and Sam Darnold led 0-13 Jets team, we're gonna have trust issues.
Baltimore Ravens (-200) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
The Baltimore Ravens will be the first NFL team to experience fans in Las Vegas during a regular season game. It should be a fun atmosphere on "Monday Night Football," with the Ravens listed as -200 favorites.
Back when the Raiders were in Oakland, it seemed like they always gave teams problems when they were a home underdog. Also, this Raiders team has shown flashes in the past. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road last season. Derek Carr is sneaky underrated and Darren Waller is a monster.
Baltimore's been bit by the injury bug on offense. They'll be without J.K. Dobbins and Rashod Bateman for this game. Marquise Brown should be good to go, but he's been battling an injury throughout training camp.
Which of these favorites am I most confident in? Which ones would I avoid at all costs? This list goes from most confident to least.
1. San Francisco
2. LA Rams
3. Tampa Bay
6. Kansas City
7. Green Bay