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NFL Betting: The Pressure’s On

Ex-Ravens coach Brian Billick has stated many times that in his opinion, one of the hardest things for any team to do is win its opener away from home against a familiar division foe.

In 2010, Week 1 of the NFL season featured seven divisional matchups and oddly enough, the road team was favored in all but one.

Sportsbooks are assigned a difficult task in the first week, predicting where the public sentiment will fall but in games like San Francisco (-3) at Seattle and Dallas (-3.5) at Washington, the books were left with no choice but to favor the road team.

By now we are all aware how things went for the 49ers and Cowboys, and you can add Indianapolis (-2) and San Diego (-4.5) to the list of Week 1 divisional road team upsets as well.

But where is the next step for these clubs?

All four were favored to win their division when the season began and still lists the Colts (-175), Chargers (-275), Cowboys (+150) and Niners (even) as the odds-on pick to take the title.

The schedule sees all four teams at home for Week 2 and three-of-four are favored once again, two (Dallas, San Diego) by more than a touchdown.

Bettors will be tempted by these home favorites to make a correction and get back to .500 pronto. After all, Indianapolis didn’t lose its second game last year until Week 17!

San Diego are notoriously slow starters under Norv Turner, however, going 2-3 straight-up (SU) in `09 and 1-4 against the spread (ATS) before ripping off 11-straight victories. And Dallas, possibly without the services of leading sack specialist DeMarcus Ware, could be in for a shootout when Mike Martz and the Bears come to town.

While winning these games SU is a strong possibility, coaches are not concerned with covering inflated pointspreads. And who knows, maybe all the preseason hype for these teams, especially Dallas with their chances of becoming the first team  to host and play in the Super Bowl, is more style than it is substance.

0-2 TO WHAT?
16 teams went back to the drawing board this week trying to figure out what went wrong in Week 1. While some will nail down that elusive first victory Sunday, others will start feeling the collar snug-up and the coach’s bench get just a little bit warmer.

– Of last year’s 12 playoff participants not one team started the season 0-2 straight-up.

– Five started with a 2-0 SU record and the other seven began the regular season at 1-1 SU

Of the two teams that lost straight-up in Week 1, results for their next game were identical. Cincinnati and Arizona both went on the road as inter-Conference underdogs, winnings SU/ATS and sailing “Over” the posted total.

No identical setups this year for leading playoff candidates but you may want to look at little closer at these two matchups:

Philadelphia (-4) at Detroit: The Eagles were upended by a strong Packers team at Lincoln Financial Field but looked good after Michael Vick took over. Away from the distractions of home, the Eagles match up very well with the Lions.

Miami at Minnesota (-5.5): Of all teams that lost in Week 1, the Vikings were in perhaps the toughest situation – missing starters and playing with a veteran QB who had missed most of preseason. At home against a team that has accomplished one road win already, the Vikings offense should be running much smoother and they have also had an extra three days to prepare.

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