- A total of 18 teams are playing in divisional matchups occurring during Week 1 of the NFL season.
- The AFC South favored Indianapolis Colts start the season with a divisional road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- The second-favored Tennessee Titans avoid a Week 1 divisional matchup after the coronavirus offseason.
INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL’s first week of action is set to start the week of September 13 and features nine divisional matchups.
With the current quarantine limitations, these early games could be heavily affected by the pandemic, which could have ripples on the divisional races later in the season.
Teams are still figuring out how to prepare for the eventual start of the season. Besides the physical work required to stay in NFL shape, the intricacies of the game of football from learning playbooks, to teaching rookies, and new coaching implementations take much effort, but more importantly, time.
It is easy for any close follower to understand how much work goes into the product on Sundays every other single day of the year.
The current NFL schedule has teams running virtual mini-camps as the teams prepare for the ideal return to training camp in late July.
This means there will be no organized off-season workouts, no rookie minicamps, and no organized team activities in that period.
Even if the quarantine was lifted and the disease completely eradicated by the proposed start of the NFL season, it is unreasonable to assume that the quality of football being presented would be anywhere close to what the world is accustomed to seeing.
The Effect On Divisional Betting Odds
The first week of the NFL season features nine divisional matchups. That’s 18 of the 32 teams playing in games that have a major impact on their playoff hopes and Super Bowl aspirations.
Just last year, the AFC South and NFC East were both decided by one single win. While the Tennessee Titans were able to secure a wildcard spot, ask Dallas Cowboy fans how they feel about missing the playoffs under such a narrow margin.
Teams will be so vastly unprepared and unorganized at the beginning of this season compared to any season in the past, that all 18 of these teams in divisional matchups are at a distinct disadvantage to those who are not. This creates a further issue when you factor in the possibility of fans not being allowed at games to start the season.
Suddenly, homefield advantage is gone in the early matchups of the season.
This has major implications for NFL futures bettors who might want to reconsider some of their early picks after the release of the schedule.
Some of the closest preseason divisional favorites include the Indianapolis Colts out of the AFC South:
Odds To Win The AFC South
- Indianapolis Colts +135
- Tennessee Titans +135
- Houston Texans +300
- Jacksonville Jaguars +2000
In Week 1 this year, the division-favored Colts take on the Jaguars in one of those divisional matchups. Meanwhile, the two other AFC South teams fighting to win the title, the Titans and Texans, play cross-divisional matchups.
In this situation, if both the Colts and the Titans – the second favored AFC South team – take Week 1 losses due to whatever circumstance, the Colts are in a significantly worse spot by already suffering a loss to a divisional foe.
Though there are many NFL tiebreaker rules for the playoffs and seeding, the divisional record sits among the top.
The NFL is rapidly making changes to alleviate this problem and try to bring football back to the world at whatever capacity is possible.
Until then, all sports bettors can do is wait for the legal sportsbooks to drastically change their lines and speculate at the uncertain future.
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Jimmy began his journalistic journey as a stat recorder and PA announcer for his middle school baseball team. Full of experience across print, broadcast, and sports radio, he brings his knowledge and toolkit to the LegalSportsBetting team. You can find him watching sports, making parlays, and listening to music on any day ending in Y.