The biggest dilemma for bettors heading into the NFL's first week was figuring out how to handle a board filled with heavy road favorites. Teaser and moneyline parlay options were popular ways to avoid the road chalk, but those brave enough to back the big dogs reaped the rewards. Yesterday, six of the seven teams that covered as underdogs were catching 5.5 points or more, and three of those teams hit for moneyline bettors as well. So the gambling gods did us a solid by laying out the blueprint, but is Seattle a dog really worth backing for Monday Night Football?
The short answer is ... yes. It's a game I have pivoted on myself, so I can understand if you don't have the stomach to put your hard-earned money on Pete Carroll's new offense in Seattle. I also put together three other ways to bet on the Broncos and avoid laying the road chalk that has already poisoned many Week 1 betting cards.
This bet isn't as much a play on Seattle as it is a fade on Denver. While I view them as a playoff team in a stacked AFC, I have been below market on the Broncos for a few reasons, starting with the unknowns of a first-time head coach in Nathaniel Hackett. It's a big transition from being an offensive coordinator to being responsible for the entire football roster. It's no longer just about X's and O's.
Historically, rookie head coaches have not done well against the spread in their first road game, and tonight has so many additional distractions. First, it's Russell Wilson's return to Seattle on Monday Night Football. Pete Carroll has been riling up the fans all week, and it will be an emotionally charged atmosphere. In a loud environment, we could see communication issues with Wilson and Hackett never previously working together. It wouldn't surprise me if Denver looked a little clunky early before things settled down.
If the Broncos' offense sputters early, that will keep the door open for Seattle to run to the football. I can see Carroll chewing up the clock on a Denver defense that fell to 27th in rushing success rate allowed last season. They could be more stout under Ejiro Evero, but in their first game transitioning into a new system, it's unlikely they put their best foot forward. This game happening in the season opener favors the underdog, and I think Seattle can get downhill, limit possessions and stay within the number.
Broncos win and Russell Wilson to throw +225 passing yards (+100)
If you are backing the Broncos but don't want to lay the big number on the road, here is a bet at even money. Russell Wilson averaged 222.4 passing yards last season, but that was the first time since 2018 that he failed to reach an average of 225. Keep in mind, he was banged up a few games despite how he defied the odds with such a quick return from injury. Wilson eclipsed 225 yards passing in 57% of his starts. When you factor in opposition and motivation, it makes sense for him to hit this number. Sharp Football ranked Seattle's secondary 25th this upcoming season, after a discouraging 2021 where they finished 28th in dropback success rate (50.9) and 27th in opponent completion percentage allowed.
Broncos moneyline and Over 34.5 (-135)
If you are concerned about Pete Carroll playing keep away from the Broncos offense, Wilson doesn't even have to go off for this bet to hit. A 21-14 Denver win is enough to make this wager a winner. The Seahawks averaged just under 20 points a game in Geno Smith's four starts last season, and only one had a combined score of fewer than 35 points. Over the past three seasons, NFL games have surpassed 34.5 total points at a 76.4% rate. Although to be fair, five games fell under 35 yesterday. So how much stock you put into continuity being a factor in the first week will go a long way in determining if this is the best way for you to bet the game.