Put a reminder in your 2022 calendar now: Don't overreact to the worst teams we saw in Week 1.
We hear it every year, but it's hard. We see teams absolutely face plant in the opener and don't want any part of them a week later. But among the teams that we thought would be good in 2021 but were awful in Week 1, here were the results in the second week:
Tennessee Titans: Lost 38-13 to Arizona in Week 1; upset the Seahawks in Seattle Week 2 as 6-point underdogs.
Baltimore Ravens: Lost in overtime to Las Vegas in Week 1; upset the Chiefs as 3.5-point underdogs in Week 2.
Green Bay Packers: Lost 38-3 to the Saints Week 1; beat the Lions 35-17 and covered an 11.5-point spread in Week 2.
Atlanta Falcons: Lost 32-6 in Week 1 to the Eagles; lost and didn't cover against the Buccaneers in Week 2.
Buffalo Bills: Lost 23-16 at home to Pittsburgh in Week 1; beat the Dolphins 35-0 in Week 2 and easily covered as 3.5-point favorites.
Indianapolis Colts: Lost 28-16 in Week 1 to Seattle; lost 27-24 to the Rams in Week 2 but covered the 4-point spread.
That's 5-1 against the spread (5-0 if you didn't think much of the Falcons before the season and stuck with it), with a couple of nice underdog moneyline winners too. It's a lesson — one that doesn't necessarily apply to just Week 1 — that usually NFL teams aren't as bad as they look on their worst weeks. There are extenuating circumstances, like injuries or being coached by Urban Meyer. But typically, recency bias in the NFL will lead to a lot of bad bets. It would have been costly in Week 2 if you didn't remember to not overreact to bad Week 1 teams.
Also don't overreact to the good teams of Week 1
Think of some teams that surprised us in Week 1: the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders. Other than the Raiders (we'll get to them in a second) and Texans, none of those teams covered in Week 2.
Some unexpected things we see in Week 1 will stick all season. A few teams are trying to let us know they're either way better or way worse than we projected. But mostly, there are bets to be won by just hanging on to our preseason expectations, at least for a second week.
The Raiders might be good?
This isn't the NCAA tournament selection committee, but the Raiders have two quality wins that will hold up well all season. The Ravens and Steelers are 0-2 against the Raiders. In their other games, they beat the Chiefs and Bills, respectively.
As stated before, there are some things we can glean from this two-game sample size. The NFL is set up to surprise us every season. Figuring out early on which teams are well off preseason expectations is a key to winning bets in September. The Raiders have started well the past two seasons under Jon Gruden and while we'll have to be wary about how they finish, that's a worry for down the road.
Home field might be gone forever
The records for home teams so far this season, via Covers.com: 16-16 straight up, 13-19 against the spread. It made sense to expect a rebound in home-field advantage with fans back in the stands, but it hasn't happened. Home favorites are a ridiculous 5-13 against the spread.
It's hard to trust a two-week sample size, but it follows a trend. Even before the strange 2020 season without fans, home field was becoming less important. However many points you assign for home-field advantage in 2021, it might be time to take that number down a bit.