NFL’s Week 1 Odds Impacted by Coronavirus

The start of the 2020 NFL season is currently scheduled for Sep. 10th, when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Field.

The NFL odds for all 16 Week 1 games are already posted and one fact that seems clear is that oddsmakers are anticipating empty stadiums. The point spreads for most home teams are discounted, as sportsbooks subtract some or all of the home-field advantage that noisy stadiums otherwise provide.

The point spreads in a few games stand out. The LA Chargers, a team that will be starting either newcomer Tyrod Taylor or rookie Justin Herbert at quarterback, is laying a full field goal on the road at Cincinnati.

While the Bengals will be starting their own rookie at QB – #1 pick Joe Burrow – they will also be welcoming back AJ Green plus getting their first action out of their 2019 first-round pick, OT Jonah Williams.

Out west, the LA Rams – a team that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl just two years ago – is a 2.5-point home underdog to the Dallas Cowboys. Historically, home-field advantage is worth three points when it comes to the point spread. The LA teams have never had the strongest home-field edge, but even if it’s adjusted to just two points for games in the City of Angels, a +2.5 spread on the Rams at home means oddsmakers would be setting LA at +7.5 or +8 if the game was in Dallas. It’s hard to see the Rams getting more than a touchdown in Big D.

Other games appear to be giving the full three for home field, but upon a closer inspection, likely aren’t. In Minnesota, the Vikings (who were 10-6 last year) and laying three points at home to the division-rival Green Bay Packers (who went 13-3 and won the NFC North). But the 2019 Packers were extremely lucky to go 13-3. The Vikings actually finished with a much better point differential (+104 vs +63) and rated considerably better in efficiency (ranking 7th in DVOA at +15.3% compared to 10th at 7.7% for the Packers).  If this game was at a neutral site, the Vikings would probably still be favored by a point or two.

Of course, at this point in time, most NFL fans wouldn’t care if all 256 regular-season games take place in London, as long as they actually do take place … and are on TV.

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