LAS VEGAS -- The NFL's 2017 regular-season schedule was released Thursday night and most people spent a lot of time going over each team's slate and figuring out how many games they would win.
But here at ESPN Chalk, we were more interested in the first betting numbers to come out of the schedule release, which were the Week 1 lines from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook around 5:20 p.m. PT followed by the South Point at 5:45 p.m. PT and the Golden Nugget at 5:54 p.m. PT.
Now, a lot of people think it's way too early to be betting games in the fall, fearing the unknown of injuries and suspensions (and we haven't even had the draft yet), but we believe there's value to be found in going through the opening lines.
Last year, I made five best bets in this column (Tampa Bay +3.5 vs. Atlanta, Oakland +1 vs. New Orleans, San Diego +7.5 vs. Kansas City, NY Giants +4 vs. Dallas and Pittsburgh -3 vs. Washington) and went 5-0 ATS. Including a few other games labeled as leans, I was 7-1 ATS overall with the only loss on the L.A. Rams -2.5 vs. San Francisco.
While the obvious goal is to pick the winner of the games you're looking to bet, it's just as important to project which way the line is likely to move by opening weekend and to be on the right side of that move. It's a great feeling to have a ticket in your possession when a line has moved several points (or across the key numbers of 3 or 7) and deciding if you're going to let it ride because you have the best of it, or shooting for a middle. I didn't do as well in that regard last season as I was 5-3 in the line moves on those 8 games where I had a best bet or a lean, but that's the goal.
So, let's look at the Week 1 lines from the Westgate (I'll be leaning heavily on our most recent NFL Vegas Power Ratings after the majority of free-agent signings) and see where we can find value with best bets marked with an asterisk(*):