Early Predictions for Week 1 of the NFL
The NFL schedule came out on Thursday night and after taking a look at some of the other projections including top NFL Prime Time and non-prime time games, it's time to look at the betting lines for Week 1.
There are now plenty of things to bet on including prop bets for the season, including over/unders for wins. Betting on Week 1 is a bit of a risk, because you don't about injuries in preseason and training camp. We really don't know if the season will start on time due to COVID-19. But the NFL is all about moving on while following safety guidelines.
Let's take a look at the first 16 games of the regular season, starting with Houston against Kansas City on Sept. 10 through the two Monday night games on Sept. 14. (lines from William Hill)
(home team in caps)
KANSAS CITY (-10/56) vs. Houston
As good as Kansas City is, this isn't the greatest spot for a team to be in. Right after winning a Super Bowl and not getting the typical amount of practice time over the summer. The Chiefs didn't win with defense and they could be without cornerback Beshaun Breeland due to off-the-field issues (possible suspension). The Chiefs did smoke the Texans in the playoffs 51-31. Houston blew a 24-0 lead in that game from Arrowhead. So scoring on the Chiefs wasn't a problem. The Chiefs will still celebrating the Super Bowl victory. Take Houston and the Over.
Sunday, Sept. 13
NEW ENGLAND (-5.5/43.5) vs. Miami
This is a tough one to pick right now because nobody really knows who the quarterbacks will be for either team. Without Brady, barring a last-second trade, the Pats are going with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback. That means more relying on the run and on defense. Miami may end up starting Ryan Fitzpatrick again so in this case, the best pick may be the under. I can see the Patriots starting slow without their usual preparation. Take the Dolphins and a stronger pick on the Under 43.5.
BALTIMORE (-9/48.5) vs. Cleveland
This is kind of a revenge game because the Browns beat the heck out of the Ravens in Baltimore last season 40-25. The Ravens got revenge later in the season with a 31-15 win on Dec. 22 from Cleveland. They just ran all over them led by Nick Chubb's 165 yards and Baker Mayfield threw for 342 yards. That was in late September and Baltimore went crazy after that, winning 12 straight. The Ravens improved their run defense in the offseason, but laying over a touchdown against a talented Browns team? Take Cleveland +9 and the Over 48.5
BUFFALO (-5.5/40) vs. NY Jets
An early AFC East matchup. There are a lot of expectations for Buffalo, but let's not throw out the Jets. They would have been a much better team had Sam Darnold suffered from mono last season. They still managed to go 7-9 due to a strong defense. These two teams split, though the Jets beat the Bills in the finale when most of the key starters played sparingly or sat for Buffalo. In the first game, the Bills won on the road 17-16. The Jets improved their offensive line in the offseason. Expect a similar score to the first game. Take the Jets and the Under.
CAROLINA (-1/46) vs. Las Vegas
The Panthers will play their first game with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and Matt Rhule as the head coach. They also will no longer have Luke Kuechly roaming the defense. That defense was awful last season and will take more than one game to improve that side of the ball. The Raiders will be traveling across the country, which they are used to doing. They added burner Henry Ruggs and two other receivers. The Panthers are basically rebuilding. Take the Raiders and the Over.
Seattle (-1/48.5) vs. ATLANTA
Seattle beat Atlanta on the road last season 27-20 on Oct. 27. They nearly blew a 24-0 lead and just held on (failed to cover the 7.5). Matt Schaub threw for 460 yards in that game as the Seahawks relaxed after the big lead. Seattle is still a contender in the NFC West and the Falcons are explosive but wanting on defense. Take the Seahawks to cover on the road and a smaller play on the Under 48.5.
Philadelphia (-5.5/45) vs. WASHINGTON
Philadelphia won by 10 on the road on Dec. 15 and by five at home in the 2019 opener. Washington is in rebuilding mode and will likely go with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, unless Kyle Allen beats him out. Neither option is too appetizing. The Skins should be better on defense with the addition of Chase Young. He'll be getting after Carson Wentz a lot, but it's hard to go with a rebuilding Washington team. Light on the Eagles and a decent play on the Under.
DETROIT (-1.5/44.5) vs. Chicago
The Lions have not defeated the Bears since Dec. 16, 2017. Last year, the Bears won both games, but didn't cover the Thanksgiving game on the road. The Lions are a rare favorite here and while the Jeff Okudah pick was a strong one, he's replacing Darius Slay. The Bears have a legitimate quarterback in Nick Foles, replacing Mitch Trubisky. They also have a legitimate defense and a Khalil Mack. Take the Bears on the road and the Under 44.5
Indianapolis (-7/46) vs. JACKSONVILLE
The Colts were dreadful last season as people seem to forget. Some of that was due to Jacoby Brissett getting injured and then not really being the same afterward. Philip Rivers is a band-aid, but they are playing the Jags. This is a team rebuilding or tanking for Trevor (Lawrence). Don't like to lay that many points on the road, but the Jags are dreadful and the Colts should be improved. Slight pick on the Colts -7 and the Under 46.
MINNESOTA (-3/46.5) vs. Green Bay
The Vikings were a big disappointment last season, but did get better adding 15 draft picks and improving their defensive line. The Packers did win both games last season, including on the road, 23-10. Minnesota will miss Stefon Diggs early in the season and they are going to face an angry Aaron Rodgers with a chip on his shoulder. Take the Packers to cover (try and get the 3 1/2) and the Under 46.5 as these games have gone under in five of the last six games.
LA Chargers (-3.5/46.5) vs. CINCINNATI
It's Joe Burrow's opening game and he's facing Tyrod Taylor and the LA Chargers. At least, that's what should happen because Justin Herbert is not likely to be ready. A.J. Green is back and Joe Mixon should bust out with an improved passing game and offensive line. Burrow is ready and while they may not win this game outright, it's hard to see the Chargers covering this game on the road with the hook. Take Cincinnati at home and go Under 46.5.
SAN FRANCISCO (-8/45.5) vs. Arizona
The Cards are one of the most improved teams in the league, led by the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. But San Francisco is on another level. They lose Joe Thomas and replace him with Trent Williams at left tackle. That's a concern because he didn't play last season and won't have a lot of preparation time. The Niners also don't have DeForest Buckner to stop the run in the middle of the line. Both games were fairly close last season and Arizona has covered four straight and pushed their last game (36-26 SF). Take the points with Arizona +8 and go over 45.5
NEW ORLEANS (-4.5/49.5) vs. Tampa Bay
TOMpa Bay gets their first test and it's a big one on the road against Drew Brees. This should be a fun game, but the Bucs still have issues with their secondary. The Saints added Emmanuel Sanders and Malcolm Jenkins. They are going for one last shot the Super Bowl. It will take the Bucs some time to click with Brady. Take the Saints and go over.
Dallas (-2.5/50) vs. LA RAMS
The Rams are under everybody's radar right now. It's understandable. Todd Gurley is gone and he was struggling to regain his form. Jared Goff also took a step back last season and he lost Brandin Cooks. The Cowboys have their issues, but they are so explosive on offense. Take Dallas -2.5 and go Under 50.
Monday, Sept. 14
Pittsburgh (-3.5/48) vs. NY GIANTS
Daniel Jones gets his chance to open the season as a starter. Last year, he took over an aging Eli Manning. The Steelers may have the same issues with Ben Roethlisberger, though his issues are more with his conditioning and body starting to break down. What the Steelers do have is a strong defense, but giving 3.5 on the road is not advantageous. Slight pick on the Giants to cover at home and a stronger pick on the Under 48.
DENVER (-2.5/42) vs. Tennessee
This is the other Monday night game. It's probably not going to be most entertaining game. The Titans don't have a Patrick Mahomes. They have Ryan Tannehill and he's not going to throw it all over the place. They'll rely on Derrick Henry, but the Broncos have the entire offseason to prepare for him. Drew Lock takes over a talented offense that adds Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler as burners on offense. Take Denver and a lesser pick on the Under.