The wait is over! The NFL season is here, and the Denver Broncos already hold the best record in the league, following their 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night in Denver. You can check out a review of the season’s first game here. But now it is time for the rest of the league to get in on the fun.
Sunday will be chock-full of NFL games, with the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals squaring off in prime time at 8:30 to cap off the first full Sunday of what is sure to be an entertaining season. As per usual, Monday night will also play host to two games in the inaugural week of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers head to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins at 7:10 EST, followed by the Los Angeles Rams going to the Bay Area to take on Chip Kelly’s San Francisco 49ers at 10:20 EST.
But it will not just be the teams who get to have fun during week one. Fans across the nation will also be heavily invested in the week one action. Plenty of fans will have their fantasy lineups set, and you can check out plenty of high fantasy content right here from our resident Fantasy Guru Jeff Krisko! But it is not just fantasy football that will keep fans invested in this weeks action.
I am of course talking about those fans who will be taking the points against a huge favorite, or taking the over in what is sure to be a sure fire scoring-fest. So for those of you who want to get a little extra invested in this week’s slate of games, here is a look at each game, and who to take (spread included) and if you should go with the over or under. All betting lines from Vegas Insider.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 EST
Line: Falcons -2.5, O/U: 47.5
Two teams that will be slugging it out this season in the NFC South will have a chance to be atop the division come the end of the opening week following the Panthers loss. Both teams are expected to be average, .500 level teams this season and can be seen on equal playing field.
Thus the 2.5 points for the Falcons makes sense given they are home. If you view two teams as equal, favoring the home team is usually a wise move. All the Falcons need to do is win by a field goal, and they cover. But that is if you do not have a feel for the two teams.
Both teams are talented offensively, but the Bucs have a few more offensive weapons. Second-year quarterback will have Jameis Winston has two stud running backs in Doug Martin and Charles Sims, in addition to star receiver Mike Evans plus Vincent Jackson. Given his array of weapons, I think the Bucs can pull off the upset over Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Plus given all these offensive weapons on both sides, I would expect a high scoring affair.
Give me the Bucs and the over.
Result: TB 31 – Atl 24, Bucs and the over
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens 1:00 EST
Line: Ravens -3, O/U: 44
Tyrod Taylor and Rex Ryan get a crack against his old team. They will also have LeSean “Shady” McCoy and Sammy Watkins entering the season with an eye on proving their respective doubters wrong. The Bills do not have a tremendous defense, but following last year, Ryan will likely put a little extra emphasis on that side of the ball this year.
The Ravens are a team that has nothing special about them when you look at them on paper. Their overall offensive weapons seem average at best. Their defense also looks to rank around the middle of the league. Like the Falcons, they are home and are not laying a tremendous amount of points. But if you find the line right on three, you are going to need more than just a field goal.
I am expecting a lower scoring game, with the Bills taking advantage of more opportunities than the Ravens. Given I think the Bills can pull out this game, with Rex and T-Mobile out to send a message to their former team, I am going with the Bills and the under.
Result: Bal 13 – Buf 7, Bal and the under
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans 1:00 EST
Line: Texans -5, O/U: 44
Let’s be honest, the Chicago Bears I likely in for a long season. They have a sub-par defense, a mediocre offensive line, and a quarterback that their fans love to hate. Week one sees them go on the road against a team that will likely be defined by their defense, but also have some offensive capabilities.
The Texans will be led by their defense this season. Their offensive line is going to be shaky, and as a result, I expect Brock Osweiler to underwhelm on the season. But for this week, he will be able to do enough, with the help of Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins. Meanwhile, the defense will have Jay Cutler running for his life, and throwing a handful of picks.
The Texans will control the game, with Miller and the ground game seeing plenty of action. Without much questioning, I will take the Texans and the under.
Result: Hou 23 – Chi 14, Texans and the under
Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 EST
Line: Packers -5.5, O/U: 48
This is going to be one of the most entertaining games of the day. The Super Bowl-contending Packers will travel to Jacksonville to take on the sleeper Jaguars in what will likely be a back and forth game. Both teams possess high-powered offenses, with tons of weapons to go around.
The biggest factor in the game will end up being the offensive line of the Jaguars. Their line is not seen as being a very quality unit, and will likely result in Blake Bortles being on the run more often than he should be. He will be bailed out by TJ Yeldon, Allen Robinson, and Julius Thomas at times, but not all the time.
The Jaguars will still put up their points, but the turnovers forced by the pressure on Bortles will be the difference in the game. And that difference will turn out to be at least a touchdown. Give me the Packers and the over.
Result: GB 27 – Jax 23, Jaguars and the over
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 EST
Line: Chiefs -6.5, O/U: 44
Going into Kansas City is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL, as the fans in Arrowhead are always making a ton of noise. The Chiefs are sure to benefit from that this week. They will likely be without star running back Jamaal Charles, but that is ok since Spencer Ware is more than capable of replacing him. The team will likely rely heavily on Ware, and only turning to Alex Smith when they need to.
The team’s defense will also make things hard on Philip Rivers and the road team. Rivers is going to need Keenan Allen to step up if the team wants to come out a winner. The Chiefs possess the better defense, and the offense is more than capable of matching Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Allen.
Since the Chiefs are not typically a high scoring game, and will be mostly relying on the run and defense, I am looking at this game as a low scoring affair. One that sees the fans in Arrowhead leaving happy. The Chiefs and the under.
Result: KC 33 – SD 27, Chargers and the over
Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints 1:00 EST
Line: Saints -1.5, O/U: 52
The Saints are expected to be at the bottom of the NFC South, while the Raiders should be in contention for the AFC West. But apparently home field advantage is enough to make the Saints the favorites in what is expected to be one of the highest scoring games of the week.
Now I have high hopes for the Raiders this season. Derek Carr is going to lead a highly talented offense that sees Amari Cooper become a household name. He will also have weapons in the form of Michael Crabtree, Clive Walford, Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington. On top of that, their defense has some talent as well and is underrated entering the season.
So my pick for this one is easy. Given the Saints should be able to put up their fare share of points, I am tempted to go over here. But I just do not know if they will put up enough points to get the number quite that high. At the end of the day, I see the Raiders carving up the Saints defense, and will end up on that side. I will go with the Raiders and the over.
Result: Oak 35 – NO 34, Raiders and the over
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets 1:00 EST
Line: Bengals -2, O/U: 42
This game is a bit tricky to predict. One thing I know about the Bengals is that Marvin Lewis is going to be set on playing ground and pound, meaning plenty of Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. And the one thing I feel strong about the Jets is Ryan Fitzpatrick was not able to replicate last season.
Both teams are also built upon strong defenses. Pair that with the Bengals running style, and I see this ending up on the lower side of the scoring scale. But it is sure to end right around that 42 number. As for the two teams, I like the Bengals more. Fitzpatrick will underwhelm in front of his home crowd, and Andy Dalton will be able to connect with AJ Green just enough to overcome the Jets’ defense.
Bengals win by a field goal in a game that will be described as a defensive battle. So Bengals and the under.
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 EST
Line: Eagles -3.5, O/U: 41
The Eagles have me scratching my head. Following the trade of quarterback Sam Bradford to the Vikings, Chase Daniel was the wise move to be named the starting quarterback. But instead, the team opted to go with rookie Carson Wentz, who only played in one preseason game because of a rib issue.
Had Daniel been named the starter, the Eagles would have been my pick without question. But now, despite being home against the Browns, they need to win by more than a field goal behind a rookie quarterback. So everything in my gut says even though they are surely capable of winning the game, that half a point is what could come back to bite me. Robert Griffin III has looked solid in the preseason, but the Browns do not have much else.
This could surely turn into a turnover-fest, but I think one that does produce its points. I think these two teams are capable of scoring more than Vegas gives them credit for, and I do see the Eagles pulling out a close victory. But every bone in my body says that close victory will only be by three, so I have to say Browns and the over.
Result: Phi 29 – Cle 10, Eagles and the under
Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans 1:00 EST
Line: Vikings -2.5, O/U: 40.5
The Vikings suffered a major loss a few weeks ago when starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down with a season-ending knee injury. After trading for Sam Bradford, the team named Shaun Hill the starter for the week, as Bradford needs to learn the playbook. So the thing you should take away from that is we will be seeing plenty of Adrian Peterson this week.
Now the Titans are home, and they have some offensive weapons. Marcus Mariota could surely give the highly talented Vikings defense some fits. So can the teams running back duo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The team does not have a standout number one receiver, but Delanie Walker the cast of misfit toys that is their receiving corps have enough talent to surprise.
The Titans offense will surprise despite facing one of the more talented defensive units in the league. And given the Titans defense is likely to be one of the worst in the league, Peterson should be putting up his points as well. I will take the home team and the points here, Titans and the over.
Result: Min 25 – Ten 16, Vikings and the over
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks 4:05 EST
Line: Seahawks -10.5, O/U: 44
I love both teams this season. The Seahawks have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins enter the season with one of the most underrated offenses in the league, as well as a capable defense. Entering Seattle is the hardest thing to do in the NFL, even ahead of going into Arrowhead, meaning the 10.5 points is a fair assessment.
But the Dolphins do not need to go in and win for you to come out on top. All you need is for Ryan Tannehill, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry and the rest of the Dolphins crew to stay within 10. I have enough faith in their offense, even against the feared Seattle defense, to stay within the two scores.
Pair that with a Seahawks offense that should be pretty darn good, and this game can easily produce some points. The Seahawks come out on top, but with a 10.5 point spread, I would not have enough faith given the talent of Miami. Give me the Dolphins and the over.
Result: Sea 12 – Mia 10, Dolphins and the under
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys 4:25 EST
Line: PK, O/U: 46
It just so happens the one game I do not have a good feel for is a pick’em. So let’s make a quick argument for each side, shall we?
The Giants enter the season with an improved defense. They will also be going up against a rookie quarterback who is going to have all eyes on him. If their pressure can get to Dak Prescott, it is going to be a long day for the rookie. The team also has a very capable offense, led by veteran Eli Manning.
Dallas is home, which always gives a team the extra advantage. Prescott has looked great in the preseason, and will be behind one of the best lines in the league. He will also be handing off to dynamic rookie Ezekiel Elliott. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will be there to pull in his passes, which should be enough offense to match anything Eli can put up.
At the end of the day, this is a divisional battle that could turn into an ugly game. It can also turn into a shootout, but I am not expecting that given the improved Giants defense and rookie-laden Cowboy offense. I like the Giants defense more, so I’m going Giants and the under.
Result: NYG 20 – Dal 19, Giants and the under
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts 4:25 EST
Line: Colts -3, O/U: 51
Neither team has a defense. Each team has a quarterback capable of exploited their opposition. Each team also has plenty of offensive weapons. The result, the highest scoring game of the week. Book it.
Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford are going to trade blows back and forth. Expect good fantasy numbers across the board in this one. Overall I like the Colts offense a little bit more, but is that difference enough to justify them winning by more than a field goal? I would say if the line were under three, I would lean the Colts, but given where it stands, I see it ending right on the number.
So if you can find the line somewhere at 2.5, I would lean Colts and the over.
Result: Det 39 – Ind 35, Lions and the over
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals 8:30 EST
Line: Cardinals -7, O/U: 45
This line took a serious jump with the news Rob Gronkowski would not be playing. This means the Pats will be without Tom Brady and Gronk. So this pick will depend solely on your faith in Jimmy Garoppolo and Martellus Bennett.
Both teams are seen as Super Bowl contenders, and both teams have extremely talented defenses. The Patriots will likely resort to a short passing, screen, and run type approach tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, the Cardinals will feature both the run and pass, with David Johnson and the team’s trio of receivers in on the action.
I have enough faith in Garoppolo and the defense to keep New England in this one, and the news of Gronk being out not being a total killer. It allows the Pats to enter the game with the Cardinals not having much of a game plan of who they need to take away. The Patriots still have plenty of receiving options, and will keep this within a touchdown. The Patriots and the under.
Result: NE 23 – ARZ 21, Patriots and the under
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins 7:10 EST (Monday)
Line: Steelers -3, O/U: 50
The Steelers will be without several players on Monday night. Running back Le’Veon Bell is out with a suspension, while wide receiver Markus Wheaton is out with a shoulder injury. But that does not mean the team will suffer on offense, as they still possess plenty of weapons. Look for tight end Jesse James to be a name most people are talking about following the game.
The Redskins have their fair share of talent on offense as well. The scoring will be plentiful for sure, so the real question is can the Steelers go on the road and win by more than a field goal. Given they are one of the favorites to win it all this season, I feel they can overcome the loss of their running back, whom they proved last season they can win without.
So give me the Steelers and the over.
Result: Pitt 38 – Was 16, Steelers and the over
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers 10:20 EST (Monday)
Line: Rams -2, O/U: 43
I expect the 49ers to be one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in the entire NFL this season. They have serious questions at quarterback, wide receiver, defense and a head coach that comes in after running another team into the ground. So needless to say, this prediction is not going to end well for San Fran considering the Rams only need to win by a field goal.
The Rams will win this game for two reasons: their defense, and Todd Gurley. The defense is going to be one of the best in the league, and will be the reason the team is in a handful of games. And Gurley is just a beast, and he is set to run wild on Monday night. The Rams will get an early lead, and then control the game with these two factors. So this is an easy pick for me. The Rams and the under.
Result: SF 28 – LA 0, 49ers and the under