The NFL has a long off-season so football fans have to get excited about certain events, the draft has passed, we know the rosters for the summer now, we even knew which teams they’d be facing in the coming season, but now we know the exact order of those teams! Tickets can be bought, flights can be booked and we can play our years a little better.
I’ll take a look at some stand-out games for week 1, from betting and hopefully an entertainment standpoint, with the best online sportsbooks now offering spreads on each game there’s a couple I thought we lined badly.
Stand Out Games
The schedule-makers have done a good job of creating competitive matchups for week one, with only one game having a spread north of a touchdown (The 49ers 7.5 point favorites at Detroit) and nine of the 16 games have spread of 3.5 points or lower.
For me, the best game for a neutral has to be a re-match of last year’s AFC divisional round as the Cleveland Browns take on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns put up a good fight in that game and have re-upped in the offseason with the signings of Clowney, McKinley and Malik Jackson upfront as well as the big money on safety John Johnson and Troy Hill from the Rams. They strengthened their defense and should welcome back Odell Beckham on offense who missed most of last year. They’re stronger than last year and should take another step towards challenging for the Superbowl.
The Chiefs have invested heavily in their offensive line after it was manhandled in the Superbowl. They should welcome back Dr. Tardiff and Niang while they signed Joe Thuney and made him the highest paid Guard in the league, as well as picking up Kyle Long as well as picking two more OL in the draft, it’s safe to say that area cost them the Superbowl and they’re doing their best to fix that problem.
The betting lines have the Chiefs around six point favorites, it’s always silly to back against Andy Reid coming off long rest, but I’ve a sneaky feeling the Browns will keep it closer than that.
I quite like the idea of taking the Steelers as six point underdogs in Buffalo (although I’d like seven I don’t think it will move that way). Sure, they finished the season terribly, but they were the last unbeaten team at 11-0 and while Big Ben is getting on, when healthy he’s still adequate. They picked up Najee Harris at RB in the first round and have revamped their awful run-blocking line. I think they’re better than perceived at the moment.
On the other side of the ball, I think the Bills are over-hyped after their success last year. They had a very good season on both sides of the ball, I just think they will be found out a little this year and teams will plan better for them.
End result is that I don’t think the Bills are nearly a TD better than the Steelers.
A quick blitz of other lines I like. I’m biased here, but I don’t think the Bengals should be three point underdogs at home but it would require them stopping Dalvin Cook which is never easy; Packers vs. Saints is an interesting one and dependent on Aaron Rodgers, but if he plays I’m tempted taking the Pack as underdogs against the Saints without Drew Brees for the first time in 15 years.
The Dolphins and Patriots face each other in the opener in Foxborough with the big spending Patriots less than a field goal favorite, that’s an intriguing one after all the signings they’ve made over the summer while Sam Darnold gets to face his old team immediately as the Panthers host the Jets.