I have already written stories looking at the biggest spreads & totals for NFL Week 1 action. Now let's examine the five biggest side leans courtesy & attempt to explain why. Check out the picks at SBR.
Miami Dolphins (88 Percent) vs. Washington Redskins
All the action on Miami has moved this line from an opening of Dolphins at -2 to -3.5 at some sportsbooks. Not a huge surprise because casual bettors are influenced by the media, and there has been zero good news out of Washington during training camp or the preseason. Coach Jay Gruden is the betting favorite to be the first NFL coach fired this season and he chose Kirk Cousins to start at quarterback over Robert Griffin III -- RGIII still isn't cleared to play due to a concussion suffered in the preseason so if Cousins gets hurt, it's Colt McCoy to the rescue. Miami, meanwhile, seems to have improved itself as much as any team this offseason, led by the free-agent signing of Ndaumkong Suh.
Green Bay Packers (86 Percent) vs. Chicago Bears
This game had the largest line of any on Sunday at 7 so I examined this in my Largest Spreads story. All that Packers action has jumped the line from an open of 4 to now 7 at most sportsbooks. You still might be able to find it at 6.5 at a few places and my recommendation was to jump on that quickly because it's surely going to be at least 7 everywhere by kickoff. The Packers actually have been a slow-starting team the past couple of seasons so maybe the Bears have a shot at the upset. Yeah, maybe not. Chicago is one of a whopping eight home underdogs in Week 1.
Indianapolis Colts (78 Percent) vs. Buffalo Bills
So interesting that all these road favorites are taking such a heavy lean. This one surprises me a bit because the Buffalo defense is excellent and the Colts' offensive line definitely is not. Plus the Bills are getting 2.5 points. Although there are questions whether Bills No. 1 running back LeSean McCoy is 100 percent healthy. The Indy bandwagon is pretty full these days as the Colts could have the NFL's best offense in 2015 after adding Andre Johnson and Frank Gore to Andrew Luck's arsenal. Obviously bettors don't have much faith in Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor, who makes his first NFL regular-season start. In fact, it's his first start in a game that matters since he played for Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in the 2010 season. Taylor struggled in that one, a 40-12 loss to a Stanford team led by .... Andrew Luck.
New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals (76 Percent)
Finally a home team getting a heavy lean. The Cards are 2-point favorites on NFL odds. Not sure I understand this one. You can't tell me the Arizona offense, even with a healthy Carson Palmer (for now), is better than the Saints'. The Cardinals' offensive line is also a mess, missing two starters due to injury or suspension. Then again, the Saints are missing two projected starters in their secondary so if Palmer has time behind that shaky line, he could do some damage. The Saints are 5-4 in season openers since 2006 -- Sean Payton's first year as head coach. New Orleans won its first season-opening road game under Payton in 2006 against Cleveland but hasn’t won in three chances since then. New Orleans was also 0-4 in the preseason for whatever that's worth.
Minnesota Vikings (74 Percent) vs. San Francisco 49ers
This is your Monday night late game. Think back to Week 1 of the 2014 season. What if these two teams had played then? The 49ers were coming off a close loss in the 2013 NFC Championship Game in Seattle and were among the Super Bowl favorites for '14. The Vikings were coming off a 5-10 last-place finish in '13 and were starting journeyman Matt Cassel in Week 1 for '14. The Niners likely would have been double-digit favorites in that scenario. What a difference a season and an offseason make. The Vikings played quite well to close last season and so did rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who looks like the real deal. Minnesota also has a very fresh and very motivated Adrian Peterson here after he played just one game in 2014 due to suspension. The Niners lost half their team in the offseason to free agency or retirement and also likely have downgraded at coach with Jim Tomsula replacing Jim Harbaugh. This line opened months ago with the Niners at -4 but they are now 2.5-point underdogs.