Handicapping the opening week of the NFL season is always the toughest week of the year because we really don't know who is what yet. But let's examine some of those opening lines with NFL odds courtesy of BetOnline.
Breaking Down Week 1 NFL Odds
It's rather unusual that no team is more than a 7-point favorite for Week 1. You generally will always see at least one club higher than that each week. I don't think it's so much that we have a bunch of great opening-week matchups but that oddsmakers are being rather conservative until they see the product on the field. The only 7-point favorite right now is New England for that NFL Kickoff Game on Thursday night against the visiting Steelers. And that line shot up from 3.5 points when Tom Brady's suspension was overturned in a Manhattan federal court last week. Remember, too, that Pittsburgh is without its 2014 team MVP, running back Le'Veon Bell, and projected third receiver Martavis Bryant. Bell rushed for 1,361 yards and eight scores in 2014 while catching 83 balls for 854 yards and three more TDs. Bryant caught only 26 passes but eight were for touchdowns.
The biggest home dog of Week 1 is Chicago at +6.5 against Green Bay, a team the Bears just about never beat as long as Aaron Rodgers stays on the field. Not sure if you have been following the Bears this preseason, but they might well be the worst team in the NFL. The offensive line is a total disaster. Ditto receiver with rookie first-round pick Kevin White likely to miss the entire season and No. 1 Alshon Jeffery not having played at all this preseason with a calf injury. The defense also is a mess as it converts to 3-4 scheme under new head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. I can't remember the last time I've seen such negativity surrounding a Bears season. According to Sports Insights, the Packers are taking the biggest lean of any Week 1 team, backed by around 86 percent of NFL picks.
The next team taking the most action is Miami in Washington, with the Dolphins giving 3.5 points. The Redskins are probably the most dysfunctional team in the NFL right now. Robert Griffin III barely kept his roster spot and is currently the team's No. 3 QB behind starter Kirk Cousins and No. 2 Colt McCoy. That's if RGIII is even cleared to play. He hasn't been yet due to a concussion. In typical Redskins news, the independent neurological consultant who reversed course on Griffin III's post-concussion playing status has resigned and been replaced as the team's concussion doctor.
Seattle is +4 at St. Louis and it appears the Seahawks and Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor are still at odds. He has held out this entire preseason because he wants a new contract even though his current one has three years left on it. No team can afford to cave to such demands or every player will want to renegotiate his deal. The Rams have a Super Bowl-caliber defense. So it's all up to how good Nick Foles will be in his first season as St. Louis' starting quarterback. The team also isn't expecting to have first-round running back Todd Gurley for at least the first few games as he works his way back from a serious knee injury that cut his 2014 season at Georgia shut. Seattle carries the longest regular-season winning streak into this one at six straight.
The Monday night doubleheader brings two interesting story lines. It's the Eagles debut of quarterback Sam Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray, last season's rushing champion with Dallas. Bradford has looked really good this preseason. If he can stay healthy, the Eagles might win the NFC. I'm still shocked the team didn't keep Tim Tebow, however. Think it's over for his playing career. Philly is +3 at Atlanta.
The nightcap features the return of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after he missed all but one game last season due to suspension. Think he might be a tad motivated in 2015? The Vikings are 2.5-point favorites at San Francisco, NFL odds that would have been unthinkable 12 months ago. But the Niners had one of the worst offseason in recent NFL history with all their player (and coaching) losses.