Week 1 of the 2013 NFL regular season is close enough that fans are beginning to count down the hours. While every supporter is in favor of their respective teams, only a select few squads are actually being undervalued as the oddsmakers list the spread.
The question is, which teams will beat the odds during Week 1 of the regular season?
There are bound to be upsets and road teams walking away with victories, as always seems to be the case during every week of NFL action. With that being said, a select few teams have established themselves as teams that will outperform the label of an underdog.
The question is, who will live up to the hype and pull out an unforeseen victory?
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears
Date: Sunday, Sep. 8 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Bears (-4) via OddsShark.com
Prediction: Bengals 20, Bears 17
The Chicago Bears are a quality football team with an elite wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, a dynamic running back, Matt Forte, a gunslinging quarterback, Jay Cutler, and a strong defense. Chicago is also historically dominant during the first half of the season before injuries destroy it's postseason chances.
With that being said, the Cincinnati Bengals opened the 2012 season with a 44-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and proceeded to finish 10-6. Don't expect Cincinnati to start slow in 2013.
The Bengals are viewed as a team on the rise, but that statement only applies to the offensive side of things. The Bengals were sixth in total defense in 2012, ranking eighth in scoring defense and seventh against the pass.
With Geno Atkins and the young guns one year wiser, and the likes of James Harrison and Terrence Newman offering personnel upgrades, look for the Bengals to prove a point during Week 1.
Brandon Marshall doesn't get enough credit, as he dominates even the best cornerbacks in the NFL on a weekly basis. Against the Bengals, however, Marshall will be facing one of the best when he goes toe-to-toe with Leon Hall.
If Hall can cut off the passing lanes and force Cutler to look elsewhere, the Bears' question marks at receiver will be exposed and the mercurial quarterback will inevitably force passes. That's all Cincinnati needs to create turnovers and get after the quarterback—Chicago allowed 44.0 sacks in 2012, for perspective.
Did we mention that Marshall is countered by A.J. Green? Plain and simple, Cincinnati shouldn't be the underdogs here.
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
Date: Sunday, Sep. 8 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Even via OddsShark.com
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Jaguars 13
The Kansas City Chiefs enter the 2013 NFL regular season with a completely revamped roster. They hired a new coach, Andy Reid, found a new and competent quarterback, Alex Smith, and added the likes of Donnie Avery, Travis Kelce, Mike DeVito, Eric Fisher, Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping to win with virtually the same roster that went 2-14 in 2012. So someone please explain how Jacksonville is rendered even against Kansas City.
The Chiefs may not live up to their wild card potential, but that doesn't discredit Kansas City's supremacy over teams of Jacksonville's caliber. The Chiefs will have a significantly better offense in 2013, giving Dwayne Bowe a quarterback who has thrown for 30 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in his past 26 starts.
By comparison, Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined for eight touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2012.
Not only do the Chiefs add significantly better pieces than a year ago, but they return All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles, All-Pro receiver Bowe and star cornerback Brandon Flowers. The Jaguars may have a healthy Maurice Jones-Drew, but putting money on Blaine Gabbert is the worst risk you could possibly take.
Kansas City has made drastic improvements on both ends, have a very good head coach and will outclass the Jaguars in Jacksonville. The fact they're even in the spread is laughable.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Date: Sunday, Sep. 8 at 1:00 PM ET
Betting Line: Lions (-4.5) via OddsShark.com
Prediction: Vikings 34, Lions 30
The Detroit Lions experienced a monumental collapse during the 2012 NFL regular season, going from 10-6 to 4-12 with virtually the same roster in place. Expectations are high again in 2013, however, especially after the Lions added running back Reggie Bush.
With that being said, there's no way around how stunning it is to see the Minnesota Vikings as the 4.5-point underdogs.
The Vikings have questions at quarterback and on defense, but they also have Adrian Peterson and a drastically improved receiving corps with Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson coming to town. Injuries along the defensive line and a weak secondary favor Detroit's elite passing game, but let's be real.
The odds favor an improved 4-12 team over an improved 10-6 team.
The Lions have a genuine opportunity to win this game, as their offense is extraordinary and defense has potential. With that being said, Peterson still plays for the Vikings, and Ponder has multiple quality receivers for the first time in his career.
Jennings, Patterson and Kyle Rudolph project to be a strong enough receiving group to stretch defenses out and open the door for Peterson to go to work. Even if they fail to, Peterson ran for more than 2,000 yards with every defense he faced crowding the box.
If that still hasn't sold you, the Lions were 0-6 against the NFC North—the odds shouldn't favor any team that performed that poorly, no matter how talented it may be.