Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season is full of uncertainty.
Because of this, Vegas and the offshore bookmakers have been setting plenty of cautious lines with hardly any favoritism after factoring in three points for home-field advantage.
By doing so, these line-makers are basically saying that they aren’t sure exactly how the action is going to shake out and have about as much idea as your average member of the general public.
You need to be optimistic but careful when placing down wagers in the opening week, and here are some games to definitely avoid betting the farm on.
Washington Redskins (-4.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
All we know is that this going to be an old-fashioned shootout between two longtime rivals, but no one could possibly predict exactly how it pans out.
Both starting quarterbacks—Robert Griffin III for Washington and Michael Vick for Philadelphia—have a number of concerns surrounding them, including injury red flags.
The two mobile signal-callers have been prone to missing games during their career after taking hard shots from defenders. RGIII is coming off major knee surgery and will be seeing his first significant action since the procedure.
Outside of that, new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is trying to transfer his high-powered offense to the NFL and will rely on Vick heavily to make it run.
Whether that is successful or not remains to be seen, but we’ll find out soon enough when these two take the field.
Indianapolis Colts (-10) vs. Oakland Raiders
The Colts are heavily favored and highly likely to win this contest at home, but it’s tough to back them as a double-digit favorite.
Oakland is trotting out a wildly unproven quarterback in Terrelle Pryor, but the former Ohio State star has massive upside and could have success right out of the gate this year.
Pryor has been on the roster for two seasons now and saw some meaningful action in mop-up duty last year, but he’s now going to be relied upon as a starting-caliber quarterback for the team.
There’s a chance that he’s learned enough during his time on the bench and has improved his mechanics to the point where he’s a legitimate dual-threat danger that can have Oakland coming from nowhere to compete in 2013.
Indianapolis’ defense looks shaky at best, so Pryor and the Raiders offense will look to fire on all cylinders and gain some confidence right off the bat.
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) vs. New York Giants
NFC East matchups are always close to impossible to predict—see above with Washington vs. Philly—and the outcome truly can go either way anytime these two bitter rivals meet.
Dallas shocked the G-Men in the 2012 opener, beating the defending Super Bowl champs in front of the entire nation at MetLife Stadium.
New York would have its revenge in late-October, knocking out the Cowboys on the road in a critical contest.
However, America’s Team was exceptionally awful at its home stadium last year, covering the spread in just one of the eight games played there.
If that trend continues into 2013, it’s going to be hard for it to walk away victorious.
The Giants are hungry for revenge after suffering a championship hangover and missing the playoffs last winter. They will be eager to deliver the first strike and gain immediate ground in what should be a bitter battle for the divisional crown.
For these reasons, lean towards New York if you must bet the game, but don’t invest too much into Big Blue as anything could happen on Sunday.