What good is the NFL opening weekend without some upsets?
Sure, most games will likely go according to plan, but there's always a wild few that set fire to survival pools ablaze. Remember when the Seattle Seahawks opened last season amid plenty of buzz, only to fall victim to Kevin Kolb and the mighty Arizona Cardinals? Wow, 2012's Week 1 was a long time ago.
For the most part, Vegas hit the nail on the head with the opening week's odds. It's easy to call New England handling Buffalo with ease, but the oddsmakers have the foresight to remain unfooled by the Minnesota Vikings' unlikely playoff bid and are all in on the Saints at New Orleans.
When are the odds ever perfect though?
Seeing either of these teams win would hardly shake up the NFL landscape. Nevertheless, both squads come into the opening weekend as underdogs, so take advantage of the friendly spread.
Odds are courtesy of Vegas Insider and are as of Friday night.
Cincinnati Bengals Will Maul Chicago Bears (-3)
Bettors are valuing home-field advantage much too sacredly in this instance, as the superior road squad will emerge victorious.
Despite prevailing as an overwhelming pick to win their first AFC North crown since 2009, the Bengals enter the season as the underdog against the Chicago Bears. One of the week's most under-appreciated marquee matchups deserves a razor-thin spread, but they picked the wrong side to favor.
The Bears will be an exciting team to watch early in the season as new head coach Marc Trestman promises to spice up a defense that tasted far too bland under Lovie Smith. The former Canadian Football League guru could offer some exciting wrinkles to the system, but he faces a daunting challenge in unleashing his scheme against a ferocious Bengals defense.
Cincinatti finished the 2012 campaign as one of the league's stingiest defenses, ranking sixth in yards allowed while amplifying the pressure with 51 team sacks. After Jay Cutler experienced a tortuous season behind Chicago's offense line in 2012, Cincinnati's front four is a horrific unit for him to start this season against.
The new O-line pieces and offensive schemes will be afforded little time to adjust against such a tough opponent. Not to mention team leader Brian Urlacher will be nowhere in sight.
Expect the shaky Cutler to show up this weekend against Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, but don't let that sour your season expectations for the Bears.
Prediction: Bengals 17, Bears 13
Philadelphia Eagles Will Fly Over Washington Redskins (-3.5)
By that logic, the Eagles should also not be trusted in Chip Kelly's head-coaching debut. If they were going against the Bengals, sure. Against a questionable Washington defense and a quarterback who has not played a meaningful game since tearing his ACL? Let it ride.
Last season, the Redskins surrendered 282 passing yards per game, placing 30th in the NFL. While the Eagles' defense was just as bad, they addressed their secondary woes by acquiring Patrick Chung and Cary Williams.
They get a healthy Eagles squad with the offensive weapons to thrive under Kelly's college style attack. With LeSean McCoy back and ready to break ankles and DeSean Jackson looking to burn Washington's porous secondary deep, this game has upset alert written all over it.
Washington fans must not be reminded of this other time Michael Vick faced them on Monday Night Football. He probably won't last 16 games frequently running around, but Vick is always capable of greatness when healthy.
So is Robert Griffin III, who has healed quickly from his torn ACL suffered in last season's playoff loss against the Seahawks. The explosive quarterback is good to go on Monday night, but what can we reasonably expect from the sophomore? Adrian Peterson's freakish recovery has spoiled us all into thinking this major injury is nothing, but not everyone is a cyborg programmed for football domination.
Kelly and the Eagles have been presented with the perfect opportunity to catch the Redskins off guard while placing a wide-open NFC East on notice.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Redskins 20
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