Week 1 of the NFL season presents some tough decisions when looking at the spreads, but there are some favorites which are locks to cover.
Three road teams that are favorites immediately jump out at you when looking at the lines: the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Each of these teams has a favorable matchup in Week 1 and should have no problem covering the spread despite playing away from home.
Let's break down each game and why you can take it to the bank with these favorites.
Betting lines courtesy of Bovada.lv
New England Patriots (-10) at Buffalo Bills
There may be some doubts about the Pats offense this season thanks to some key offseason departures and injuries, but Tom Brady is still behind center and should have no issue racking up yards and points—especially against the Bills.
On the flip side, Buffalo is starting a rookie quarterback behind center in EJ Manuel, and that leaves the Bills at a major disadvantage to start the season. Granted, Manuel may end up being a solid quarterback, but he'll have a tall order in trying to get his career off the ground against a talented New England secondary.
The Bills defense is suspect at best, and that means Brady should be able to pick it apart with the help of a rushing attack that will feature Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. That kind of versatility will make it a nightmare for Buffalo's defensive unit.
With the Bills hard pressed to score points and the Pats offense dominating an inferior defense, New England should win this one by a few touchdowns at least and easily cover the spread.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) at New York Jets
The Bucs will feature a revamped secondary this season just a year after finishing dead last against the pass. Star cornerback Darrelle Revis will take the field for the first time in a regular-season game with the Bucs and will be added to a mix that includes safety Mark Barron.
New York will have its fare share of issues in this game, with rookie Geno Smith taking the snaps. It's difficult enough for a first-year signal-caller to be successful in his debut, but that problem will be compounded by the fact that Smith will have an elite corner covering whoever his best target is.
Tampa Bay finished No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game last season, so it should be a long, frustrating day for Bilal Powell and the Jets rushing attack, as it is likely to fail miserably at moving the chains to give Smith support.
There just isn't enough talent on this Jets roster to get it done, and while the Bucs may not light it up on the offensive side of the ball, a strong defensive effort will be more than enough to win by a touchdown or more.
Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers
Expectations are high for the Seahawks this season after narrowly missing out on the NFC Championship Game in 2012-13 with a rookie quarterback. Now a year older and wiser, Russell Wilson should show vast improvements in his game.
Sporting one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Seahawks will be a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball, thanks to an elite rushing attack headed by Marshawn Lynch and a solid game through the air.
The Panthers will have a very tough go of it in Week 1.
Cam Newton can certainly make plays with both his arm and legs, but two excellent corners in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner could very well knock out Newton's two favorite targets—one of which is perennial 1,000-yard receiver Steve Smith.
Things won't be any easier on the ground for Carolina, either. DeAngelo Williams had a strong finish to the season in 2012-13, but it was Newton who led the team in rushing when these two squads met last year. Williams gained just six yards on six carries in that game.
The Seahawks pulled out a 16-12 win in the pair's meeting last season, and even a score like that would be enough to cover the spread.
However, the Seahawks' great season was still in its infancy at that point, so it's more than likely that they beat the Panthers by a lot more than just a field goal.
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