NFL Lines Week 1: Betting Guide for Late-Afternoon and Prime-Time Matchups

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 24:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers scrambles with the football during the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL season is already underway with a number of early-afternoon matchups, but gamblers can still get in on the action by betting on the late-Sunday showdowns and Monday Night Football double-header.

There’s a handful of marquee matchups that could only get more exciting by placing down a wager—be it friendly or serious—on the outcome of the contest. Keep reading to see the lines for those games, some advice on how to bet them if you aren’t sure on which way to lean and more.


Avoid NFC East Showdowns

You can throw out the gambler’s handbook anytime teams from the NFC East face off, as the division is arguably the toughest and most unpredictable in football.

For Week 1’s late afternoon and prime-time matchups, it would be best to avoid wagering on the Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, as well as the Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Both of those games could go a number of ways, as a number of new faces, injuries, systems and the simple fact that bitter rivals are squaring off will all impact the outcome in unforeseen and unpredictable ways. It would be wise to hold off and see how these two contests shake out and then use the information to make informed and smart bets the next 16 weeks of the 2013 campaign.


Back Big Home Dog

Backing the home underdog is always a great decision, especially when it’s close to a touchdown or more. The only team this rule still applies to after the early-afternoon games is the San Diego Chargers in their Monday Night Football contest against the Houston Texans.

You should feel more than comfortable backing the Bolts, even on national television against a high-powered Texans squad. The team is employing a new head coach in Mike McCoy, someone who will be looking to maximize Philip Rivers’ potential behind a relatively poor offensive line.

Expect more quick throws to open things up for the strong-armed signal-caller, and the defense will hold its own against a Texans rushing game that will limit star running back Arian Foster’s touches.

Houston may still win, but it’s going to be by a field goal at most. Take the points and get paid with the Chargers.


Keep Eye on Cards

The Cardinals are about to take flight again after a disastrous 2012 campaign, but this time they look to be a dark horse to win the tough NFC West.

Last year, Arizona featured one of the most atrocious offensive lines in football and a revolving door of terrible quarterbacks behind it. Things look to be different in 2013, as the Red Birds improved the line and brought in Carson Palmer to run the show.

The defense is better than ever, with a great pass rush and secondary ready to slow the prolific signal-callers found in the division and across the league.

The Cardinals have their first chance to show those improvements as a 3.5-point underdog against the St. Louis Rams, and you should definitely consider backing them at that number.

This 4:25 p.m. ET matchup should be decided by three points or less, so get your bet in before that number moves any further.