The last Sunday that featured a meaningful NFL game was Groundhog Day when the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos squared off for the Super Bowl title.
Ideally, you used all those free weekends to cram in as much extra family time as you could, dutifully attend those summer weddings and build up some capital for football season because it’s time to devote our weekends to pigskin for the foreseeable future.
Of course, there are some fans who take a rooting interest in games that extend beyond those featuring their favorite teams. Oftentimes, those fans, not so coincidentally, have been to the sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
With that in mind, here is a look at all of the Week 1 NFL odds, according to Odds Shark, as of Tuesday evening. We even mixed in a few predictions for your viewing pleasure.
|Home Team||Away Team||Spread||Predicted winner vs. spread|
|Seattle||Green Bay||SEA -5.5||Seattle|
|Atlanta Falcons||New Orleans Saints||NO -2.5||New Orleans|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||Even||Cincinnati|
|Chicago Bears||Buffalo Bills||CHI -7||Chicago|
|Houston Texans||Washington Redskins||HOU -2.5||Houston|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Tennessee Titans||KC -3.5||Kansas City|
|Miami Dolphins||New England Patriots||NE -5||New England|
|NY Jets||Oakland Raiders||NY -5.5||New York|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Jacksonville Jaguars||PHI -11.5||Philadelphia|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||PIT -7||Pittsburgh|
|St. Louis Rams||Minnesota Vikings||STL -3.5||St. Louis|
|Dallas Cowboys||San Francisco 49ers||SF -4.5||San Francisco|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Carolina Panthers||TB -1||Carolina|
|Denver Broncos||Indianapolis Colts||DEN -9||Denver|
|Detroit Lions||New York Giants||DET -5.5||New York|
|Arizona Cardinals||San Diego Chargers||AZ -3||San Diego|
Games to Watch
NFC: Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
Adrian Peterson likely has fond memories of the St. Louis Rams. The last time “All Day” faced them, he exploded for 212 rushing yards in the victory, including an 82-yard touchdown scamper that contributed to his 2012 MVP season.
Peterson and Rams running back Zac Stacy will play major roles in this contest because this isn’t exactly a showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady at signal-caller.
St. Louis lost quarterback Sam Bradford to injury in the preseason and will turn the reins over to Shaun Hill, while Minnesota settled on Matt Cassel over rookie Teddy Bridgewater.
The key to this game and the reason we picked the Rams against the spread is the defensive line in St. Louis. Stopping the running backs and putting pressure on the vulnerable quarterbacks should help set the tone in this one, and the Rams may have the best defensive line in the league.
Robert Quinn and Chris Long are pass-rushing fiends, and rookie Aaron Donald shores up the middle as a run-stuffer.
Throw in middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, and this defensive front is certainly formidable. It may not be able to completely stop Peterson, but it will at least contain him and put serious pressure on Cassel. Look for Quinn and company to rattle Cassel into at least one interception Sunday as they stuff the box.
What’s more, special teams could be key in a low-scoring affair, and Tavon Austin is more than capable of breaking a game-changing punt return for the Rams. Fox Sports NFL certainly thinks so:
He has the tools. He has a year of experience. Even w/out Sam Bradford this could be a breakout year for Tavon Austin http://t.co/1GUcid5fX6— FOX Sports NFL (@NFLonFOX) August 27, 2014
Prediction: Rams 24, Vikings 17
AFC: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
The spread may be more than a touchdown in this one, but we still like Peyton Manning and company.
The Indianapolis Colts handed the Denver Broncos their first loss in the seventh game last season and even held a 33-17 lead in the fourth quarter at one point. However, Manning and the Broncos offense will be looking for some revenge Sunday.
There will be some notable names missing on both sides. Wes Welker is reportedly suspended for the Broncos, and Robert Mathis is suspended for the Colts. The loss of Mathis is critical because his absence will allow Manning to sit back in the pocket and operate with the surgeon-like precision he almost always does when given time.
Remember, the Broncos have scored a combined 80 points in Manning’s two openers and feature an improved defense behind DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward, among others.
There also has to be some credence to the idea that the Broncos are looking to remove the lingering bad taste from the Super Bowl that has festered during the entire offseason. Unfortunately for the Colts, that may just mean plenty of Denver points Sunday night.
There is also a strange dynamic with Manning facing off against his former team. Reggie Wayne discussed it, via Phil Richards of USA Today: "I want to beat him every time. Once the whistle blows, you're their enemy. When the fourth quarter comes and it's all zeroes on there, now we can laugh and talk about whatever it is. That's just the attitude of a football player."
Denver is motivated and talented, and Indianapolis’ best chance at slowing down Manning will be on the sidelines for this one. That’s not a great combination for the Colts.
Prediction: Broncos 34, Colts 23
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