Most handicappers have been thinking about Week 1 of the NFL season for months. While there are many opportunities for bettors to risk their money in sports throughout the calendar year, nothing gets the gambler's blood going like the NFL season.
The first week is often tricky. Bettors don't know who the good teams are, so there is a tendency to lean on trends.
Wise fans know this is not the way to go. There may be weeks during the season where a majority of favorites cover and others where the underdogs come close to sweeping the board. But the best way to go is with serious study of the matchups, because this is how NFL coaches attack each other.
There are 16 games in the opening weekend of football, and we will offer predictions on the outcomes and the over/under lines.
|Week 1 Predictions and Odds|
|Pittsburgh at New England||NE (-7.5)||52||New England; Over|
|Indianapolis at Buffalo||Ind. (-2.5)||46||Buffalo; Under|
|Green Bay at Chicago||GB (-7)||49.5||Green Bay; Over|
|Kansas City at Houston||Even||41||Kansas City; Under|
|Carolina at Jacksonville||Car. (-3)||41||Carolina; Under|
|Cleveland at NY Jets||NYJ (-3)||40||New York Jets; Under|
|Seattle at St. Louis||Sea. (-4.5)||41||St. Louis; Under|
|Miami at Washington||Mia. (-4)||43.5||Miami; Over|
|New Orleans at Arizona||Ariz. (-1)||48||New Orleans; Over|
|Detroit at San Diego||SD (-2.5)||45.5||San Diego; Over|
|Baltimore at Denver||Den. (-4.5)||49||Baltimore; Under|
|Cincinnati at Oakland||Cin. (-3)||43.5||Oakland; Under|
|Tennessee at Tampa Bay||TB (-3)||41||Tennessee; Under|
|NY Giants at Dallas||Dal. (-7)||51.5||Dallas; Over|
|Philadelphia at Atlanta||Phil. (-3)||55||Philadelphia; Over|
|Minnesota at San Francisco||Min. (-2.5)||41.5||San Francisco; Under|
|Odds Shark; Steve Silverman predictions|
Cowboys-Giants will light up the scoreboard
The Giants and Cowboys have the third-highest total on the board when they go at it in the first Sunday night game of the season. Odds Shark has the total listed at 51.5 points, just behind the Eagles and Falcons, who have a 55-point total, and the Steelers and Patriots, who open the season Thursday night with a 52-point total.
There's good reason for that. Both the Cowboys and Giants were strong on offense last year and struggled quite a bit on defense. Neither team appears to have made enough significant offseason moves that would turn its defenses into strengths.
The Cowboys, who have best starting OL in football, also now have a 1st round talent & 24-year old that has started 29 NFL games as reserves— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 7, 2015
The Cowboys were ranked seventh on offense last year, while the Giants were 10th. On the defensive side, the Cowboys ranked 19th, while the Giants were 29th.
Tony Romo should not have much trouble finding Dez Bryant, while Eli Manning should feel confident when it comes to going after Odell Beckham Jr. Meanwhile, the Giants pass rush lacks power without Jason Pierre-Paul, and while the Cowboys are expecting big things from Greg Hardy, he will not be available here.
Play the Giants and Cowboys to go over the total.
Rookie quarterbacks will struggle to score in Tampa
Totals can be quite tricky. In the case of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans, the under 41 may look like a clear choice because the Titans start off the season with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Bucs have No. 1 choice Jameis Winston under center.
If the two had met while starring in college for Oregon and Florida State, respectively, the total might have been in the 70-point range.
It's a whole different world in the NFL, where quarterbacks like Mariota and Winston are not going to find many weak links to exploit. The key to winning at the professional level is often making fewer mistakes than your opponent and avoiding them altogether when the game is on the line.
As a result, the Titans and Bucs may end up playing a conservative game because Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Tampa Bay boss Lovie Smith take the air out of the football.
Sounds like 17-13 or 20-17, doesn't it? Not necessarily. If mistakes are plentiful, defensive touchdowns could be the result.
Still, the belief here is that field goals will decide this game, and the under is the play.
Weakened Lions front could help Chargers open in impressive fashion
In years past, any game against the Detroit Lions could have been a painful experience for opposing quarterbacks.
The Lions had Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line along with Nick Fairley, and those two could be formidable when it came to breaking through the line and getting into the backfield.
That's not the case this year, as both are former Lions. Philip Rivers could be the first beneficiary of their departure. The Chargers have an excellent chance to contend in the AFC West this year, and it is vital for them to win their home games.
Starting off the season at Qualcomm Stadium against an NFC team that hasn't played a game on the West Coast since 2012 should give the Chargers the opportunity to open the season in explosive fashion. Look for Rivers to go to the air with abandon and take advantage of a Detroit defensive front that will almost certainly be less effective than in past years.
The Chargers will roll in a high-scoring game.