NFL Week 1 Picks: Best Bets & Tips For Every Game


NFL Week 1 Picks: Best Bets & Tips For Every Game

The NFL is one positive COVID-19 test away from having half its teams start the 2021 season with a new quarterback.

Right now, 15 teams have new QB1s this year. The Great Realignment began with the retirements of Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers and long-time Saints passer Drew Brees. A seismic trade of QBs between the Lions and Rams featured Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff swapping unis. Andy Dalton jumped from Dallas to Chicago. Teddy Bridgewater got higher in Denver. Ryan Fitzpatrick is now sporting his Middle Earth beard in Washington. The beleaguered Sam Darnold was jettisoned to the Panthers. Carson Wentz is already hated in Indy as much as he was in Philly.

Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones went from first-round picks to Opening Week starting NFL quarterbacks.

Let the kids play!

It’s a lot for NFL betting fans to digest.

The AFC East features four starting QBs all 25 or under. Bills QB Josh Allen, the lone incumbent in the division, is 25. Tua Tagovailoa, who started a handful of games in Miami last season behind Fitzpatrick, and Jones face off in Week 1 at Gillette Stadium. The former Alabama teammates be 23 when the season begins. Wilson is the babe of the group. He turned 22 last month on the same day Tom Brady turned 44.

Guess that makes Brady everyone’s daddy.

The Bucs fire the cannons and begin their Super Bowl defense Thursday. The 1 p.m. ET Sunday time slot has nine games this week. The NFL RedZone Octobox is going to need a secret square. We have scoured through our favorite betting apps, so now on to Week 1 NFL picks for Week 1.

Thursday, Sept. 9

Dallas at Tampa Bay, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

After an offseason of record inconsistency and change, the 2021 NFL season begins where the 2020 NFL season ended: at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Brady and the Super Bowl 55 champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first team in the post free-agency era (1994) to bring back all 22 starters after winning a championship.

The Bucs feature a ferocious defense as well as perhaps the best 1-2 wideout tandem in football with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. If the Cowboys are as underwhelming on the field as they were on “Hard Knocks,” this one could be a rout for the hometown champs. This line has moved as much as 2 points in TB’s favor since it opened in May. Best Bet: Under 51.5 Points at PointsBet.

Check out Cowboys vs. Buccaneers odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Sunday, Sept. 12

New York Jets at Carolina, 1 p.m. (CBS)

The Jets have stumbled in 2021 without bungling a single snap. Of all the teams to face in Week 1, only the Jets could draw the one that signed their former starting quarterback. Karma. Payback. Revenge. Darnold has all three at his back, along with everyone’s favorite No. 1 Fantasy League pick in RB Christian McCaffrey. After playing just 3 games last season, McCaffrey returns fully healthy.

The Panthers feature a decent offensive line and reliable WR targets in D.J. Moore in Robby Anderson. Darnold never had any of those luxuries in Gotham. Jets first-year coach Robert Saleh needs his team to take Baby Steps. The Panthers have a 69% probability to win. Where is Rob Gronkowski when you need him? Best Bet: Under 45.5 Points at PointsBet.

Check out Panthers vs. Jets odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (CBS)

The Steelers may be sleeping after their run-in with Bills Mafia. Buffalo is poised to make a Super Bowl run while the Steelers have become a rusted hulk of their former selves. Pittsburgh went 11-0 to start the 2020 season before dropping 5 of its final 6 games, including in the playoffs.

Josh Allen is a legit MVP threat. If the Bills are as good as advertised, this is the sort of game they will win going away. There has been a slight shift toward the Bills in the line, but it’s under a touchdown and should be an easy win for Bills bettors, who have seen their team cover 61.1% of the time since 2019. Leave the gun. Take the cannolis. And the Bills. Best Bet: Buffalo -6.5 at BetMGM.

Check out Bills vs. Steelers odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

San Francisco at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)

The Lions’ Week 1 QB is not Stafford for the first time since 2010. Tight end TJ Hawkinson will be Goff’s primary target when the Lions dare throw the ball. The 49ers are used to Goff, having faced him twice each season throughout his career. Nick Bosa is back for the 49ers. San Francisco will pressure early and often.

Expect the Lions to run a lot, with D’Andre Swift getting the bulk of the carries. Ford Field has seen its share of lemons over the years. The one could top the recall list. The 49ers have a 74% probability to win, but as a rule we try to avoid 7.5-point road favorites when betting NFL spreads. Best Bet: Lions +7.5 at BetMGM.

Check out Lions vs. 49ers odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Minnesota at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Cincinnati QB and No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow was knocked out of the 2020 season in Week 10. He returns in 2021 to face a top-10 NFL defense in Week 1. The Vikings have held as 3-point favorites since this line opened. The Bengals took Burrow’s former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase in the first round of the draft and patched some big holes in the offensive line.

The trends here all point toward a Bengals home upset. The Vikings are 0-7 ATS in their past seven games and are riding a five-game slide as betting favorites. Meanwhile, Cincy is 5-2 ATS in last seven at home. Young Guns are all the rage in the NFL – outside Tampa Bay and Green Bay – and Burrow is only 24. And one cool cat. Best Bet: Bengals ML +155 at DraftKings

Check out Bengals vs. Vikings odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Philadelphia at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Wobbly wings. Broken beaks. Flustered feathers. You can tell where this is going. This Battle of the Birds could set aviary evolution back 100,000 years. The Falcons and Eagles combined for eight wins last season. Philly is all-in with 23-year-old Jalen Hurts as its starting QB this season after flirting with multiple potential deals featuring Deshaun Watson and others.

Matt Ryan has started every opener for the Falcons since 2008 when Hurts was all of 10. Nick Saban built a QB Factory in Tuscaloosa. Hurts joins former Crimson Tide teammates Jones and Tua as Week 1 starters. Meanwhile, Philly has failed to cover 60.6% of the time since 2019. Saban can’t fix everything. Squawk. Atlanta -3.5. Best Bet: Falcons -3.5 at DraftKings

Check out Falcons vs. Eagles odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Seattle at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (FOX)

The 2021 Colts horseshoe is already upside down. Wentz has done the impossible and generated as much animosity in Indianapolis in four months than he did in five seasons in Philadelphia. There may be buyer’s remorse creeping into Colts front office. Wentz has yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and, thus, remains a liability given the restrictive policies and protocol the NFL laid down for unvaccinated players. He’s currently on the COVID-19 restricted list and may or may not be able to play in Week 1.

If Wentz can’t play, the Colts will go with 23-year-old rookie Jacob Eason. Seattle QB Russell Wilson doesn’t horse around. The NFC West could be the toughest division in the NFL this year, and Seattle needs to take the easy ones. This line has swung nearly 6 points since it dropped in May. The Colts opened as 3-point favorites. They are now 2.5-point underdogs. It will be hard for even Pete Carroll to screw this one up. Best Bet: Seattle ML -140 at Caesars.

Check out Colts vs. Seahawks odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Jaguars at Texans, 1 p.m. (CBS)

The Trevor Lawrence Era begins in Houston. It may end someday in London. No matter where the Jaguars play their home games for the next decade plus, Lawrence will be their quarterback. Hope he likes afternoon tea. Lawrence carries so much potential that Urban Meyer decided to stop spending so much time with his family and returned to coaching to lead the Jaguars.

Urban quickly learned the difference between Jacksonville and Gainesville is much more than a one-hour drive when he said the unspeakable. No, he did not say “Candyman” five times into the mirror. Rather, he tempted a much darker fate by saying COVID-19 vaccination status was a factor in roster-making decisions. The Jaguars eventually walked that one back. Now, they can get back that 15-game losing streak. Best Bet: Houston ML +140 at Caesars.

Check out Texans vs. Jaguars odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

LA Chargers at Washington, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Fear The Beard. Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over Washington’s offense. This will be his ninth team in 18 NFL seasons. As a spot starter for the Dolphins, FitzMagic completed 68.5% for 2,091 yards and 13 TDs last year. Fitzpatrick, at 38, is 15 years older than Chargers QB Justin Herbert. The 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Herbert put up some impressive numbers last year: 4336 yards passing, 31 TDs and a 66.6% completion rate. But many of those throws came in games that carried no meaning in terms of impacting the postseason. Or, as we used to call it, “garbage time.”

The Team To Be Named Later features a wicked defensive front, led by 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young. Defense wins championships, or at least covers as 1.5-point home underdogs. Best Bet: Washington ML +100 at FanDuel.

Check out Chargers vs. Washington odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Arizona at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

If this game was being played in Week 11 instead of Week 1, the total would be closer to 60 rather than 52. Both the Titans and Cardinals feature Category 5 offenses. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins seem to pull of one or two impossible completions each week. Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill can either throw to Julio Jones, launch it deep to A.J. Brown or simply hand it off to Derrick Henry.

The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Henry gained 1.1517 miles last season and scored 17 rushing touchdowns on the way to NFL Offensive Player of the Year Honors. The Titans are favored to repeat in the AFC South. To do that, they’ll have to win games like this. Covering wouldn’t hurt, either. Best Bet: Titans -3 at FanDuel.

Check out Cardinals vs. Titans odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Green Bay vs. New Orleans (Jacksonville), 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

This game was moved from New Orleans to Jacksonville because of the damage and clean-up left behind in the Cresent City by Hurricane Ida. Jameis Winston will be the first Opening Week quarterback for the Saints not named Drew Brees since 2005. Even before Ida, both the Saints and Packers dealt with maelstrom of issues this offseason.

Aaron Rodgers was an on-again, off-again quarterback until the start of training camp. At one point in the spring, it appeared Rodgers was a likely to be the new host of “Jeopardy” as he would be starting for the Packers in 2021. All parties involved came to their senses, except the folks in charge of “Jeopardy.”

They’re now without a full-time regular host or an executive producer. Perhaps the Packers and Saints can both blossom now that the regular season is upon us. This line opened with the Saints as 4-point favorites, but the return of Rodgers flipped it. Best Bet: Total over 50 at TwinSpires.

Check out Packers vs. Saints odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Denver at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

The Broncos begin their version of the Teddy Bridgewater Era at MetLife Stadium. Meanwhile, the G-Men may be down to their final 68 quarters when it comes to Danny Dimes. Better known to his mom as Daniel Jones. Taken with the sixth overall pick in 2019, Jones has yet to sniff his Draft Day potential. Or perhaps he’s already reached it.

The line has shifted two points in the Broncos favor. Denver is now a 3-point favorite. A pair of untested, still-under-construction offenses (Saquon Barkley’s status is not certain) and a stout Denver defense points to the visitors in a low-scoring affair. Best Bet: Denver -2.5 at TwinSpires.

Check out Broncos vs. Giants odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Miami at New England, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

This week’s version of The Saban Bowl features Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa in the first of what will likely be many AFC East clashes. The Jones Era begins what millions of Patriots fans hope is another dynastic run in New England. The Patriots self-immolated in Year 1 AT (After Tom), but Belichick smashed the cookie jar and dropped more than $160 million in guaranteed money on free agents this offseason.

Belichick regained his Darth Hoodie footing this summer by unceremoniously waiving Cam Newton. Jones make his pro debut against a Dolphins defense constructed by head coach Brian Flores, whose coaching DNA traces back to New England. The Patriots are a 2.5-point favorite in a game (playing Miami at home early in the season) they traditionally win with ease. Best Bet: Patriots ML -145 at PointsBet.

Check out Dolphins vs. Patriots odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Cleveland at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

#HenneThingIsPossible A potential AFC Championship Game preview in Week 1. How cool is that? The Chiefs knocked Cleveland out of the playoffs last season 22-17 after future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Chad Henne took over for concussed Patrick Mahomes II. The Chiefs nearly blew a 19-3 lead but pulled off a gusty fourth-down conversion to advance.

Odell Beckham Jr. is back for the Browns this year. And Baker Mayfield. The Chiefs tore up and rebuilt their offensive line after Mahomes was devoured in the Super Bowl. The Browns defense could be the difference in this one, even though each of the past six KC home openers has gone over the total. Best Bet: Cleveland +6 at PointsBet.

Check out Browns vs. Chiefs odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Chicago at LA Rams, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

The first NFL regular-season game with fans at SoFi Stadium will be a nightmare for stadium security, Andy Dalton and the Bears. A local kickoff time of 5:20 p.m. will allow for plenty of pre-game lubrication in the parking lot. NBC must have thought the Bears were going to end up with Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers at QB when choosing to showcase this game in the coveted Week 1 Sunday night slot.

The Rams are among the top-tier teams in NFC championship futures markets. Stafford is a major upgrade over Goff in terms of play-making ability. If the Rams offense can keep up with their defense, this one could be un-bearable to watch. Best Bet: Rams -7 at PointsBet.

Check out Bears vs. Rams odds, betting lines, injury report and more.

Monday, Sept. 13

Baltimore at Las Vegas, 8:15 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)

About 24 hours after regular-season NFL fans break-in SoFi Stadium in LA, they’ll christen Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. If the Raiders expect to overachieve this season, home-field advantage in this desert dome will be critical. And the Vegas Silver and Black could potentially have the loudest, if not most lethal, fans in the NFL.

Expect Raider Nation to travel well from Oakland and Los Angeles. The biggest news out of Vegas this week was that Raiders owner Mark Davis, who hit Lotto in the “Thanks, Dad” Club, is building a $14 million, 15,000-square-foot mansion outside Las Vegas that will look just like his team’s stadium and practice facility. Somewhere, there is a back-up at a Wendy’s drive-through that would not exist if Davis had been born to Val Davis instead of Al Davis. Best Bet: Raiders +4.5 at BetMGM.

Check out Ravens vs. Raiders odds, betting lines, injury report and more.