- NFL football is back.
- The Chiefs and Texans kick off the action in Kansas City on Thursday night, followed up by a full slate of games on Sunday.
- Once again, we're picking every game of the week against the spread with the hopes of making a little money.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
After what will likely go down as the strangest offseason in NFL history, football is officially back.
The Chiefs and Texans kick off the action in Kansas City on Thursday night, followed up by a full slate of games on Sunday.
To celebrate, we're once again picking every game on the schedule against the spread, with the hopes of enjoying some good ol' fashioned gambling — and maybe making some money along the way.
Given the circumstances of the season, it's a tough year to predict. With teams taking part in only an abridged training camp with limited contact, we're bound to see a few ugly football games to start the year as players find their stride on the field. Still, football is back, and where there is football, there are bets to be made.
Last season was a winning one for our picks, as we went 125-111-4 against the spread over 17 weeks of NFL football. Let's see if we can improve on that for this year.
Take a look below at our best bets against the spread for Week 1 of the NFL season (* indicates home team).
LAST SEASON: 125-111-4
Houston Texans (+9) over Kansas City Chiefs*
If you want to just enjoy the return of NFL football, my suggestion is just to bet the over in this game and cheer for points. But since it's my solemn duty to pick every game against the spread, we're backing the Texans here.
The Chiefs offense is still an astounding force in the league, and the team is returning 20 of the 22 starters that won the Super Bowl back in February, but the Texans can score plenty of points as well, and Houston will be looking for vengeance after Kansas City embarrassed them in the playoffs last season. Even if the Chiefs leave with the win, the Texans should be able to do enough to keep this game within the number.
Miami Dolphins (+6.5) over New England Patriots*
The Miami Dolphins fought through a dismal 0-7 start to the season last year to win five of their final nine games, including their season finale against the Patriots.
This year, the Dolphins are better across the board, and the team appeared to buy into head coach Brian Flores' game plan halfway through the 2019 season.
It always feels foolish to bet against Bill Belichick, especially when he has something to prove, but this line feels too long for a game that should be pretty closely contested.
Cleveland Browns (+8) over Baltimore Ravens*
Again, this is just too many points. The Browns split their games with the Ravens in 2019, and have plenty to prove after a disappointing season last year. A surprise win over the reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson could be in order.
Buffalo Bills* (-6.5) over New York Jets
With Tom Brady finally out of the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills have a decent shot at winning their division for the first time since 1995. Facing off against the dismal New York Jets to open their season, look for Buffalo to come out with a statement game. This one shouldn't be close.
Las Vegas Raiders (-3) over Carolina Panthers*
The Carolina Panthers picked a rough year to rebuild. New head coach Matt Rhule had to make the jump from college to the NFL in the middle of a pandemic, undoubtedly making the already difficult transition even more daunting.
The Panthers are going to need a few games to get their legs under them, and the Raiders should have enough fire power to take care of business in Week 1.
Atlanta Falcons* (+2.5) over Seattle Seahawks
This one feels like a toss-up, but the Atlanta Falcons have underperformed for two straight seasons, and I don't see it happening a third time. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley is a lot of offense for the Seahawks defense to handle, so we're going to take the two points Las Vegas is giving us and hope Atlanta can squeak one out.
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) over Washington Football Team*
A few injuries to the Philadelphia offensive line has me concerned about what rookie defensive end Chase Young has in store for his first ever NFL game, but the Eagles should still be able to take care of business here.
Last year, the Eagles opened their season against Washington and immediately went down 17-0 before coming back in the second half to win.
Let's hope they don't get off to a similar slow start this year.
Detroit Lions* (-3) over Chicago Bears
Had the Chicago Bears picked Nick Foles to be their starting quarterback for Week 1, I would have been all over them in this spot. Instead, they're backing Mitch Trubisky once again, making this decision an easy one.
If Mitch Trubisky wants to take my money, he can come right along and take it.
Indianapolis Colts (-8) over Jacksonville Jaguars*
The Jacksonville Jaguars are an absolute mess, with players leaving left and right. Indianapolis is a good team that just upgraded at quarterback and is looking to show the league that they're a contender.
If Phillip Rivers can find his rhythm, this one could get ugly.
Green Bay Packers (+2.5) over Minnesota Vikings*
Aaron Rodgers is probably still pretty mad at the Packers front office for drafting his potential successor in the first round of the NFL Draft this year, rather than a weapon that can help his offense win now.
I like betting Rodgers when he's angry, especially if he's at home as a short underdog against a division rival.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals*
I love Joe Burrow as much as the next college football fan, and wish him only the best in his career. That said, I don't see his tenure with the Bengals getting off to a storybook beginning.
The Chargers are talented across their roster, with a menacing pass-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa ready to give Burrow a hearty welcome to the league. New quarterback Tyrod Taylor should bring some pop to the Chargers offense as well.
Arizona Cardinals (+6.5) over San Francisco 49ers*
San Francisco is returning the majority of a roster that nearly won the Super Bowl last season, but the Arizona Cardinals are too much fun to pass up. Kyler Murray has had another year to develop, and the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins gives him his most dangerous weapon yet.
The Cardinals are a must-watch team for any football fan this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) over New Orleans Saints*
As much as my head is telling me to back the Saints here, my heart is telling me to go with the Buccaneers.
I'd rather lose money on Tampa Bay than feel like an idiot betting against Tom Brady in his first week with his new team.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) over Los Angeles Rams*
I think the Dallas Cowboys are going to finish the year as the top seed in the NFC, and that journey has to start with a win in Week 1.
That said, both of these teams are talented, and the Rams could certainly find their 2018 stride and put up some numbers. This is another one where your best bet might just be to bet the over and enjoy the show.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) over New York Giants*
Ben Roethlisberger is back from injury and looking to prove that he still has some arm left despite nearing 40 years of age. The Steelers have plenty of talent on offense for him to take advantage of, and the Giants have a defense that looks ready to be cut through like a hot knife through butter.
Denver Broncos* (+2.5) over Tennessee Titans
In the early weeks of the season, it's always a good idea to bet the Denver Broncos at home, as opponents who are still playing themselves into game shape are prone to struggling with the thin air of Mile High Stadium. This phenomenon should hold true this year, as the abridged offseason could leave players even further from peak fitness heading into Week 1.
Beyond that, second-year quarterback Drew Lock is hoping for a potential breakout year, and has one of the most compelling young receiving groups in the league to help him make it happen.
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