Week 1 of the NFL season represents the best chance for each fan base to feel great about the coming year. Even Jets fans are able to think positively that their team will not finish the year 0-16.
Most weeks of the season, there are opportunities to wager on teams based on situation alone. That usually isn't the case on the first Sunday. I like to look at the preseason results, but I won't make too much of them because most teams go really vanilla or don't even care at all.
I try and keep the number of plays per week to three or four because Vegas is usually on point when it comes to the NFL. Oddsmakers have so much information that these lines are really hard to beat on a consistent basis. With that let's look at Week 1's selections.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. Flacco was back at practice this week and that's good news for a Baltimore team that has had bad luck already with the injuries. They have placed RB Kenneth Dixon and TE Crockett Gilmore on injured reserve already. I question the lack of weapons even against a Bengals defense that will be without LB Vontaze Burfict and CB Adam Jones. Cincinnati’s offense is a rotation of running backs and A.J. Green, who always seems to get open against the Ravens. Baltimore's front seven is pretty stout and will need to be with a vulnerable group of corners once again. These two teams have played three straight unders including a 27-10 Bengals win at home last season. The series as a whole has seen 24 unders in the last 42 meetings. The Bengals have gone under in 10 of their last 16 home games while the Ravens have gone under in 17 of their last 32 overall. Selection: Under 42.5
Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
The defending NFC champions begin their season on the road in Chicago on Sunday. Atlanta didn't make a ton of changes this offseason outside of adding Dontari Poe to the defensive line. The Falcons did lose some depth in other areas of the defense, especially linebacker. We know how good the pitch-and-catch combo of Matt Ryan to Julio Jones is and that will be number one on the Bears’ scouting report. Chicago's defense should improve upon its poor numbers from 2016, especially against the run. The Bears have added some decent corners in Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamura. Offensively is where the challenges could come as WR Cameron Meredith is out for the season with a torn ACL. Mike Glennon is holding off Mitch Trubisky at quarterback so he'll need to start fast. Running back Jordan Howard had a great rookie year for Chicago. Atlanta has not been a great favorite as of late, covering just eight of its last 21 in this situation. The Bears have actually covered in 11 of their last 18 games as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points. I think they are a live dog in this one. Selection: Bears +7
Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET
In one of the least inspiring quarterback matchups of the weekend, you've got Jared Goff against Scott Tolzien. Andrew Luck is out for this one and that means Indianapolis’ offense is going to be in for a real struggle. Center Ryan Kelly also is out so that will make things difficult against a stout Rams pass rush even without All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald. The Colts’ defense is going to have its own issues without the services of top cornerback Vontae Davis. The problem is that I don't know how the Rams take advantage. New Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay is going to do wonders with Goff, but who is he throwing to other than Sammy Watkins? Will Todd Gurley find holes that weren’t there last year? The Rams have gone under in 21 of their last 32 games including seven of their last eight non-conference games. Selection: Under 42
— I came really close to taking the Redskins, but I wasn't sure if it was my Eagles’ jaded fandom or a dose of reality. The line has moved towards the road team heavily going from WAS -3 to PHI -1.5 in some places. I watched the Skins during training camp and saw a team that I thought was capable of winning this one at home. Apparently, the steam is going against that so I'll sit this out.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.