A game-by-game betting preview (against the spread) for each of the 15 NFL games on Sunday and Monday in Week 1. Here are the teams to pick and the ones to stay away from.
Locks of the Week
These NFC South favorites are on the road, but should cover low numbers against a pair of teams with first-year coaches and quarterbacks coming off down 2011 seasons.
Panthers (-3) at Buccaneers
Cam Newton and Carolina crushed Tampa Bay twice last season — winning 38–19 in the Bucs’ boat in Week 13 and then 48–16 in Cat country in Week 16. Expect the Panthers to ruin Greg Schiano’s debut in the Bay.
Falcons (-3) at Chiefs
Atlanta’s “Matty Ice” Ryan takes on K.C.’s Matt “On Thin Ice” Cassel. The atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium won’t be enough to slow down the Dirty Birds’ aerial attack led by Julio Jones, Roddy White and former Chief legend Tony Gonzalez.
Don’t be afraid of a big spread. Last season, 10 of the 16 games in Week 1 were decided by eight or more points. Take advantage of wide margins of victory before the market adjusts.
Saints (-7.5) vs. Redskins
New Orleans’ Drew Brees will be a fantasy stud, while Washington’s Robert Griffin III learns the harsh reality of the NFL.
Lions (-7.5) vs. Rams
St. Louis lost by at least 7.5 points in nine of its 14 defeats last season. Ram tough coach Jeff Fisher will attempt to squeeze the air out of the ball, but his O-line won’t be able to keep Sam Bradford upright long enough to move the chains and keep the clock running.
Eagles (-9.5) at Browns
Mike Vick at the Dawg Pound?
Bears (-10) vs. Colts
Andrew Luck’s debut will be no match for Jay Cutler’s reunion with Brandon Marshall.
Straight Up Upsets
These underdogs don’t look as good as Kate Upton’s Twitter pics, but they look good.
Steelers (+2) at Broncos
Peyton Manning will need the grace of Tim Tebow to take down the Steel Curtain under the lights on Sunday night.
Bills (+3) at Jets
Gang Green’s locker room cancer will spread if New York, New York loses to upstate New York.
Stay away completely. These games are meant for local yokels who always bet on their home team, or who for degenerates who always have to have action.
Seahawks (-3) at Cardinals
For the birds.
Vikings (-4) vs. Jaguars
Bad teams, second-year quarterbacks, running backs with no preseason…
Packers (-5) vs. 49ers
Enjoy this strength vs. strength (Green Bay O vs. San Fran D) potential NFC title game matchup — but don’t bet on it.
Patriots (-6) at Titans
Tom Terrific will be fine, but a young Patriots defense may allow more points in a closer-than-expected opener.
Texans (-12.5) vs. Dolphins
Could be the first of many weeks where the Fins are nearly two-TD dogs.
There are two games to wager for those who have to “get back” or “let it ride” this week.
Raiders (-1) vs. Chargers
A coin-toss contest. The Bolts are 1–3 against the Silver-and-Black over the past two seasons. “Just win, baby.”
Ravens (-6.5) vs. Bengals
Baltimore beat Cincy twice last season — taking a 31–24 win in the town the late Art Modell called home in Week 11 and a 24–16 triumph in the state Mr. Modell left in Week 17.