MIAMI @ NEW ENGLAND | 09/12 | 4:25 PM EDT
ANALYSIS: This line has grown since Mac Jones was named the starter for the Patriots, which is a little wild when you consider he's making his first career start as the fifth QB drafted in April and doing it against a premium secondary with a head coach who knows this team very well in Brian Flores. I think if you can catch a field goal in this matchup, I like backing the Dolphins, especially with Stephon Gilmore unavailable for the Patriots. One other consideration: the Pats are going with a rookie UDFA kicker who struggled even at the collegiate level, and the Dolphins' big edge at the position could be the difference but isn't really being factored into the line.
DALLAS @ TAMPA BAY | 09/09 | 8:20 PM EDT
TAMPA BAY -8
ANALYSIS: I initially thought this line was where it should be based on my power ratings but was giving the edge to the Bucs with defending champs going 14-6 ATS in their last 20 Week 1 games. I had hoped good Dak Prescott news would move the line down to Bucs -7 and give us an even bigger edge, but it's instead ticked the other way after Zack Martin was ruled out due to a positive COVID-19 test. Consider that a preview of the unpredictable nature of the 2021 NFL season, where sudden, unexpected player absences will wreak havoc on line movement expectations. I'm still laying it with the Bucs and think they win by 10-plus here.
GREEN BAY @ NEW ORLEANS | 09/12 | 4:25 PM EDT
GREEN BAY -4
ANALYSIS: After we found out Aaron Rodgers wasn't leaving Green Bay, this line sat at Packers -3 for much of the preseason. After we found out it would be played in Jacksonville instead of New Orleans, it was rehung at Packers -4. As much as I've harped on home-field advantage not being worth three points, it's certainly worth more than one, particularly for a team like the Saints. Throw in the disruption of their regular routine by being on the road for the foreseeable future due to Hurricane Ida, along with Michael Thomas' injury leaving New Orleans shorthanded at receiver, and this line looks several points light to me.
CLEVELAND @ KANSAS CITY | 09/12 | 4:25 PM EDT
KANSAS CITY -6
ANALYSIS: No matter how optimistic you are about the Browns, I just don't think this line makes much sense. Yes, the last time these two teams took the field in January, the Browns only lost by five points, but Patrick Mahomes left that game with a concussion and the Chiefs offense still rolled up 438 yards and probably should have put more points on the board. Now, they head into the season much stronger on the offensive line, negating the Browns' upgrades defensively. If Kansas City gets on a roll in the first half, I'm not sure the Browns passing offense will be able to lead the team back, especially with Odell Beckham's health an open question.
L.A. CHARGERS @ WASHINGTON | 09/12 | 1:00 PM EDT
ANALYSIS: The Chargers travel cross-country to play Washington in Week 1 with a relative unknown at head coach in Brandon Staley. The Coach of the Year market suggests Staley might be a pretty good coach, but at this point, who knows if he's Matt LaFleur, Zac Taylor or something in between. While Justin Herbert looks like a star in the making, his situation is different from LaFleur getting a future HOF QB to help ease his transition. Washington's defense really shined in the back half of last season, and with the team's upgrade at QB, they appear to be underrated heading into Week 1 as home 'dogs, even with Washington not having much of a home-field advantage in recent years.
JACKSONVILLE @ HOUSTON | 09/12 | 1:00 PM EDT
ANALYSIS: The market is predicting Houston will be the worst team in the league this year. And maybe they're right; the Texans certainly seem willing to trade veterans for picks and plan for the future. But it's not often you're able to catch points against the previous year's worst team in Week 1 with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Throw in Urban Meyer doing little to inspire confidence over the summer, and the only way this line makes sense is if the Texans are historically bad. I'll have to see that to believe it; remember that Tyrod Taylor posted a winning record with a mediocre Bills roster in two of three years by limiting mistakes. Against this defense, the Texans are certainly a live dog.
JACKSONVILLE @ HOUSTON | 09/12 | 1:00 PM EDT
ANALYSIS: Here's a matchup of two teams with bad defenses and next to no expectations for a successful season. So why is this total only 45? It probably has to do with the public hating Houston this year, and while I get the roster is one of the least talented in the league, that doesn't mean they'll be stopped by a Jaguars defense that allowed more than 30 points per game last year. After their shocking win over Indy in Week 1, the Jags only held one opponent under 27 points the rest of the year. A market-projected score of 24-21 is giving the Jacksonville defense too much credit, making the Over a nice value play here.
DENVER @ N.Y. GIANTS | 09/12 | 4:25 PM EDT
ANALYSIS: I feel like I'm going to be on a lot of Giants Unders this year, thanks to their quality defense and questions on offense, particularly in the trenches. I also think people will be looking to play Unders in Broncos games too, with Teddy Bridgewater belonging to the lower tier of NFL starting QBs and Von Miller back in action after missing last season. Here, we get those two teams playing each other, and the Giants have had to deal with injured or recovering skill players all throughout the preseason. This game has "first team to 20 wins" written all over it.
SEATTLE @ INDIANAPOLIS | 09/12 | 1:00 PM EDT
ANALYSIS: The Colts are starting to feel like the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles, and not just because of the guy under center. The Eagles had high expectations last year but dealt with a string of injuries before the season, even more early in the year and ultimately collapsed. Time will tell if the Colts can weather the storm, but with T.Y. Hilton out, left tackle a question mark and Carson Wentz barely practicing with the first unit before kickoff of this game, I can't help but think points will be hard to come by for Indy, especially after the Seahawks defense largely dominated last year after the acquisition of Jamal Adams. Seattle won't open up the fireworks if they don't have to, so expect a low score.