NFL betting: Colts are the biggest Week 1 favorite
The NFL released its regular season schedule on Thursday night which in turn gave us a full slate of Week 1 games to look forward to. While we're still about four months away from kickoff, betting lines for the first week of action have already been posted. Who are the oddsmakers projecting to win in Week 1? What are the most intriguing games on the schedule from a betting perspective?
Only one spread over a touchdown
In Week 1 of the NFL season, five spreads are currently set at a field goal or lower. Of 16 games in Week 1, 15 of them currently have a spread lower than a touchdown. Both conferences feel wide open with a multitude of teams capable of challenging for the playoffs in both the AFC and NFC. The original lines for Week 1 suggest a league with an increased amount of parity.
The only team favored by more than a touchdown in Week 1 is the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are 7.5-point road favorites in Houston against the Texans. Both teams missed the playoffs last season, but the Colts finished with five more wins than their division rivals. Indianapolis enters with an assumed upgrade at quarterback, going from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan in the offseason.
The second-largest spread comes in the Titans-Giants game, where Tennessee is a 6.5-point home favorite. The Titans finished last season as the top seed in the AFC before a disappointing playoff showing in the divisional round against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brian Daboll enters his first season as the coach of the Giants, and he's a current co-favorite to win the Coach of the Year award.
Other notable games
There's no shortage of intriguing games on the Week 1 schedule. What are oddsmakers saying about some marquee games that kick off the season?
Buffalo vs. L.A. Rams
The season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 8 with the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills. The Rams have opened as 1-point favorites, but there are places where the Bills are listed as the slight favorite. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and company have their hands full in the first game of their title defense with Josh Allen coming to town. The total opened at 52.5 points, the second highest of Week 1 behind the Chiefs-Cardinals matchup.
Cleveland vs. Carolina
The Browns-Panthers game is intriguing because it offers potential early value if you could predict the quarterback future of these teams. The Browns are 4.5-point favorites on the road, which feels rather steep if Jacoby Brissett is under center. It also doesn't feel steep enough if Deshaun Watson avoids suspension. The Carolina Panthers have been one of the teams linked to Baker Mayfield. Is there a chance the current, soon-to-be former Browns quarterback goes up against the team that drafted him in Week 1? Those that appreciate Mayfield's "chip on the shoulder" attitude would love that.
Las Vegas vs. L.A. Chargers
The AFC West is the most intriguing division in football. The Raiders are coming off a season where they made the playoffs, but most are projecting them to finish at the bottom of the division. The Chargers are the offseason hype darling this year, and Los Angeles is a 4-point favorite at home over the Raiders. Is this the year the Chargers finally play to their potential?
Green Bay vs. Minnesota
Davante Adams is gone, but the Green Bay Packers are still prohibitive favorites to win the NFC North. Their biggest competition will likely come from the Minnesota Vikings. The two teams meet in Week 1, with Green Bay installed as a 1.5-point road favorite over the Vikings. It's a short price on Green Bay, and the Packers were money for bettors in spots like this last season.
Tampa Bay vs. Dallas
Two of the NFC's top teams will meet in Dallas on "Sunday Night Football." This matchup is much more appealing now that Tom Brady ended his retirement. Brady and the Buccaneers open as 2.5-point favorites in Dallas to begin the season. These teams played in Week 1 to open the season in 2021. The Buccaneers were 7.5-point home favorites, and won the game, 31-29, but failed to cover the spread. It's worth noting that game was in Tampa Bay.
Denver vs. Seattle
Russell Wilson gets his return to Seattle out of the way nice and early. Wilson and the Broncos are expected to be contenders in the AFC West, but the same can't be said about his former team in Seattle. The looming camp battle between Drew Lock and Geno Smith isn't inspiring confidence, but Denver is just a 3.5-point road favorite in the first Monday night game of the season.
Kansas City (-3) @ Arizona
Philadelphia (-3.5) @ Detroit
Jacksonville @ Washington (-4.5)
San Francisco (-6) @ Chicago
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-6)
New England @ Miami (-3)
New Orleans (-3.5) @ Atlanta
Baltimore (-4.5) @ NY Jets