NFL Week 1 Betting Guide

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From when the NFL kicks off on Thursday night in Kansas City, to the moment it crowns its champion in Las Vegas next February, there will be a total of 285 games of NFL football. 

There are 1,696 players on 53-man rosters, playing at any given time in those 285 games, and it can be a lot to track. That’s where we and the bookmakers at come in. We are here to make sense of it all for the next 22 weeks.

Mismatches to Exploit

The Detroit Lions are everyone’s darling heading into this season, and for good reason. They are going to be a good team with a chance to win the NFC North for the first time in 30 years. (It was the NFC Central the last time they won it.)

But they are missing wide receiver Jameson Williams for this game (and the five games to follow), and they are facing a team that will hang a championship banner in front of 78,000 screaming fans. The Kansas City Chiefs are 9-1 in Week 1 games since Andy Reid became the head coach, and they are 5-0 in Week 1 games that are started by Patrick Mahomes.

Not only does Kansas City win its season-openers, it wins by an average of 13 points. Four of their five Week 1 wins with Mahomes have been by double digits, which is why the Chiefs at -6.5 is a very good bet.

A fully healthy Lamar Jackson and his new complement of wide receivers is another matchup you should pay attention to. The Baltimore Ravens are the biggest favorite of the week, at -10. But they are also in line to put together the biggest win of the week.

They are facing a rookie quarterback in C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans, and a rookie head coach in DeMeco Ryans, and that is exploitable.

Remember how quickly Jackson and the Ravens got things working last year? They beat the Jets by 15 points in Week 1, and in Week 3 they beat the Patriots by 11. This Texans team is not as good as either of those teams, and this Ravens team is better than it was a year ago.

Baltimore is a heavy favorite worth backing.

Underdogs to Consider

The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the best teams in football, and they are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl for very good reasons. But consider how last year began after Joe Burrow missed all of the preseason following an appendectomy. The Bengals started off very slow, losing their first two games.

Fast forward a year, and Burrow has once again missed the entire preseason, this time because of a calf injury. They are on the road to start the season against a good Cleveland Browns team that has beaten Cincy in five of their last six meetings. 

Cleveland is getting 2.5 points in this game, and they are a good candidate to win it outright.

The other home underdog worth considering is also in the AFC North. The Pittsburgh Steelers host the San Francisco 49ers, and the Niners are favored by 2.5 points. You should be cautious about the 49ers because this is Brock Purdy’s first real game since he blew out his elbow, and it looks like the holdout of Nick Bosa is going to extend into the regular season.

You should be bullish about the Steelers because last year they were home underdogs to begin the season, and they won. And this year the team is considerably better. They have a better offensive line, quarterback Kenny Pickett has a full year of learning the NFL under his belt, and unlike the 49ers, the Steelers best defensive player, T.J. Watt, is playing.

Injuries to Consider

The Miami Dolphins are going to be without cornerback Jalen Ramsey for most of the season. Against a high-powered offense like the Los Angeles Chargers (-3), that could be a problem. Kellen Moore is the new offensive coordinator in L.A., and look for him to have quarterback Justin Herbert going deep to take advantage.

The Dolphins also go into Sunday’s game at SoFi Stadium with a banged up Jaylen Waddle. He’s been fighting a “midsection” injury for the last three weeks, and is at risk of reinjuring it.

The Washington Commanders are touchdown favorites against the Arizona Cardinals, but they are likely going to play without wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who has turf toe.

Rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba has returned to practice since he had surgery to repair his broken wrist. But don’t be surprised if the Seattle Seahawks keep him on the sideline for a week or two. has the Seahawks as 5.5-point favorites at home against the Los Angeles Rams.

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