Our long wait will come to an end on Thursday night with the NFL Kickoff Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Week 1 of the season has arrived and the reigning champs will take on a team that many people like to come out of the NFC East as the division champion.
There are some intriguing Week 1 betting trends to consider as we dig into the first regular season card of the year.
Let’s take a look at all 16 games on the slate and point out some of the most notable trends:
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8, 51.5)
The Cowboys went 6-10 straight up (SU) and 5-11 against the spread (ATS) last season, as most of the games were played without QB Dak Prescott.
The Buccaneers were 11-5 SU in the regular season and won all four playoff games to lift the Lombardi Trophy. They were 12-8 ATS between the regular season and playoffs.
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Prescott's return is the biggest story in this game, but the odds movement tells us that some rust is to be expected from the Dallas signal caller. The line has moved from -6 up to -8 in recent days. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are the consensus best team in the NFC and this is a stout defense for Dak to return against.
- Dallas is 2-5 ATS in Week 1 over the last seven seasons
- Dallas is 2-8 ATS in the last 10 road games
- Dallas is 1-4 ATS in the last five as a road underdog
- Tampa Bay was 11-3 SU as a favorite last season
- Tampa Bay was 6-3 ATS with a margin of victory (MOV) of 6.6 points at home last season
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-6.5, 48.5)
The Steelers had a solid 12-5 SU season last year with a 10-7 ATS mark.
The Bills had a really strong season going 15-4 SU and 12-7 ATS. They lost to Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game to end the playoff dream.
Josh Allen has been taking a lot of NFL MVP action, as VSiN's Ben Fawkes tweeted about on Monday morning. Excitement levels for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger are much, much lower. The Bills are thought to be in the same range as the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC, so this is a game that will tell us a lot about Pittsburgh's ability to compete with the conference's best.
Buffalo, meanwhile, is looking to build off of the team's first AFC East title since 1995. With the line at 6.5 or 6, a lot of teaser liability for the sportsbooks will be on Buffalo teased down to PK or -0.5.
- Pittsburgh is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 as a road underdog
- Pittsburgh is just 3-7 ATS in the last 10 Week 1 games
- Buffalo was dominant at home last season, going 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS
- Buffalo is 12-4 ATS in the last 16 Week 1 games
- Buffalo is 5-1 ATS in the last six games as a favorite
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (-5.5, 45)
The Jets wound up with a 2-14 SU record and a 6-10 ATS mark. The prize for that level of futility was BYU QB Zach Wilson.
The Panthers wound up with a 5-11 SU record and a 9-7 ATS record last season.
All eyes will be on Wilson and the Jets offense here, but these personal revenge games are always fun to follow. Sam Darnold will face his former team as the new Panthers starter and many believe that Darnold has a new lease on life playing for a brilliant offensive mind like Joe Brady.
Robert Saleh's claim to fame is on the defensive side, so we'll see what Brady's offense has in store for the Jets. This is one of the bigger favorite lines that Carolina will see this season.
- The Jets are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 road games
- New York is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 September games
- The Jets are 17-29-4 ATS in their last 50 games against NFC teams
- Carolina is 5-2 ATS at home in the last seven games against AFC opponents
- The Panthers are 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games as a favorite
Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5, 44.5) at Houston Texans
Even though the Jaguars went just 1-15 SU last season, they are favored to open the 2021 season against the Texans. Jacksonville went 7-9 ATS in 2020.
The Houston Texans begin life without Deshaun Watson coming off of a season with a 4-12 SU record and a 6-10 ATS mark.
Trevor Lawrence will go up against Tyrod Taylor here, as the #1 overall pick takes on a QB that has played 72 games with four different times. Taylor will add a fifth here in his Texans debut, as Watson remains on the inactive list.
Skepticism about the Jaguars under Urban Meyer can be found in just about every sector of the betting market, but this is a line that illustrates just how bad the Texans are supposed to be this season.
- Jacksonville was 0-8 SU and 4-4 ATS on the road last season
- The Jaguars are 5-2 ATS in their last seven against division opponents in the AFC South
- The under is 5-1 in Jacksonville’s last six games as a favorite
- The under is 5-1 in Houston’s last six games as an underdog
- Houston was 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS as a home underdog last season
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (-3, 52.5)
The Cardinals finished up last season with an 8-8 SU record and a 7-9 ATS record.
The Titans were 11-6 SU with a loss to Baltimore in the Wild Card Round and a record of 7-10 ATS.
This line may look pretty short to a lot of bettors out there. Tennessee had that impressive run in 2019 and followed it up with a division title and another playoff appearance in 2020. The Cardinals have not really accomplished that much, though Kyler Murray is an extremely exciting player.
There are some questions about the Titans offense without offensive coordinator Arthur Smith because Tennessee's path to victory is to outscore the opposition. The Titans defense still looks like a weak link and maybe one that Arizona can exploit.
- Arizona is 6-9 ATS in the last 15 games as a road underdog of seven or fewer points
- The Cardinals are 9-6 to the under in their last 15 season openers
- Tennessee is 5-1-2 ATS in its last eight home games against the NFC West
- The Titans are also 9-4-2 ATS in the last 15 games overall against NFC West opponents
- Tennessee is 11-4 to the over in its last 15 games against the NFC
Los Angeles Chargers (-1, 44.5) at Washington Football Team
The Los Angeles Chargers are a very popular team heading into the season, as most bettors expect them to improve upon the 7-9 SU record from last season. The Chargers were 9-7 ATS.
The Cowboys are a popular choice in the NFC East, but so is the Washington Football Team. Last season resulted in a 7-10 SU record and a 10-7 ATS mark with a brief playoff cameo as the NFC East winner.
Many felt like head coach Anthony Lynn held back the Chargers and Justin Herbert. Herbert's sophomore NFL season begins with a lot of hype and a new head coach in Brandon Staley. This could be a sharp vs. public sort of game based on the action we've seen so far, including Washington as the -1 favorite at some shops at time of writing.
- The Chargers were 3-5 SU on the road, but 5-3 ATS last season
- The Chargers are 6-1-2 ATS in their last nine season openers and also 5-1 to the over in the last six
- Washington was 2-5 SU in a home underdog role last season, but did go 5-2 ATS
- Washington was an underdog in 14 of 17 games last season and went 9-5 ATS in that role, including 5-1 ATS in the last six
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (-3, 48)
The Eagles give the reins to Jalen Hurts to start the season after going 4-11-1 SU and 6-10 ATS in 2020.
Atlanta has a new head coach in Arthur Smith, so we’ll see if they can improve from last season’s 4-12 SU record and 7-9 ATS mark.
The Eagles also have a new head coach in Nick Sirianni. He was Frank Reich's OC in Indianapolis after Reich took the Colts job following Super Bowl LII. Opinions vary greatly on these two teams, as it would seem that both have a wide range of outcomes. This game should tell us a lot about what we can expect.
- Philadelphia was 1-7 SU and ATS on the road last season
- The Eagles are 0-4 ATS in their last four games as a road underdog
- Atlanta was 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS at home last season
- The Falcons were 1-4 ATS as a home favorite in 2020
- Atlanta is 0-5 ATS in the last five Week 1 games
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5, 50) at Indianapolis Colts
The Seahawks had a 12-5 SU record last season and lost in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. They finished with an 8-9 ATS record.
The Colts also lost in the Wild Card Round and finished the season 11-5 SU and 9-8 ATS.
Carson Wentz missed time during the preseason with a foot injury and then a recent stint on the COVID-19 list. Wentz has been reunited with Frank Reich, who was the offensive coordinator in Super Bowl LII when the Eagles beat the Patriots. Of course, that was with Nick Foles as the starter.
Reich still made it a point to push for Wentz as the replacement to Philip Rivers. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have had no QB questions, as Russell Wilson continues to be the go-to guy and perennial MVP candidate in Seattle.
The Wentz situation is the primary reason why we have a flipped favorite here with Seattle now laying a road price in Indy.
- Seattle was 5-3 SU on the road last season, but only 2-6 ATS
- The Seahawks are a road favorite here, a role they were 1-5 ATS in last season
- Indianapolis will be a home underdog for the first time since the 2019 season
- The Colts were 6-2 SU and 3-5 ATS at home last season
- The over is 5-0 in the last five Week 1 games for Indianapolis
San Francisco 49ers (-7.5, 45) at Detroit Lions
The 49ers had an injury-plagued 2020 season and wound up just 6-10 SU and 7-9 ATS.
The Lions had yet another terrible season going 5-11 SU. Detroit was 7-9 ATS as well.
It won't be Trey Lance, but the leash seems to be pretty short for 49ers starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco relies heavily on a very potent running game anyway, but this is a really important spot for Jimmy G against a Lions defense that has been struggling for several years in a row.
The Lions will send Jared Goff out in this one, a QB that the 49ers defense knows very well from his days in Los Angeles. This is the first time since 2008 that Stafford has not been on the Lions roster. Detroit was going to be a home underdog in this game regardless, but you have to think it would be under a touchdown if Stafford was still around.
- San Francisco is 5-2 ATS in its last seven road openers
- The over is 5-2 in San Francisco's last seven games as a favorite of a touchdown or more
- Detroit is 4-11 ATS in the last 15 games as a home underdog
- The Lions are only 5-10 ATS in their last 15 home games
- The over is 12-2-1 in Detroit's last 15 home games
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5, 47.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Vikings went 7-9 SU last season and had just a 6-10 ATS record. They are still listed as a road favorite this week in spite of the down year.
The Bengals lost Joe Burrow to a torn ACL last season and limped to a 4-11-1 SU mark. Cincinnati was feisty against the spread with a 9-7 record.
Minnesota's defense took a nosedive last season, as the Vikings were forced to rely on Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to outscore the opposition. Perhaps this will be a good game for Burrow and the Bengals to ease back into the swing of things, but the #1 overall pick in 2020 did look a bit timid and tentative in the preseason.
The Vikings are laying a road number here despite a pretty low set of expectations. That would seem to say a lot about where Cincinnati sits in the minds of bettors and bookmakers.
- Minnesota is 0-5 ATS in its last five games as a favorite
- Minnesota was 11-5 to the over last season
- Cincinnati was 2-5 SU and 4-3 ATS last season as a home underdog
- The Bengals are 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight Week 1 games
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5, 54.5)
The Browns enter the season with a ton of hype after going 12-6 SU last season with a rare playoff appearance. Cleveland was 8-10 ATS in those 18 games.
The AFC champion Chiefs start their quest to return to the Super Bowl as a home favorite here. Kansas City was 16-3 SU and 8-11 ATS last season, losing in Super Bowl LIV to Tampa Bay.
Playoff revenge will be a big talking point going into this one for Cleveland, but this really is a game to see just how far that they have come, especially on defense. The Browns were active in free agency on that side of the ball and have given Baker Mayfield all the tools to succeed on offense.
The Chiefs were a terrible ATS team late last season, as they seemed to play with their food before eventually eating it. Our last data point for KC was a lifeless effort in the Super Bowl. Will that be a motivating factor here?
Even though the consensus would probably rank Cleveland fourth in the AFC behind Kansas City, Buffalo, and Baltimore, we still see the Chiefs set as a clear-cut favorite. Is the gap still that big?
- Cleveland is 4-1 ATS in the last five games as a road underdog
- The Browns were 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS overall on the road last season
- Kansas City was 8-1 SU, but only 4-5 ATS as a home favorite last season
- The Chiefs are just 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games
- The over is 6-0 in Kansas City’s last six Week 1 games
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-3, 43.5)
Tua Tagovailoa gets the Week 1 start this season as the Dolphins open up against the Patriots. Miami was 10-6 SU with a stellar 11-5 ATS record last season.
Mac Jones will make his regular season debut for the Patriots, who were 7-9 SU and ATS mostly with Cam Newton last year.
The Patriots did the smart thing and avoided the QB controversy of the first-round pick and the seasoned veteran. Newton was released well in advance of this game and Jones was declared the starter.
The Dolphins handled things differently with their first-round pick out of Alabama, as Tua started in Week 8 following the bye last season. Had Ryan Fitzpatrick still been the starter, maybe the Dolphins make the playoffs. Tua draws a tough assignment here against the game's most brilliant coach in Bill Belichick, so we'll get an early look at his maturation process.
- Miami is 1-8 ATS in its last nine games at New England
- The Dolphins were 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS on the road last season
- Miami is 4-1 ATS in the last five against AFC East opponents
- New England went 5-3 SU and ATS at home last season
- The Patriots are just 1-5 ATS in the last six games as a favorite
- New England is 4-1 ATS in the last five Week 1 games
Denver Broncos (-3, 42) at New York Giants
The Denver Broncos are a road favorite after not being a road favorite at all during the 2020 season. They were just 5-11 SU, but 9-7 ATS last year.
The Giants went 6-10 SU, as they went 6-5 after losing the first five games of the season. New York finished the season at 9-7 ATS.
The lowest total on the board for Week 1 says a lot about Drew Lock and Daniel Jones, but it also speaks volumes about these two defenses. The Giants could have one of the league's top defensive units when all is said and done and Denver is also built up better on that side of the ball.
One thing to keep in mind with the Broncos and recent early-season trends is that the elevation of Denver has provided a lot of help with teams that aren't in game shape over the first couple of weeks. That advantage is counterfeited this season with Denver on the road here and also next week.
- Denver is 2-6 ATS in the last eight games as a favorite
- The under is 4-0 in Denver’s last four games as a road favorite
- The Giants are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog
- The under is 7-0 in New York’s last seven games as an underdog and four of those games have been in a home underdog role
- The Giants are 0-4 ATS in their last four Week 1 games
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5, 46)
Sunday Night Football features two big-market teams in Week 1 with the Bears and the Rams. Chicago was 8-9 SU and ATS last season with a quick playoff exit in the Wild Card Round against the Saints.
The Rams also made the playoffs and finished 11-7 SU and 10-8 ATS last season.
Matthew Stafford will make his Rams debut in this game after sitting out the preseason. Bryce Perkins and Devlin Hodges combined to score 34 points as the quarterbacks in the exhibition games. Sean McVay never really plays the starters in the preseason, so we'll see what kind of rapport Stafford has with his new skill guys and the offensive line.
The Bears will not go with the quarterback that everybody wants to see. Justin Fields will patiently wait his turn, as Andy Dalton gets the call for the primetime game. We'll see how long that lasts with Matt Nagy on the hot seat, but this line has the Rams laying over a touchdown with a low-scoring expectation from the total of 44. That seems to say quite a bit about Dalton and his potential.
- Chicago was 4-4 SU and ATS as a road underdog last season
- The Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog
- The Rams went 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS as a home favorite last season
- The under is 14-3 in the last 17 home games for the Rams
- The under is also 13-3 in the Rams’ last 16 games as a home favorite
Green Bay Packers (-3.5, 50) at New Orleans Saints
After a lot of buzz and uncertainty, it will once again be Aaron Rodgers under center for the Packers to open the season. Green Bay was 14-4 SU and 11-7 ATS last season, with a loss to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game to end the season.
New Orleans was also a victim of the Buccaneers in the playoffs, finishing the season at 13-5 SU and 10-8 ATS.
Only one Hall of Fame QB has been replaced for this game. With Rodgers back in Green Bay, the only change is that Jameis Winston will get the start over Taysom Hill in light of the retirement of Drew Brees. We're sure to see Hill in this game, but Sean Payton opted to go with Winston as the starter in Week 1.
The Saints defense suffered some big losses last season and it wouldn't be a shocker to see this total go up before kickoff.
- Green Bay was 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS as a road favorite last season
- The Packers are 5-1 ATS in the last six Week 1 games
- The Packers ended last season on a 4-0 run to the over
- New Orleans was only a home underdog once last season and lost SU and ATS
- The Saints are 1-6 ATS in their last seven Week 1 games, but are 7-0 to the over in those matchups
Baltimore Ravens (-4, 50.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders open up Allegiant Stadium to fans in the regular season for the first time with Monday Night Football against the visiting Ravens. Las Vegas was 8-8 SU and ATS during the first season in Sin City.
Baltimore was 12-6 SU and 11-7 ATS last season. The Ravens topped the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round, but managed only three points against Buffalo in the Divisional Round.
Lamar Jackson has been under the microscope in the lead-up to the season as bettors and oddsmakers are both wondering if the league has figured him out. The Ravens suffered a big loss when JK Dobbins went down with a torn ACL in the preseason. The Raiders may try to force Jackson to throw, but that has also been the blueprint the last few years.
One thing to follow in this game is to see how Las Vegas's home field advantage stacks up. The BWI-LAS flight is a long one, but a fairly common route for nonstops, so a lot of Ravens fans could descend on Sin City for the Monday Night Football matchup. That will be worth watching as the season goes along at Allegiant Stadium.
- Baltimore was 6-1 SU and 4-3 ATS as a road favorite last season
- The Ravens are 6-0 ATS in their last six as a favorite and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall
- The under is 6-1 in Baltimore’s last seven road games
- The Raiders are 1-5 SU and 3-3 ATS in their last six as home underdogs
- The Raiders are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven Monday Night Football games
- The over is 8-0-1 in the Raiders’ last nine games as a home underdog and 5-0 in their last five games overall