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Week 1 NFL capsules

Houston Texans at Kansas CIty Chiefs

The Chiefs are coming off a 12-4 regular season, AFC West crown and Super Bowl championship. Houston finished 10-6 and won the AFC South. This NFL opening-night showdown is a rematch of the AFC divisional-round playoffs in which Houston raced to a 24-0 lead only to lose 51-31 to Patrick Mahomes and company. This line opened with Kansas City listed as a 10.5-point home favorite. The public is all over the defending champions. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the points, we’ve seen this line fall from Chiefs -10.5 to -9. This signals some sharp reverse line movement on Houston with pros grabbing the Texans. Historically, big dogs + 7 or more perform well against the spread in the early weeks of the season. We’ve also seen some smart money hit this Under, dropping the total from 55.5 to 54.5. 

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Both NFC North foes are coming off disappointing seasons. The Bears finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs, while the Lions posted the third-worst record in the NFL at 3-12-1. After a quarterback battle in training camp, Mitchell Trubisky won the job for the Bears, beating out veteran Nick Foles. Meanwhile, the Lions are full of optimism with the return of a healthy Matthew Stafford. This line opened with Detroit listed as a short 1.5-point home favorite. The public is split and doesn't know which team to back. But pros have come down hard on the Lions, pushing Detroit from -1.5 to -3. Wise guys targeted Detroit early before they hit the key number of 3. The total has ticked up slightly from 43.5 to 44.5, signaling some respected Over money across the market. 

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

The Dolphins started last season a putrid 0-7 but went 5-4 the rest of the way to finish 5-11. Miami ended on a high note by shocking the Patriots 27-24 in Week 17 in Foxborough, denying the Patriots a bye week in the playoffs. New England went 12-4 but suffered an early playoff exit, losing to the Titans 20-13 at home on wild-card weekend. The Patriots are entering a big transition year. Tom Brady is gone, and this is now Cam Newton's team. This line opened with the Patriots listed as 7-point home favorites. Spread bets are split, and the public doesn’t know whether to take or lay the points. However, pros grabbed the Dolphins early at + 7, dropping this line to Patriots -6.5. Some books even briefly touched 6. Miami has value as a road divisional dog with a low total (43). Smart money has also hit the Under, dropping it from 44 to 43. 

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

The Jets are coming off a 7-9 campaign, while the Bills finished 10-6 and reached the playoffs. This AFC East showdown opened with Buffalo listed as a 6-point home favorite. Two-thirds of bets are rushing to the window to lay the points with Bills Mafia. But it’s not just public betting, it’s also wise-guy money. This lopsided support has pushed Buffalo from -6 to -6.5. We’ve also seen sharp action hit the total. It opened at a low 40. Despite two-thirds of bets taking the Over, it has fallen to 39, signaling sharp reverse line movement on the Under. The forecast calls for 10- to 12-mph winds. Historically, strong winds benefit Unders, as it’s harder to throw and kick the ball. This leads to more running and chewing up the clock. 

Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers

Both teams finished last season with sub-.500 records. The Raiders were slightly better at 7-9, while Carolina went 5-11. The one advantage Las Vegas possesses is stability. While Jon Gruden enters Year 3 in his second go-around for the Raiders, former Baylor coach Matt Rhule takes over in Carolina. In a short offseason without preseason games, rookie coaches could be behind the curve. The Raiders opened as 1.5-point road favorites. Pros and Joes are united behind Las Vegas, which has pushed the Raiders up from -1.5 to -3. Some books seem to be inching closer to -3.5, at which point you would likely see some Panthers buyback getting the hook. The Over has taken in some smart money, rising from 47 to 48. 

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

The Seahawks finished 11-5 last season and reached the postseason. Seattle won its wild-card game against Philadelphia 17-9 but fell to Green Bay 28-23 in the divisional round. The Falcons were Jekyll and Hyde last season, starting 1-7 but going 6-2 the rest of the way. This NFC game opened with Seattle listed as a short 1-point road favorite. The Seahawks are one of the most lopsided public plays of Week 1, with about three-quarters of bets laying the points. This heavy support has pushed Seattle from -1 to -2. Some books are even at -2.5. The Falcons would be your top contrarian play of the week as short home dogs with an inflated line. 

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington 

This NFC East matchup features teams coming off polar opposite regular seasons. The Eagles went 9-7 and won the division, while Washington finished with the second-worst record in the NFL at 3-13. This line opened with Philadelphia listed as a 6-point road favorite. More than two-thirds of bets are laying the points with the Eagles, expecting an easy win and cover. Despite this lopsided support, the line has barely budged. Anytime a book went to Eagles -6.5, it got hit with sharp money on Washington + 6.5, dropping the line back to 6. This signals a sharp line freeze and reverse line movement on Washington, which also has value as a contrarian divisional dog. Sharps have also gotten down hard on the Under, dropping the total from 45 to 43. 

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

The Browns finished last season a disappointing 6-10. The Ravens were world-beaters during the regular season, finishing an NFL-best 14-2. But then Baltimore suffered an early playoff exit, losing to the Titans 28-12 at home in the divisional round. This line opened with Baltimore listed as an 8.5-point home favorite. The public loves betting Lamar Jackson but is wary of laying big points against Baker Mayfield and a revamped Cleveland offense. Despite spread bets being split, we’ve seen this line tumble from Ravens -8.5 to -8. Some books are even down to -7.5. This signals wise-guy money coming down on Cleveland plus the points. The Browns have value as road divisional dogs getting more than a touchdown in Week 1, which has historically been a profitable bet. This total has ticked down slightly from 49 to 48.5. 

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

Talk about teams trending in opposite directions. The Colts finished last season 7-9 but loaded up this offseason, adding veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and trading for former 49ers stud defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Meanwhile, the Jaguars went 6-10 and traded or released several veteran contributors, such as running back Leonard Fournette and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Jacksonville won’t admit it, but it appears to be doing everything it can to tank for Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. This line opened with Indianapolis listed as a 7-point favorite. About two-thirds of bets are backing Indy, pushing the Colts up to -8.  

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings 

Nearly everything went right for the Packers last season. Green Bay was only + 63 in point differential but went 13-3 and reached the NFC championship game, losing to San Francisco 37-20. Minnesota was + 104 in point differential and finished 10-6. The Vikings shocked the Saints 26-20 in the wild-card round before falling to the 49ers 27-10 in the divisional round. This line opened with Minnesota listed as a 3-point or 3.5-point home favorite. The public is all over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers getting points, which has dropped the line to 3 across the board. Green Bay has value as a road divisional dog. But if the line falls to -2.5, look for Vikings buyback as contrarian favorites off the key number of 3. The total has ticked down slightly from 46.5 to 46. 

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

Both teams were at the bottom of the league last season. The Chargers went 5-11, while the Bengals had the worst record in the NFL at 2-14. Both will also feature new starting quarterbacks. Los Angeles turns to veteran Tyrod Taylor, and Cincinnati will start rookie No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. This line opened with the Chargers listed as 3-point road favorites. Tickets are relatively split, but we’ve seen the sportsbooks juice up the Chargers -3 to -120. Some books have even moved to Chargers -3.5. This signals some liability on the favorite laying the points. Smart money has also come down on the Under, dropping the total from 44 to 43. 

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

The Cardinals showed signs of life in Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury’s first season, going 5-10-1. This offseason Arizona made one of the biggest moves in trading for former Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Meanwhile, the 49ers took the league by storm, going 13-3 and reaching the Super Bowl. This NFC West showdown opened with San Francisco listed as a 7.5-point home favorite. Pros immediately scooped up the Cardinals at + 7.5 with the hook, which has dropped the line to 7. Arizona has value as a road divisional dog getting a touchdown in Week 1. Historically, teams getting big points have performed well early in the season. Pro money has also hit the Over, pushing the total up from 46.5 to 47.5. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

The Tom Brady (and Rob Gronkowski) era is officially underway. The Bucs finished 7-9 last season but have high expectations in 2020 with the addition of Brady. The Saints stand in their way. New Orleans went 13-3 last season, tied for the second-best record in the NFL. But the Saints suffered an early playoff exit, losing to the Vikings 26-20 in the wild-card round. This line opened with New Orleans listed as a 4-point home favorite. Pros and Joes are both grabbing the points with Brady and company, ideally at + 4, which has dropped the line to Saints -3.5. The Bucs have value as road divisional dogs. The public is expecting a high-scoring game and hammering the Over, but we’ve actually seen the total fall slightly from 49.5 to 49, signaling contrarian Under liability. 

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Both teams missed the playoffs last season and are looking to rebound in 2020. The Cowboys started 6-4 but went just 2-4 down the stretch to finish 8-8. The Rams had a shot at a wild card but went 1-2 in their last three games to miss out and finish 9-7. After bringing in Mike McCarthy and drafting wideout CeeDee Lamb, expectations are high. This line opened with Dallas listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public is all over the Cowboys, including sharps who hit Dallas early at -2.5. This line has moved to -3. We’ve seen some buyback on the Rams at home at the key number of + 3. Los Angeles also has contrarian value in a prime-time game, receiving only one-third of tickets on “Sunday Night Football.” Pros and Joes are both on the Over, which has been adjusted from 50 to 52. 

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants

The Steelers struggled out of the gate last season, starting 1-4 and losing Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending injury. But Pittsburgh showed resilience to go 7-4 the rest of the way and finish a respectable 8-8. Meanwhile, the Giants struggled under rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, finishing with the fourth-worst record in the NFL at 4-12. This nonconference matchup opened with Pittsburgh listed as a 3.5-point road favorite. The public is rushing to the gate to lay the points and bet against the Giants. With three-quarters of bets backing the Steelers and a healthy Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has moved from -3.5 to -5.5. Some books have even touched -6. Sharps hit the Steelers early, ideally around -3.5 or -4. Where it stands now, the Giants are offering value as home dogs with an inflated line. New York is also super contrarian in a heavily bet “Monday Night Football” game, receiving only one-quarter of bets. We’ve also seen some slight Over money, pushing the total from 47 to 48. 

Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos

The Titans were one of the most impressive stories of 2019. Tennessee benched Marcus Mariota, inserted Ryan Tannehill, went 9-7 and won two playoff games, eventually falling to the Chiefs in the AFC title game. The Broncos started 0-4, turned to rookie quarterback Drew Lock, rebounded to go 7-5 down the stretch and finished 7-9. This line opened with Denver listed as a 2-point home favorite. Pros and Joes pounced on the opportunity to grab Tennessee as an underdog. This combination of sharp and recreational money pushed Tennessee from + 2 down to a pick-’em. Some books have even flipped to Titans -1. Those who are late to the party and like Tennessee might be better served taking the Titans on the moneyline. Denver does have one distinct advantage. Historically, playing at altitude has been tough for visitors, especially early in the season. We might also be looking at a low-scoring game. The total has dropped from 42 to 41.

 

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