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Week 1 of the NFL season is finally upon us and it features some very entertaining games right off the bat. There are 11 contests that have a spread of four points or less, which means oddsmakers are expecting some tight games. As we start our first week of handicapping the pros, here’s a look at the three biggest storylines.


Missing Stars

Week 1 has a lot of big name absentees, which will be important to keep in mind when placing bets. Much has been made about missing quarterbacks, as Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys and Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings are both injured. The New England Patriots will also be without their star quarterback, Tom Brady, due to a suspension that will keep him out of the first four weeks of the season.

Beyond that, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and wideout Martavis Bryant are both out due to suspension. Additionally, the Kansas City Chiefs look like they’ll be without star runner Jamaal Charles, but keep an eye on the injury report to see if that changes prior to kickoff. On the defensive side, the Cincinnati Bengals are without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the Buffalo Bills are without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Marcel Dareus, and the Denver Broncos are without top corner Aqib Talib, all due to suspension. Keep these absences in mind as you handicap the games.


Does Jimmy Have The Moves?

The Patriots will play the first four games of the season without Tom Brady, which means backup Jimmy Garoppolo steps into the spotlight. We’ve never seen Garoppolo as a regular season starter before, and it remains to be seen whether he can help keep the Pats afloat while Brady is out. This week, the Patriots are a six-point underdog at Arizona, which figures to be a tough place for Garoppolo to get his first start. These two teams are among the top six Super Bowl favourites.


Kaepernick, Los Angeles Rams Headline Monday Night Football

The opening week of the season delivers a double-header, with a must-watch late game. Not only will the Los Angeles Rams (-3) be making their 2016 debut after moving from St. Louis, we’re also likely to see San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick take the spotlight as he kneels during the national anthem. Expect that to be a hot topic once again.


*Odds as of September 9, 2016