NFL Betting: Week 1 Top Matchups

At long last, the NFL season is here. Despite a global pandemic, the NFL has managed to stick to the plan and begin its season on time. While it’s been anything but normal in the leadup to Week 1, with player opt-outs, near-empty stands and intensive COVID screening for all players and personnel, football will be the same game that we know and love when the whistle blows Thursday night. That’s a huge relief to sports fans and NFL betting gurus everywhere. To celebrate, we’re kicking off the season with a preview of the top matchups for Week 1 and shedding some light on the early Super Bowl betting favourites. 

Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs (—9.5) 

The 2020 NFL season kicks off with a matchup between the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. This is expected to be a lopsided affair, with the Chiefs pegged as 10-point favourites after beating the Texans by double that win margin in the Divisional Round matchup last postseason. In that game, the Chiefs came back from a 21-0 deficit after the first quarter to beat Texans 51-31—thanks in part to TE Travis Kelce, who registered 10 receptions for three touchdowns. He just signed massive a contract extension that’ll keep him in red and white through 2025. 

The Texans, meanwhile, are hoping that shuffling defensive Swiss Army knife AJ Moore from the special teams unit to safety will help solve their defensive woes, but that’ll be a tall order considering the Texans ranked at the bottom of the league in both pass and rush defense in 2019. With the Chiefs’ offensive firepower and the Texans’ lackluster defense, it’s no surprise that this game has the week’s highest total on the NFL odds board at 54 points.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions (—3)

The Chicago Bears may not be known for their offensive prowess, but they’ll get a chance to exploit a Detroit Lions defense that is among the worst in the league. Elite cornerback Darius Slay left Detroit as expected, but that may have been a blessing in disguise despite the Lions’ obvious need for skilled players on D. Detroit was able to avoid a pricey contract extension and also snagged a third and fifth-round pick from the Eagles in exchange for the CB. Desmon Trufant will help pick up the slack left by Slay, and Duron Harmon will also contribute, but whether or not that’ll be enough to get them over the hump and stop dragging down Matt Stafford’s offense remains to be seen. Detroit lost both of their games against the Bears in 2019. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (—4.5) @ New York Giants

With Big Ben expected back after missing most of the 2019 season recovering from elbow surgery, the Steelers are expected to resume their position as playoff contenders in 2020. While the offense struggled mightily in Roethlisberger’s absence, major improvements were seen on the Steelers’ defense, which ranked fifth in the league in yards allowed. The Week 1 matchup against the Giants should provide Roethlisberger with a soft start to the 2020 season. 

The Giants are rebuilding under the tutelage of rookie head coach Joe Judge. Eli Manning’s 2019 retirement means that New York is all-in on their young offensive talent, which includes second-year QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley; both are exceptional players, so the future looks bright in the Big Apple. Defensively, however, more work needs to be done to reconfigure their struggling secondary. As a result, the Giants are getting four points on the spread against Pittsburgh. 

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings (—2.5) 

The Green Bay Packers swept the Minnesota Vikings last season, but they’ll have a harder time getting past Minnesota’s defensive line in Week 1 with the recent addition of 2017 Pro Bowler Yannick Ngakoue, who has replaced Everson Griffen and will stand opposite of Danielle Hunter. The addition is much-needed after Minnesota lost several key players from their defense this offseason, but it’s not just the defense that has experienced losses. People want to know how QB Kirk Cousins will fare without his No. 1 target, Stefon Diggs.

Dallas Cowboys (—2.5) @ Los Angeles Rams 

The Dallas Cowboys may need to lean on their offense again in 2020, as they’re facing some obstacles in their secondary. After losing their Pro Bowl cornerback Byron Jones, who was snapped up by the Miami Dolphins in free agency, they’re hoping that second-round draft pick Trevon Diggs can develop into that role, but that’s likely to take some time. The rookie will be tested in Week 1 when the Cowboys face the Los Angeles Rams, who have run a solid pass game over the last two seasons despite being on the opposite end of the Super Bowl odds board as Dallas. 

The Rams have some defensive woes of their own. They lost a key player at middle linebacker in Corey Liddleton, and the only potential replacement at left inside linebacker is Micah Kiser, a 2018 draftee who missed all of last year with a pectoral injury. With defensive questions lingering for both teams, the Dallas-LA game has the second-highest total on the NFL Week 1 odds board at 51.5 points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (—3.5) 

If one team can prevent the New Orleans Saints from claiming the NFC South title for a fourth straight year, it will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is why their Week 1 matchup will garner much attention. The Bucs have gone all in, with the signing of QB Tom Brady for two years. Brady will be spoiled with receiving weapons this season, but the Bucs will also have a formidable defense that will complement their scoring threat.

The Saints, who saw big improvements on the pass defense last season when Drew Brees was injured, will be a good test for the new-look Buccaneers. This may well be Brees’ final season, so we should expect big things from the league’s all-time TD leader.

Seattle Seahawks (—1) @ Atlanta Falcons

The dynamic duo of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones appear poised for yet another stellar offensive season in Atlanta. But the Falcons have added an interesting piece to the equation this offseason, with the acquisition of Todd Gurley from the LA Rams. If Gurley is able to establish himself as a Falcon, even the best defenses won’t have an answer for the uber-talented Jones.

For Seattle, there’s still a number of questions on defense. Their defensive line has undergone a serious retooling, and their primary pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney won’t be suiting up for the Seahawks as he continues to try the free agent market. As a result, we can expect the load to fall on Russell Wilson yet again. This one is a near toss-up, as Seattle enters Sunday’s contest as slim 1-point favourites.