The NFL kicked off Thursday night with the New England Patriots taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers. While there were many headlines following the game, in Las Vegas, the biggest story was certainly the final score. Spending most of the game down double digits, the Steelers scored a meaningless touchdown with two seconds left to lose by seven points (28-21). With the line closing at seven at most sports books, the “push” means bettors will be channeling that money (and more) to Week 1’s remaining games.
Let’s take a look at five of Week 1’s most intriguing match-ups.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-7.0) at Chicago Bears
The Packers-Bears rivalry kicks off both teams’ regular seasons, but the rivalry has become less enticing since Jay Cutler arrived in Chicago. Currently 1-10 in his career against the Packers, it sometimes appears as if Cutler is trying to throw passes to Green Bay’s team. Aaron Rodgers will throw with his left hand for the entire second half to avoid embarrassing Chicago too much, and the Packers easily start the season with a win.
Prediction: GB (38) – CHI (17)
Indianapolis Colts at BUFFALO BILLS (+2.5)
Rex Ryan makes his Buffalo Bills head coaching debut and will be looking to make a statement. While Andrew Luck and the Colts’ high-powered offense looks dangerous this year, the Bills’ stout defense leads them to victory in Week 1. The inevitable discussion shaping up to be the worst quarterback competition in NFL history between Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel waits another week.
Prediction: IND (17) – BUF (20)
Baltimore Ravens at DENVER BRONCOS (-4.0)
Coach Gary Kubiak makes his Denver debut against a team that has consistently given quarterback Peyton Manning issues. However, giving Peyton three weeks to prepare for a game is trouble for the opposing team, especially when it’s a home game. Baltimore will try to keep it close, but the altitude will be too much for aging wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to handle. Joe Flacco is left throwing to players with names as weird as Crockett Gillmore, allowing the Broncos to walk away with a win in Kubiak’s debut.
Prediction: BAL (23) – DEN (31)
NEW YORK GIANTS (+6.5) at Dallas Cowboys
The Sunday Night Football game will feature two NFC East rivals – the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys – who hope to live up to last year’s showdowns. Both high-power offenses should be on full display, as Odell Beckham will (hopefully) out-perform his last game against the Cowboys. Neither defense figures to slow the other one down, which makes 6.5 points seem like a bit too much. Odell only has three jaw-dropping catches, so the Giants fail to win the game, but hang on to cover the spread.
Prediction: NYG (34) – DAL (38)
Philadelphia Eagles at ATLANTA FALCONS (+2.5)
In the first of the two Monday Night football games, the completely revamped Philadelphia Eagles take on the Atlanta Falcons. With both offenses expected to be two of the top units in the league, this should be a high scoring affair that will decide a lot of fantasy football match-ups. The Eagles are excited for quarterback Sam Bradford to make his season debut/finale, as they hope to avoid starting Mark Sanchez until at least the third quarter. Matt Ryan and Co. have a well-documented history of playing better at home, and take their season opener after an atrocious performance by Philadelphia’s defense.
Prediction: PHI (31) – ATL (35)