The first week of NFL Football action is upon us, in a season that promises drama and intrigue. The opening week’s slate of games features some classic rivalries: Packers vs. Bears, Giants Vs. Cowboys, Patriots Vs. Steelers. It will feature Joe Flacco and Nick Foles starting for their new teams, along with Kyler Murray making his NFL debut.
A Week 1 win is one of the best feelings in football. You’re 1-0, and you’re undefeated until somebody stops you. A loss is far from dooming, but it’s always inspiring for team morale to start the season off with a victory.
Which 16 teams start off that way? Can last place teams from last year turn their fortunes around early? How will Ezekiel Elliot play in his first game after a massive contract extension? And when the Vikings-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots meet head-to-head, the outcomes could be meaningful later on in the season.
For all the answers and more: My Week 1 NFL Picks (Winners and Against the Spread)
Thursday Night Football
Green Bay Packers (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
Line: Chicago Bears (-3.0)
This should be a pretty good matchup to kickoff the NFL season. On the national stage, the Chicago Bears defense hangs strong against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Chicago edges out a well-fought football game with a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
Bears win 23-16, Bears win ATS
Sunday Day Games
Buffalo Bills (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
Line: New York Jets (-2.5)
These AFC East rivals can have unpredictable games, but I think the Jets come out and set the tone as the better of the two teams. Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell post efficient games, inspiring the fanbase at MetLife Stadium.
Jets win 27-13, Jets win ATS
Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Line: Cleveland Browns (-5.5)
The Titans have a chance to cover the spread here, but I’ll take the Browns both straight up and against the spread. The team is antsy to get on the field with high expectations for the season, and though keeping it up over 16 games is tough, Baker Mayfield and company make a statement with an opening day win. The Cleveland Browns with a winning record?? When’s the last time that happened?
Browns win 28-20, Browns win ATS
Baltimore Ravens (0-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-0)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-7.0)
The Dolphins are getting a lot of credit being only 6.5 point underdogs against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. I have Miami’s offense being kept out of the endzone in a dominating Baltimore win.
Ravens win 31-6, Ravens win ATS
Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
Line: Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
In my 2019 NFL Standings Predictions, I have these two teams locked in a tight race for an NFC Wildcard spot. This Week 1 game could come up huge if the two teams finish the season with the same record. In general, I like the Falcons to be the better of these two teams in 2019, but Kirk Cousins and the Vikings open up the season with a narrow win at home.
Vikings win 23-20,Vikings ATS
Washington Redskins (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-10.0)
With easily the biggest point spread of the week, the Redskins are the biggest underdogs of Week 1. Quite simply, they’re outmatched all over the field by the Philadelphia Eagles. But a Week 1 matchup before the Philadelphia offense is firing on all cylinders.. hey I’m not saying Washington will pull off the road upset, but maybe they cover the large spread here.
Eagles win 27-19, Redskins win ATS
Los Angeles Rams (0-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-0)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-1.5)
The defending NFC Champions start their season on the road against a potentially dangerous Carolina Panthers squad. I have the Rams going 13-3 and repeating as NFC West winners, but they caught up with a Week 1 loss to Cam Newton and Christian McCaffery in Carolina. Cue the headlines about Jared Goff not being worth his contract extension, after one mere loss.
Panthers win 24-21, Panthers win ATS
Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)
The Chiefs are only 3.5-point favorites as they travel to Jacksonville, with an estimated game-time temperature of 95 degrees. If Mahommes and the offense can operate efficiently in the heat, Kansas City should be able to roll to victory. The Nick Foles-era would be fun to start with an upset win over one of the conference’s best teams: but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Chiefs win 31-17, Chiefs win ATS
Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-0)
Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
You may think the Chargers will beat the Colts after Andrew Luck’s retirement, and you’re absolutely right. Indianapolis won’t be horrible this year (I have them going 8-8) but the Chargers are the better football team, and roll to an easy opening week win. Stay tuned for better performances from Jacoby Brissett as the season progresses.
Chargers win 30-17, Chargers win ATS
Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
The second-biggest underdogs of the week, the Bengals have an incredibly tough task of playing in Seattle without their number one wide reciever, A.J. Green. To make matters worse, newly-acquired Jadeveon Clowney will be looking to wreak havoc in his first game with the Seahawks. Cincinnati’s defense has an admirable effort, but their offense can’t put up enough points. Maybe the Bengals can cover the large spread by keeping the game low-scoring.
Seahawks win 20-13, Bengals win ATS
New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
Another NFL season, another Giants at Cowboys during opening week. The Giants are looking to improve from back-to-back abysmal seasons. They will be a better team, but the Cowboys are already a playoff squad looking to keep hold on that position. While New York turns in a solid performance and covers the spread, the Cowboys start 1-0 in Jerry World.
Cowboys win 24-20, Giants win ATS
Detroit Lions (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
Line: Detroit Lions (-3.0)
I have the Cardinals in the race for the first overall draft pick yet again. While this isn’t one of their toughest matchups, I’ll taken the seasoned Matt Stafford over Kyler Murray in his first NFL start.
Lions win 27-13, Lions win ATS
San Francisco 49ers (0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.0)
I don’t have a strong sense of who to bet on here, and neither does Vegas, as evidenced by the even line. The 49ers are probably the slightly better team, but I don’t have faith in Jimmy G to come out with his A-Game on in Week 1. I’ll take the Buccaneers at home; less because I like them but more because I don’t trust the 49ers.
Update 9/8: Tampa Bay has moved to one point favorites
Buccaneers win 27-24, Buccaneers win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at New England Patriots (0-0)
Line: New England Patriots (-5.5)
On paper, this is a great matchup, a classic quarterback duel between Big Ben and Tom Brady. But something about the timing of this Week 1 game makes me think the Patriots are going to come out with a statement win. They were slightly snubbed, being relegated from Thursday opening night (when the defending Super Bowl champions usually play) to Sunday night. The Patriots optimize their efficiency and win less because of talent and more because of system, scheme, and experience.
Patriots win 27-17, Patriots win ATS
Monday Night Football
Houston Texans (0-0) at New Orleans Saints (0-0)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-7.0)
Two playoff teams from 2018 looking to repeat in 2019, the Saints and Texans kick off a Monday Night doubleheader. Like a few other games this week, the outcome of this game would be a lot closer if the home team was flipped. But under the dome in New Orleans, Drew Brees and the Saints are a tough opponent for any team in the league. The Texans don’t get embarrassed, but the Saints hang strong as favorites by a touchdown.
Saints win 27-17, Saints win ATS
Denver Broncos (0-0) at Oakland Raiders (0-0)
Line: Denver Broncos (-2.5)
The late Monday night matchup will serve as the introductory game for Joe Flacco and Antonio Brown: familiar foes in the AFC North that both find themselves in the AFC West this year. While the ceiling for Brown in Oakland is high, there’s also incredible potential for things to go wrong. While Flacco is far from the best quarterback in the league, he proves you can plug him in for an efficient offensive performance.
UPDATE 9/5: With Antonio Brown set to be suspended by the Raiders, any chance they have of winning this game is dead. The team morale won’t be great after such a situation. Awaiting the Vegas line to make the Broncos outright favorites as opposed to the original pick ’em line.
UPDATE 9/8: The Antonio Brown saga is over, and the Broncos have moved to 2.5 point favorites. I was gonna go with them either way.
Broncos win 28-13, Push ATS
Header photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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