The NFL season is very nearly here. The Buccaneers and Cowboys will kickstart Week 1 on Sept. 9, and NFL bettors are eager to get in on the action. After spending the 2021 offseason poring over the Week 1 matchups in detail and trying to identify quality underdogs and undervalued teams to trust against the spread, they’ll finally get to see if their bets come to fruition.
This year, the early-season results shouldn’t be quite as unpredictable as they were in 2020. Teams actually got to play preseason games in 2021. While many teams rested their starters, bettors could at least glean some insights from the games and got to see a handful of old faces in new places. The biggest one that fans have yet to see is Matthew Stafford with the Rams.
Bettors also got a preview of the rookie quarterbacks this year. As such, they won’t be flying blind if they want to trust Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson in Week 1. They know what they’re getting into.
At the early stages of the season, there aren’t a lot of impactful injuries that could have an effect on Week 1 spreads. Saquon Barkley (knee) is among the biggest, as he is working his way back from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 2 last season. Among quarterbacks, the statuses of Joe Burrow and Carson Wentz will bear watching. Burrow logged three snaps in the preseason returning from an ACL tear of his own. The Bengals believe he’ll be able to play in Week 1, but if he’s limited at practice, that could change.
Meanwhile, Wentz is dealing with a foot injury that will keep him out 5 to 12 weeks. If he can return at the lower end of that timeline, he could play in Week 1. If he needs extra time, Jacob Eason might be forced to start.
For more expert NFL predictions, check out Sporting News’ picks straight up and against the spread for Week 1.
NFL odds for Week 1
Below are the latest Week 1 NFL odds, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for every game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Last updated: Tuesday, Aug. 31
NFL point spreads Week 1
NFL money lines Week 1
NFL over-unders Week 1
NFL best bets for Week 1
49ers (-7.5) at Lions
As of this writing, the 49ers are tied for the biggest Week 1 favorite with the Buccaneers. That said, San Francisco is the more appealing of the two and may be the most appealing team to take in Week 1.
The 49ers were one of the best teams in the NFL during the 2019 season but regressed badly in 2020 due to countless injuries. They are now healthy and should have a chance to pick apart a lackluster Lions defense.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Raheem Mostert are all healthy, so they should key a solid offensive performance. Defensively, the 49ers should be able to contain Jared Goff. They have experience facing the former Rams passer, and while he has 14 passing TDs against the 49ers — the most he has against any one team — he also has six interceptions, five fumbles and just a 3-5 record against the Niners.
It will be harder for Goff to keep Detroit in the game given the lack of talent they have surrounding him, especially since D’Andre Swift is banged up. The 49ers should win this game by double digits, even on the road.
Washington (+1) vs. Chargers
Washington being a home underdog doesn’t quite seem right, even against a well-built team like the Chargers. It’s true that Washington didn’t perform well in the preseason and averaged just 11 points per game. However, their starting defense — and Chase Young, in particular — looked very good. And if William Jackson III can get healthy, he will have a big impact on the secondary.
If Washington’s defense shows up, it could make life difficult for Justin Herbert and the Chargers. Los Angeles opted to sit most of its starters during the preseason, so Herbert hasn’t seen in-game action since Week 17. He could be slow out of the gate against a good defense as a result, especially if his new-look offensive line takes some time to jell. Add in that this will be Brandon Staley’s first regular-season game as an NFL head coach and Washington looks very appealing as an underdog.
Cardinals (+3) at Titans
The Titans may have a strong offense, but their defense is still a work in progress. Their front seven should be better after adding Bud Dupree during the offseason, but their secondary is still a problem. Their top corners are Janoris Jenkins, rookie Caleb Farley and second-year player Kristian Fulton, who had his share of issues in 2020.
The Cardinals have the firepower needed to make that a problem for the Titans’ defense, as their receivers can take advantage of the weakness at cornerback while Kyler Murray will be able to mitigate the Tennessee pass rush with his mobility. Their defense should be better after adding J.J. Watt, Zaven Collins and Malcolm Butler to the fold, so they could win this one outright.
Taking Arizona as three-point underdogs seems like a no-brainer. After all, they nearly made the playoffs last year and probably would have if Murray hadn’t been dinged up.
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