The NFL is back with one game on Thursday, 13 games on Sunday, and two more matchups scheduled on Monday night to close out Week One. Many of the contests that kick off the 2014 regular season could be one-sided, as only two games feature two teams that made the playoffs last year.
According to the betting lines at most Las Vegas casinos, just one team is favored by double-digits. Below are picks against the spread for every game in Week One.
Green Bay Packers (+6) at Seattle Seahawks
The defending Super Bowl champs have proven to be nearly unbeatable at home, going 7-1 at CenturyLink Field last year. Seattle might start the season with a win, but six points is a lot for a team with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. While the Packers barely finished above .500 in 2013, Green Bay went 6-2 when their quarterback played the whole game, and neither loss came by more than six points.
Prediction ATS: Green Bay
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were one of the worst teams in the NFC last year, but a lot of that was due to injuries. Matt Ryan is an above-average quarterback, and the team made a few key additions on defense this offseason. The Saints are a different team on the road, going 3-5 away from New Orleans in 2013.
Prediction ATS: Atlanta
Minnesota Vikings (+4) at St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury may have hurt the Rams’ chances of qualifying for a playoff spot, but the team can still beat inferior competition. Shaun Hill has been a backup quarterback for most of his career, but he’s been more than adequate when given the chance to play. Matt Cassel will have trouble against St. Louis’ defensive line, and Adrian Peterson can only do so much.
Prediction ATS: St. Louis
Cleveland Browns (+6.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Browns visit the Steelers every season, but they haven’t won in Pittsburgh in 11 years. Without Josh Gordon, the team no longer has its biggest offensive weapon, and Brian Hoyer remains unproven at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger has played better against Cleveland than he has against any team in his career, defeating them 17 times in 18 tries. Sunday should be more of the same.
Prediction ATS: Pittsburgh
Jacksonville Jaguars (+10.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
While Jacksonville added a few defensive players in free agency, the team lost Maurice Jones-Drew and didn’t do much to improve upon being the NFL’s worst team in the last three years. The Eagles' biggest weakness is their secondary, but it’s not likely that Chad Henne will do much to exploit it. Philadelphia’s wins in 2013 came by an average of 14.5 points, and Week One could see them get another two-touchdown victory.
Prediction ATS: Philadelphia
Oakland Raiders (+5.5) at New York Jets
Derek Carr is the only rookie quarterback that will start in Week One of the 2014 NFL season, and it’ll likely be a good thing for the Jets. Under head coach Rex Ryan, New York is 7-1 against first-year quarterbacks. Russell Wilson was the one rookie signal caller to get a win against the Jets, and the rest of the Raiders team doesn’t compare to the 2012 Seahawks.
Prediction ATS: New York
Cincinnati Bengals (+1.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Since Andy Dalton arrived in Cincinnati in 2011, the Bengals have become a consistent winner, making the playoffs in all three seasons. During that time, though, the Ravens have managed to win at home against their division rivals every year. Ray Rice won’t be available, but Baltimore beat Cincinnati last year, despite the running back totaling just 30 yards on 18 carries.
Prediction ATS: Baltimore
Buffalo Bills (+7) at Chicago Bears
The Bills could be on their way to having the worst record in the NFL. They lost one of the top free agents in the offseason when Jairus Byrd signed with the Saints, and the jury is still out on EJ Manuel as a starting quarterback. The additions of Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen should make the Bears’ defense better, and Jay Cutler enters the season healthy.
Prediction ATS: Chicago
Washington Redskins (+3) at Houston Texans
Both teams are looking to bounce back in 2014 after disappointing seasons. The combination of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney should give Robert Griffin III some trouble. Ryan Fitzpatrick gives the Texans a competent quarterback, something they didn’t have a year ago.
Prediction ATS: Houston
Tennessee Titans (+3.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs could take a significant step back from last season, after making the playoffs, but finishing 2013 by losing five of seven games. However, Tennessee could find itself near the bottom of the league, losing Chris Johnson and making no significant additions. When he hasn’t been hurt, Jake Locker has been inconsistent, and he might have trouble in a hostile environment in Kansas City.
Prediction ATS: Kansas City
New England Patriots (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins
The Patriots are clearly the class of the AFC East, but the Dolphins are far from a bad team. They beat New England in Miami last year, and could keep it close again in 2014. Ryan Tannehill should be improved in year No.3, and Tom Brady is still without any elite weapons on offense. The betting odds will be in New England’s favor for almost every game, but Miami has a chance to pull off an early-season upset.
Prediction ATS: Miami
Carolina Panthers (+2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Uncertainty surrounding the health of Cam Newton has shifted the point spread in favor of the Buccaneers. A rib injury forced the quarterback to sit out practice on Wednesday, and he is reportedly hopeful that he can play in Week One. Head coach Ron Rivera said he is optimistic, and with Newton on the field, the Panthers are clearly the better team.
Prediction ATS: Carolina
San Francisco 49ers (-4.5) at Dallas Cowboys
At the end of the season, the 49ers could very well prove to be the most well-rounded team in football. San Francisco added a few weapons on offense, and their defense will be at the top of the league, once again. The Cowboys have the ability to score a lot of points, but their defense needs a lot of help.
Prediction ATS: San Francisco
Indianapolis Colts (+7.5) at Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning and the Broncos started last season off with a bang, scoring 49 points and blowing out the defending champion Ravens. While much of the public is picking Denver to do the same in 2014, it might be a mistake to look past the Colts. They handed Denver their first loss in 2013, and while Manning is likely to have another big game, Andrew Luck could help Indianapolis keep pace for most of the way.
Prediction ATS: Indianapolis
New York Giants (+5) at Detroit Lions
The Giants went 5-0 in the preseason, but the team’s record does not tell the whole story. The first-team offense struggled, and the offensive line is a major concern. Facing a strong defensive front and one of the most talented offenses in the league could result in a big win for the Lions.
Prediction ATS: Detroit
San Diego Chargers (+3) at Arizona Cardinals
Philip Rivers quietly had one of the best seasons of any quarterback last year. With expectations not being very high, he could help the Chargers become one of the most surprising teams in 2014. The Cardinals will compete for a playoff spot, and the contest should be close, but Arizona doesn’t historically have a strong home-field advantage. Since the game is close to a tossup, the smart play might be to take the points.
Prediction ATS: San Diego