With no teams having played meaningful games, Week 1 of the season might be the most difficult time to predict what will happen on the NFL schedule. All 32 teams are in action this week, as the 2015 season begins on Thursday night.
The Patriots and Packers are the biggest favorites on the schedule, and no betting line is more than seven points, according to vegasinsider.com. Half of the games feature a point spread of a field goal or less.
Below are picks against the spread for every game in Week 1, as well as updated betting odds at Las Vegas casinos.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) at New England Patriots
After Brady’s suspension and the recent story about New England’s cheating tactics prior to Spygate, the Patriots will be looking to win big on Thursday. New England is virtually unbeatable at home, only losing at Gillette Stadium last season in a meaningless Week 17 game. Six of their seven home wins came by at least seven points.
Prediction ATS: New England
Green Bay Packers (-7) at Chicago Bears
It might be a heated rivalry, but Green Bay has owned Chicago recently, winning nine of their last 10 meetings. The biggest reason has been Jay Cutler’s struggles, as the quarterback has thrown 14 touchdowns and 21 interceptions against the Packers in his career. Nine of Green Bay’s last 10 wins against Chicago have come by at least seven points, and with the two teams headed in opposite directions, Sunday should be more of the same.
Prediction ATS: Green Bay
Kansas City Chiefs (+1) at Houston Texans
The Chiefs are getting points because they are on the road, but they are the better team. Houston isn’t particularly good at home, where they’ve lost 11 of their last 16 games against the spread, via Odds Shark. Having added Jeremy Maclin in the offseason, Kansas City has improved offensively. Houston could have trouble scoring points with Brian Hoyer at quarterback and Arian Foster on the bench with an injury.
Prediction ATS: Kansas City
Cleveland Browns (+3) at New York Jets
Cleveland will have trouble scoring all season long, and they could especially have problems against a tough New York defense. Josh McCown threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2014, and he could be due for a few picks against a secondary led by Darrelle Revis. The Jets will be without starting quarterback Geno Smith, but Ryan Fitzpatrick might give them a better chance to win.
Prediction ATS: New York
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Buffalo Bills
The Colts are the Super Bowl favorite in the AFC, but they won’t have an easy time winning in Buffalo. The Bills had a top-four defense last year, and the unit could be even better under head coach Rex Ryan. They ended last season by covering five of six point spreads and winning four of their last five home games. Indianapolis is the better team, but a Week 1 upset isn’t out of the question.
Prediction ATS: Buffalo
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Washington Redskins
Neither team ended the 2014 season on a high note, but Washington is likely headed for a much tougher 2015 season. Having replaced Robert Griffin III with Kirk Cousins, the Redskins won’t have an easy time moving the ball against an improved Miami defense. Washington might not get much of a benefit from playing at home, where they’ve gone 1-6 against the spread in their last eight games.
Prediction ATS: Miami
Carolina Panthers (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles could be improved from his rookie season, but Jacksonville is probably the worst team in the league. Carolina is the favorite to win the NFC South, and they should take care of business in Jacksonville. Only one of the Jaguars’ 13 losses in 2014 came by less than six points.
Prediction ATS: Carolina
Seattle Seahawks (-4) at St. Louis Rams
Even though the Seahawks have been much better than the Rams since Russell Wilson entered the league three years ago, St. Louis has held their own at home against Seattle during that time. The Rams have won two of their last three home games against the Seahawks, with their one loss coming in 2013 by just five points.
Prediction ATS: St. Louis
New Orleans Saints (+2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have an underrated home-field advantage, going 6-1 against the spread in their last seven home games. Arizona will compete for a playoff spot if Carson Palmer stays healthy, but New Orleans could miss the postseason even with Drew Brees under center. The quarterback is without his top target after the team traded Jimmy Graham in the offseason, and the Saints haven’t had a winning record on the road since 2011.
Prediction ATS: Arizona
Detroit Lions (+3) at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have a good chance to be a winning team this season, making things that much more difficult for the Lions. With Matthew Stafford at the helm, Detroit is 3-32 against winning teams, including a 0-18 record on the road. If the point spread remains no higher than a field goal, San Diego is the smart pick.
Prediction ATS: San Diego
Tennessee Titans (+3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s a battle of the top two picks in the draft, but Tampa Bay should have the edge. The Buccaneers are just three-point favorites, but they have the more NFL-ready quarterback and the better supporting cast. With Jameis Winston throwing to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, he should find more success than Marcus Mariota, who doesn’t have a weapon that recorded 900 receiving yards last year.
Prediction ATS: Tampa Bay
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Oakland Raiders
Andy Dalton has led Cincinnati to the playoffs in all four of his NFL seasons, but he hasn’t helped the Bengals exceed expectations on the road. Cincinnati has failed to cover the spread in 12 of their last 18 road games, and that trend could continue in Oakland, where they’ve lost five in a row. Derek Carr has more offensive weapons at his disposal in 2015, and he could lead the Raiders to a Week 1 victory.
Prediction ATS: Oakland
Baltimore Ravens (+4.5) at Denver Broncos
The Broncos were the only team to go unbeaten at home last year, and they haven’t lost more than one game in Denver in a season since Peyton Manning joined the team in 2012. Manning wasn’t healthy at the end of last year, but he could have a big performance to start 2015.
Prediction ATS: Denver
New York Giants (+6) at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have their share of question marks to start the season, but those are surpassed by the Giants. Victor Cruz still isn’t healthy, the team’s secondary is banged up and Jason Pierre-Paul could miss the first month of the season. New York hasn’t beaten Dallas since 2012, and it could be even longer before the Giants get a win over their longtime rivals.
Predictions ATS: Dallas
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Atlanta Falcons
The Eagles have become a popular Super Bowl pick, surpassing the Cowboys as the favorites in the NFC East. Philadelphia added DeMarco Murray, but they lost their top wide receiver, and Sam Bradford has yet to prove himself as a reliable starting quarterback. Atlanta has the talent to be an above-average offensive team, and they might beat Philadelphia outright.
Prediction ATS: Atlanta
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco is just one of two teams that is getting points against a team that had a worse 2014 record than they did. The 49ers could be in for a long season, but there is value in picking them as a home underdog. They’ve won eight of their last nine home games against Minnesota, and Teddy Bridgewater still has to prove he can win big games on the road, having gone 1-5 away from home as a rookie.
Prediction ATS: San Francisco