NFL Week 1 Lines, Betting Picks, and Predictions for Every Game
NFL betting analyst Sloan Piva previews Week 1 lines and odds at online sportsbooks. Follow along for picks, predictions, and more betting tips for the opening week of the football season.
It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year for NFL bettors and football fans—the 2021
NFL season kicks off Thursday! I can barely contain my excitement, but I will compose myself in the best interests of our readers. This season should be one for the ages, filled with lots of dynamic rookies, a handful of stars on new franchises, and potential parity like we haven’t seen in many years.
RotoGrinders has a plethora of NFL betting tips, including analysis, fantasy football content, and game previews on the docket for you all season long, among a bevy of other resources. Included in our weekly lineup, I will be listing NFL lines and picks for every game at the top of each work week. I’ll also write a blurb for each game, so you know the reasoning behind my pick.
Are you ready for some football!? I sure am. Let’s dive into these NFL Week 1 lines & betting picks , and start the season off right by making some cold, hard cash.
This column will normally appear throughout the season on Mondays. We are starting on
Tuesday this weekend because of Labor Day (and so we could get the most updated odds ahead of opening week).
Let’s start with Cowboys vs. Buccaneers odds for Thursday Night Football.
NFL Week 1 Lines and Betting Picks
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers -8, O/U 52
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers kick off their Super Bowl-defending 2021 campaign at home
against the Cowboys, who aim for a bounce-back season now that Dak Prescott has fully
recovered from his ankle injury. The ‘boys featured one of the worst defenses in the NFL last
season, and Tampa returns pretty much its entire Super Bowl roster. Those factoids—plus
home-field advantage—would explain the -8, right? Still, I’ll take Dallas getting eight points.
Dak’s back, Dallas added a handful of quality defenders between free agency and the draft
(highlights: Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal), and the Cowboys offense can make just as much noise
as Tampa’s. Remember two things about last year: Prescott was on track to break myriad
records before breaking his leg, and Brady lost his Buccaneers debut. I like the Bucs to win
straight up, but I don’t like them to cover.
Pick: Cowboys +8
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons -3.5, O/U 48
Both these Bird-named squads were a disappointment last season, and both franchises
welcome new coaching systems this year. While I expect each of these teams to exceed their paltry 2020 win totals of four, it would not surprise me if they both finished last in their
respective divisions once again this season. I give the slight advantage to Matt Ryan and the
Falcons at home, as they feature a more dynamic overall offense with superstar receiver Calvin Ridley, top rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, and journeyman back Mike Davis, who enjoyed a breakout in 2020. However, I don’t expect this one to be very pretty. Fly away from this one if you can. Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith promise an exciting future for Philly, but at present there’s too many holes around them.
Pick: Falcons -3.5
Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers -6.5, O/U 49
The Bills are one of my favorite picks to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season, while the Steelers are one of my top bust picks of 2021. Talk about two completely different
franchises on two very opposite trajectories. Buffalo’s Josh Allen enters his fourth year after an MVP-caliber 2020 season (thanks in large part to All-Pro receiver Stefon Diggs), while Big Ben Roethlisberger begins what many believe to be the final chapter of his professional career. I love Steelers’ rookie back Najee Harris, as well as the talented young wideout tandem of Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. But Pittsburgh’s suspect o-line and shaky defensive unit already make the Steelers a longshot—Ben’s noodle arm make one last ride into the Super Bowl sunset seem like a laughable daydream. Give me the Bills, something I might say 11 times this season.
PICK: Bills -6.5
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Minnesota Vikings -3, O/U 48
Casual bettors will be picking their favorite of these two squads, with visions of highlight plays by Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon, Justin Jefferson and Tee Higgins, or Adam Thielen and Tyler Boyd. Maybe the Bengals will get some extra love as three-point ‘dogs because of 2020 No. 1 pick Joe Burrow’s return from a season-ending knee injury last year, or because of elite receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s NFL debut. All I know is these two teams had awful defenses last year—they ranked 26 th and 27 th , respectively, in total yards allowed per game (Cincy 389.2, Minnesota 393.2). If you combined the average opponent points per game of the Bengals and Vikings last season, you’d end up with 56.2. This game should go way over 48 points, opening-week jitters or not.
Pick: OVER 48
San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions -7.5, O/U 46
I don’t like this game—or these spreads—so I’ll go with the UNDER here. I think the Jared Goff era in Detroit will have fans harkening for the days of Matthew Stafford. And San Fran’s high-octane, run-heavy offense, combined with the Niners’ upper-echelon defense, should wreak havoc on the Lions. This could end up a 27-10 road slaughter, with or without top 49ers draft pick Trey Lance under center. The likes of Jimmy G, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert, and rookie back Trey Sermon will be enough to run Detroit into the ground.
PICK: UNDER 46
Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals -3.5, O/U 51.5
I have the Cardinals reaching double-digit wins in 2021, but I have them losing to the Titans in Week 1. Tennessee has the most dominant running back in football in two-time rushing champ Derrick Henry, and now it showcases seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones across from A.J. Brown. That’s some Madden franchise-mode roster construction there. Ryan Tannehill’s case for 2021 MVP starts in Week 1, with the Titans outdueling Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and the Cards.
PICK: Titans -3
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts -2.5, O/U 49.5
*Best Bet Alert
What am I missing here? The Colts offense likely takes a step down this season, after the
retirement of Phillip Rivers and the acquisition of the oft-injured, always-inconsistent Carson Wentz. Indy’s D remains awesome, and running back Jonathan Taylor is a stud, but Seattle’s
offense more than makes up for its questionable defense. Russ Wilson cooks with high heat in
the early season—watch for DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson, and Gerald Everett to flash early and often.
PICK: Seahawks -2.5
Washington Football Team vs. Los Angeles Chargers -1, O/U 44.5
I’m a big Justin Herbert fan, but Washington Football Team has a lot of the right pieces in place for a dark-horse season. With a superb defensive unit, and Ryan Fitzpatrick running a very talented offense for coach Ron Rivera and OC Scott Turner, the nation’s capital might sneak back into the playoffs. I’m especially excited to see what running back Antonio Gibson can do in his second year, and how effective wideout Scary Terry McLaurin can be with an actual quarterback. If WFT can contain Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Keenan Allen, it should pull off the home upset.
PICK: WFT +1
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs -6, O/U 53
This game has the potential to be one of the best of the opening week slate. Browns QB Baker Mayfield took a major step forward last season, and Cleveland maintained its standing as one of the best running teams in the NFL. The Chiefs’ insane offensive core of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce remains though, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire could very well have a breakout sophomore season at tailback. I like the Chiefs to win, but not by a touchdown.
PICK: Browns +6
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers -5, O/U 45
Revenge game for Sam Darnold!? As tired as the ‘revenge game’ narrative gets, I do expect some positive regression from Darnold now that he’s in Carolina and away from New York and former Jets coach Adam Gase. The Panthers have a lot to work with, including All-World dual-threat back Christian McCaffrey and a talented receiver corps including Robby Anderson (Darnold’s former teammate in New York), D.J. Moore, and rookie Terrace Marshall, Jr. Meanwhile, the Jets will improve with rookie Zach Wilson at the helm, but not by much. I still think they wind up in the basement of the AFC East this season.
PICK: Panthers -5
Denver Broncos at New York Giants +2.5, O/U 42.5
This game fails to excite me, but I’m taking the Broncos if I have to choose. Denver’s passing game should improve with Teddy Bridgewater under center, and with Courtland Sutton back to full health. The Broncos also feature an intriguing running back committee between Melvin Gordon III and rookie Javonte Williams. Meanwhile, the Giants are still riding the dead horse that is QB Daniel Jones, and hoping the return of elite running back Saquon Barkley fuels a resurgence. Spoiler: it won’t.
PICK: Broncos -2.5
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints +4, O/U 50
I’m surprised the Pack are only four-point favorites, considering all the offensive weapons at their disposal—including MVP Aaron Rodgers, who somewhat begrudgingly came back for another go with the boys. Drew Brees, on the other hand, committed to retirement, leaving New Orleans with a weird Jameis Winston #taysom-hill)Taysom Hill”:/players/taysom-hill-36873 jambalaya at QB. Not helping their cause: top wideout Michael Thomas had surgery in June that he apparently should have undergone in January. Good grief! Green Bay will win 11 games in somewhat methodical fashion this season—this should be the first of 11.
PICK: Packers -4
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots -3, O/U 43
The Patriots are looking to rebound from a bumpy 2020, and Cam Newton has left the building. Enter rookie Mac Jones, who has the keys to New England. Bill Belichick and OC Josh McDaniels wouldn’t promote the kid if he wasn’t ready, so I’m drinking the Kool-Aid here. The Pats -3 in a home-opener against Miami seems too good to pass up.
PICK: Patriots -3
NFL Week 1 Picks for SNF and MNF
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams -7.5, O/U 44.5
If the Rams were favored by seven and not 7.5, I might have this as an A- pick (maybe buy a half-point for added comfort?). But I do like LA to explode out of the gate with Matthew Stafford under center, and with the Rams’ perennially-elite defense against Andy Dalton. By the way, what’s the over/under on the number of Dalton starts this season? I’m thinking two and out. Rookie Justin Fields is the future of Chicago’s QB position, and quite frankly he should also be the present.
PICK: Rams -7.5
Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders +4.5, O/U 51.5
The Raiders never seem to go out of their way to dramatically improve their team, and coach Jon Gruden still believes in Derek Carr. I do not, especially without 2020 breakout receiver Nelson Agholor. I like the Ravens to enjoy a bounce-back campaign, with a bolstered defense and an always-lethal running game, albeit a little wounded from J.K. Dobbins season-ending ACL tear. I like the Ravens by a touchdown on Monday Night Football.
PICK: Ravens -4.5
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