Week 1 of the NFL season is in our sights, and that means it is time to visit the sportsbook of your choice to make our weekly round of NFL bets. Each week during the 2020 regular season we will dissect the betting lines from Thursday to Monday, looking at the early betting market in the beginning of the week and culminating in content-specific deep dives which will include spreads, totals, and prop bets, among others. Here are five betting lines to keep an eye on for Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season (odds courtesy of FanDuel), and bookmark this page to keep track of all of our betting content!
NFL Betting Lines 2020, Official Plays
Green Bay Packers (+2.5) at Minnesota Vikings, Over/Under 45.5
The Packers getting 2.5 points is my favorite line of the week. For starters, on paper, the Packers are a far better team than the Vikings. While the acquisition of Yannick Ngakoue was a sexy one, and yes it affects the pass rush/pass coverage interplay, but it doesn’t exactly fix the Vikings issues at cornerback, does it? The Packers were the fifth-best team in the NFL against the spread, going 11-7 in 2019 (including playoffs).
While the Packers may be thin at wide receiver outside of Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s offense has an advantage over Kirk Cousins and Minnesota’s offense, especially after the departure of Stefon Diggs. This shapes up as one of those intriguing, early season divisional matchups with two teams who know each other. Talent typically weighs out.
Jarrett’s Pick: GB (+2.5): Green Bay is simply the better overall team. I have more confidence in Preston and Za’Darius Smith along with the rest of a suddenly-vaunted Packers defense compared to Minnesota, and I think ultimately Green Bay will make more plays to win.
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5,) at Atlanta Falcons, Over/Under 49.5
The Seahawks acquisition of Jamal Adams took them from a good team to a great team. While they were solid defensively, adding the All-Pro safety made them complete and more in line with the teams that have brought historical success to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks organization.
While the direction the Falcons are heading in suggests optimism, their holes on defense will more than likely be exposed by one of the best quarterbacks in the game: Russell Wilson. Seattle was also 2-1-1 against the spread as an away favorite in 2019, which ranked seventh in the NFL.
A line of 1.5 points may be too generous. You may be able to get away with betting an alternate spread of something in the neighborhood of Seattle (-4.5). Atlanta’s offense has potential, but Seattle is far more talented as a team and should be able to cover.
Jarrett’s Pick: SEA (-1.5): Atlanta just has too many holes in their defense that Russell Wilson and company will exploit. Seattle wins somewhat convincingly.
Miami Dolphins (+6.5) at New England Patriots, Over/Under 43
The Patriots may be the most overrated team coming into 2020. Cam Newton has had just three winning seasons in eight full years as a starter. Plus, aside from his MVP year, he has been an average passer with below average accuracy. Along with that, the Patriots have no tight ends, their receivers aren’t great, the offensive line was terrible last year, and their defense lost key pieces.
The Dolphins finished 2019 with a respectable 9-7 record against the spread, including a Week 17 upset win in Foxborough. In addition, Miami finished 5-3 as away underdogs last season. Besides the fact that Miami produced against the spread in 2019, this pick is more about what the Patriots aren’t than what the Dolphins are. Miami is a young team that made splashes in free agency and the draft, and they will be competitors week in and week out if the recency effect holds true.
At any rate, this is an early season divisional matchup. Historically, the time to catch the Patriots is early in the season before they find their stride.
Jarrett’s Pick: MIA (+6.5): I won’t pick the Dolphins to win outright, but I do think their skill position players are better than that of New England’s, and I expect this to be a game won by a field goal or less.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals, Over/Under 43.5
It was a bad year for the Chargers in 2019, especially for those who bet on them consistently as they went 4-9-3 against the spread, which was the second-worst in the NFL. That said, they will be facing a Bengals team fielding a rookie quarterback and an offensive line that is adjusting and has new parts. As a team with new guys up front and a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut, the last person you want across the line of scrimmage is Joey Bosa, and that is who the Bengals will be going up against.
Although the Chargers will be without safety Derwin James, this is still an excellent defensive unit facing a rookie quarterback in his first start. I think Joe Burrow will be the Bengals’ guy for the next decade, but expect early growing pains in his first outing. Bengals fans, don’t overreact if things get hairy.
Jarrett’s Pick: LAC (-3.5): The Bengals will improve as the season goes on, but taking on one of the game’s best defense right out of the gates will lead to a slow start.
Arizona Cardinals (+7) at San Francisco 49ers, Over/Under 47.5
I think people forget just how well the Cardinals played the 49ers in their two meetings last season, losing both games by a combined 13 points, including a fluky defensive touchdown at the very end of one of the contests. Not only did the Cardinals play the 49ers well, but they also put up a fight in just about every game they played, finishing with the fifth-best record against the spread in regular season games.
Although their passing defense was the worst in the NFL last season, the 49ers are predominantly a run-first team. I’ll be interested to see how the Cardinals’ newest weapon, Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson, impacts their defense schematically, and perhaps most importantly, with his attitude and aggressiveness.
Giving Kyler Murray a receiver like DeAndre Hopkins to pair with Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald in the passing game should provide the Cardinals with one of the more dangerous air attacks in football. Combine that with the beginning of Kenyan Drake’s first full season in Arizona, and the Cardinals should have enough to keep this game closer than a touchdown.
Jarrett’s Pick: (ARI +7): The Cardinals are better than last season when they gave the 49ers two solid fights, and I expect them to keep this game close throughout, not to mention it’s an early season divisional matchup with two teams that know each other.
NFL Betting Lines 2020, Official Leans
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5), Over/Under 54.5
9.5 points is a plethora to cover in professional football, especially against a team that has one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Deshaun Watson — but if any team can do it, it’s the Chiefs. We saw them do exactly that to this very team in the playoffs last season, even after they spotted them a 21 point lead.
The Texans are now without DeAndre Hopkins, their defense is mediocre outside of J.J. Watt, and the Chiefs are basically running it back, only this time with a new weapon in Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU. I usually shy away from betting games with such big spreads, but with Kansas City, it feels almost routine.
Brandin Cooks is trending out for Thursday’s contest, and the Texans simply need all hands on deck on offense to keep pace.
Jarrett’s Lean: (KC -9.5): While I may be hesitant to pick such a big spread, I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking Kansas City and the points.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (+3), Over/Under 51.5
While the Rams are far from the same team that played in Super Bowl LII just 19 months ago, they still have an offensive guru head coach in Sean McVay and two elite defenders in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. If the Rams can become the balanced offensive attack they once were, the defense will be able to rest and be the formidable unit the Rams organization invested so much money and draft capital into developing.
Although Dallas added Everson Griffen to play alongside DeMarcus Lawrence, their secondary lost its top cornerback Byron Jones to the Dolphins, and we will see how they do against this dynamic passing game of the Rams. The Cowboys are typically a public betting darling, so in this contest, you have a “home underdog” and “fading the public” phenomenon aligning.
Jarrett’s Lean: LAR (+3): A trip to Los Angeles for the Cowboys makes me feel comfortable picking the Rams to cover the spread and take them at +3.
Week 1 Remaining Games
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3), Over/Under 44.5
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5), Over/Under 48.5
Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars, Over/Under 44.5
Las Vegas Raiders (-3) at Carolina Panthers, Over/Under 47.5
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5), Over/Under 39.5
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) at Washington Football Team, Over/Under 42.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5), Over/Under 49.5
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at New York Giants, Over/Under 47.5
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (-1.5), Over/Under 40.5
It will be interesting to see how Week 1 plays out after an offseason that featured no preseason games. How long will it take for teams’ rust to fully flake away? Only time will tell. Once this week is over, we will have a clearer vision of how teams look, and that will make a world of difference when Week 2 rolls around.
Until then, whether you are betting on spreads or bizarre prop bets, bet safely — we found this list of websites with legal betting in the U.S. that are all safe to use — and best of luck. Welcome back!
Jarrett Bailey is a betting analyst at the Pro Football Network (@PFN365). Follow the betting group @pfnbets and find all of our work here!