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Week 1 lines released

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas didn’t waste any time after the NFL released its schedule for the 2013 season Thursday night. LVH sent out its opening lines for Week 1 around 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday.

In the Thursday night lid-lifter, the defending Super Bowl champs will go on the road to take on Denver. Baltimore won an epic double-overtime game over the Broncos in the AFC semifinals on its way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy a few months ago.

But the Ravens are going to be a different team in 2013 following the exits of franchise stalwarts and future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. This was clear when LVH opened Denver as a nine-point home favorite with a total of 48.5. The side was quickly adjusted to 8.5.

Peyton Manning had to be pleased when his squad signed wide receiver Wes Welker, who will join a WR unit that includes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.

Sean Payton will return to the sidelines for the first time since January of 2012 when New Orleans hosts arch-rival Atlanta in an NFC South showdown. The Saints opened as 2.5-point favorites with a total of 54. This is the highest total on the Week 1 board.

The Falcons have made a pair of key acquisitions with the signings of DE Osi Yumenyiora and RB Steven Jackson, who will share carries with Jacquizz Rodgers following the release of Michael Turner. Even better, the team succeeded in talking TE Tony Gonzalez into playing one more season.

New England will open the season at Orchard Park against the Bills as a seven-point road ‘chalk.’ The total is 53, the second-highest Week 1 tally.

The Patriots attempted to compensate for the loss of Welker by signing veteran WR Danny Amendola away from the Rams. Unless Buffalo makes a move in the draft, it might be looking at Tarvaris Jackson as the starting QB in 2013. Yikes!

Pittsburgh will be in bounce-back mode after missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record last season. The Steelers are favored by 6.5 vs. Tennessee in their opener. The total is 43.5.

Mike Tomlin’s team will be looking to address the wide receiver position in the draft following the loss of Mike Wallace to the Dolphins in free agency.

Speaking of the ‘Fins, they will open as one-point road favorites at Cleveland. The total is 41.

After a turbulent 6-10 campaign, Rex Ryan’s job will be on the line in 2013. The Jets opened as one-point home favorites vs. Tampa Bay. The total started at 41.5.

The biggest question mark for this game is what uniform Darrelle Revis will be wearing. The Jets and Bucs have been engaged in trade talks for nearly a month, and those discussions will only heat up going into the draft.

The Jags are going to be horrible – again! Jacksonville is so bad that it is a home underdog against a Kansas City team that also went 2-14 last year. LVH installed the Chiefs as 2.5-point road favorites with a total of 39.5.

I find it mind-boggling that this franchise hasn’t given up on Blaine Gabbert yet. Furthermore, I find it incomprehensible that (barring a major move in the draft) the Jags have the audacity to sell their fan base on a QB competition between Gabbert and Chad Henne.

If Jacksonville does indeed go into the year with those two scrubs as its top signal callers, it will be begging to go 2-14 again. I’m not going to turn this into a Tim Tebow conversation but even the biggest Tebow haters would concede that the local icon can produce more victories than the Gabbert-Henne combo.

Alex Smith will be making his debut for the new-look Chiefs, who have lots of talent for Andy Reid to work with. Smith has playmakers in RB Jamaal Charles, RB/WR Dexter McCluster and WR Dwayne Bowe, and the team appears poised to take Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel with the No. 1 pick in next week’s draft.

The Marc Trestman Era in Chicago will commence when the Bears host the Bengals as 3.5-point home favorites. The total opened at 45.

Chicago will be playing its first game without LB Brian Urlacher in more than a decade. Meanwhile, Marvin Lewis will be trying to lead the Bengals to the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

Seattle will open at Carolina as a 3.5-point road ‘chalk.’ The total started at 45.5.

Is there an NFL team with more momentum going into 2013 than the Seahawks? I don’t think so. Russell Wilson emerged as a star as a rookie QB and he’s only going to get better, especially after his team traded for Percy Harvin last month.

On the day of the trade, many analysts debated if Harvin was a risk or if he was worth a first-round pick. Seriously?!?

You damn right he’s a risk – a risk to get into the end zone 15 times a year. Harvin is the NFL’s best kick return man (sorry, Devin Hester, but that’s the truth) and one of its most versatile weapons. Harvin can line up in the backfield, run reverses, stretch the defense with deep routes and turn short catches into big gainers.

After a stellar rookie campaign, Carolina’s Cam Newton suffered through a sophomore slump in 2012. And his body language was terrible. Newton clearly has all the tools but he has a lot to prove in his third season. We’ll find out if he has matured enough to be an elite NFL quarterback in 2013.

Detroit was the league’s biggest disappointment last season, going from a playoff team to a 4-12 squad. The Lions open at home against the Vikings as 2.5-point favorites. The total started at 47.

Minnesota was the biggest surprise last year, making the playoffs via a thrilling home win over Green Bay in Week 17. Unfortunately for the Vikes, they had to go to Lambeau the following week and starting QB Christian Ponder was unable to go due to an injury.

Another surprise playoff team last year was Indianapolis, which will open up against the Raiders as a seven-point home favorite. The total is 49.

St. Louis looks like a team on the rise following a 7-8-1 campaign under Jeff Fisher. LVH installed the Rams as six-point home favorites vs. division-rival Arizona with a total of 40.

In a rematch of last year’s NFC semifinals, San Francisco will host Green Bay as a 5.5-point home favorite with a total of 50.5. The Packers are going to be looking for more WR weapons in next week’s draft. They lost Gregg Jennings to the rival Vikings via free agency and Donald Driver retired.

Dallas will take on the Giants in the Sunday primetime game at Jerry World in Arlington. The Cowboys are 2.5-point home favorites with a total of 49.

Both organizations are coming off disappointing seasons that came up shy of playoff berths. Nevertheless, Jerry Jones continues to show faith in Tony Romo, who inked a lucrative long-term contract three weeks ago.

The doubleheader concept for Monday Night Football was a stroke of genius. In fact, I’m ready for the league to add more MNF double-dips throughout the regular season.

This year’s MNF opener will take place in Washington, where the Redskins are favored by 5.5 vs. Philadelphia. The total is 51.

All indications are that Robert Griffin III is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery and could be ready in Week 1. But Kirk Cousins proved that he’s a quality NFL quarterback as a rookie, so I don’t believe the line will move much regardless of RG3’s status.

The late-night game will go down in Southern California, as San Diego hosts Houston as a 3.5-point home underdog. The total is 46.

Week 1 Lines
Favorite Underdog Pointspread Total
Denver Baltimore 9 ½ 49 ½
New England Buffalo 7 53 ½
Pittsburgh Tennessee 6 ½ 43 ½
New Orleans Atlanta 2 ½ 54 ½
N.Y. Jets Tampa Bay PK 41 ½
Kansas City Jacksonville 2 ½ 41
Chicago Cincinnati 3 ½ 45 ½
Miami Cleveland 1 42
Seattle Carolina 3 ½ 45 ½
Detroit Minnesota 3 47
Indianapolis Oakland 7 49
St. Louis Arizona 6 41
San Francisco Green Bay 5 ½ 50 ½
Dallas N.Y. Giants 2 ½ 49
Washington Philadelphia 5 ½ 51
Houston San Diego 3 ½ 47
*Bold indicates home team

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