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Week 1 Lines and Bets

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It's never too early to start thinking about football again! The opening lines for Week 1 of the NFL were released this week and while we're still a month away from kickoff, we've already got football on our brains. We're offering our thoughts and analysis on Week 1 betting lines below.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2014

SEATTLE (-5) vs. Green Bay - Total: 45

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2014

ATLANTA (-2) vs. New Orleans - Total: 52
ST. LOUIS (-5) vs. Minnesota - Total: 46
PITTSBURGH (-5) vs. Cleveland - Total: 41
PHILADELPHIA (-11) vs. Jacksonville - Total: 52.5
NY JETS (-4.5) vs. Oakland - Total: 39.5
BALTIMORE (-2.5) vs. Cincinnati - Total: 43.5
CHICAGO (-6.5) vs. Buffalo - Total: 49
HOUSTON (-2.5) vs. Washington - Total: 46.5
KANSAS CITY (-5.5) vs. Tennessee - Total: 44
MIAMI (+3.5) over New England - Total: 47
TAMPA BAY (+2.5) vs. Carolina - Total: 40.5
DALLAS (+3.5) vs. San Francisco - Total: 48.5
DENVER (-7) vs. Indianapolis - Total: 55.5

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014

DETROIT (-4) vs. NY Giants - Total: 45.5
ARIZONA (-3.5) vs. San Diego - Total: 44.5

*Home teams in BOLD

FIRST THOUGHTS

Green Bay (+5) may be a strong play on the opening night of the season. The Packers were a playoff team last year despite playing without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for half the season. Rodgers returned in Week 17 and GB won the NFC North and lost to San Francisco in the Wild Card round on a 49ers game-winning field goal as time expired. Green Bay is 5-2 SU & ATS in season-opening games with Rodgers at the helm and the defending Super Bowl champions are just 2-3 ATS in the opening game of the season, losing the last two games outright (NY Giants in 2012 & Baltimore in 2013). The last defending Super Bowl champion to win its season opener was the Green Bay Packers in 2011. This line may be a little too high.

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Another line that may be too high is the Denver (-7) over Indianapolis. The Broncos went to the Super Bowl a season ago and this line may be inflated due to that fact alone. Indy is off of a strong year in which it won the AFC South and a playoff game. The Colts, behind stud quarterback Andrew Luck, are a young squad that is ever-improving. They were one of only three teams to beat the Broncos last year as they handed Denver its first loss of the season on Sunday Night Football on October 20th. They get another shot at the Broncos in primetime and this could be another closely contested game.

Philadelphia owns the highest opening week line (-11) at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Eagles had a lot of things go right for them in 2013 - a weak NFC East, Nick Foles throwing 27 TD and only 2 INT - and they finished the season 7-1 and notched a playoff berth (lost at home to New Orleans in the Wild Card round). Jacksonville closed out the season 4-4 after an 0-8 start. The Jags showed solid improvement under first year coach Gus Bradley and the arrow is definitely pointing up. They closed out the season on a 4-1 ATS run on the road while Philly was just 4-4 SU & 3-5 ATS at home last season. This could be a solid situation for a play on the road underdog.

The lowest total in Week 1 is in the NY Jets-Oakland matchup at 39.5 points. Offensively it makes sense as the Jets averaged just 18.1 PPG (29th in the NFL) while the Raiders were just slightly better at 20.1 PPG (24th in the NFL) last season. However, neither of these teams were very strong defensively. The Jets were 19th in points allowed and the Raiders were 29th in points allowed. Who is going to stop the other?

- The OVER is 29-18-1 in Week 1 games over the last three seasons
- Week 1 double digit favorites are 4-6 ATS over the past eight seasons
- Week 1 Monday Night Football favorites are 6-10 ATS over the past eight seasons
- There is no discernible advantage to blindly betting underdogs in week one as the favorites have just a slight 65-62-1 ATS advantage over the past eight seasons

SOLID EARLY BETS

Arizona (-3.5) over San Diego
The Cardinals were 6-2 at home last season, losing only to Seattle and San Francisco, arguably the two best teams in the NFL in 2013. They had dominating wins over playoff squads Carolina (by 16 points) and Indianapolis (29 points) while adding solid wins over St. Louis (20 points) and Atlanta (14 points) for good measure. San Diego snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 record last year after winning its final four games but could have a difficult time opening the season on the road here.

New Orleans (+2) over Atlanta
New Orleans won both meetings with Atlanta last year and is 8-2 SU against the Falcons since 2009. Atlanta endured a disastrous season in 2013 and while many tab the Falcons to be much improved in 2014, this is a tough way to kick off the season. The Saints ranked in the top five in both total offense and total defense last season. They won at Philadelphia in the Wild Card round and gave eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle a run for their money in the Divisional round. This is a solid underdog situation here.

UNDER 48.5 Dallas vs. San Francisco
The 49ers had just one game last year where the total was set higher than 48.5 (Week 11 at New Orleans). San Francisco allowed just 16.3 PPG over the final nine games of the season, including playoffs, and not one of those opponents exceeded 24 points. Dallas' defense was the worst in the NFL in yards allowed in 2013. They haven't done anything to improve that unit this offseason so it's a good bet that it'll be bad again. However, with San Francisco's run-heavy offense and solid defense, we don't expect that these two will be involved in a shootout.

  
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