Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:02 PM
Week 1 - Sunday Blitz
GAMES TO WATCH
Texans at Patriots (-6 ½, 51) – 1:00 PM EST
The last time New England took the field, the Patriots were favored to beat the Eagles in Super Bowl LII. However, the Patriots were torched by Nick Foles as Philadelphia won, 41-33 to deny New England its sixth title in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.
The last time Deshaun Watson took the field, the rookie from Clemson threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 setback at Seattle in Week 8 of 2017. Unfortunately, Watson tore his ACL in practice several days later and was lost for the season. Houston’s playoff hopes went down the drain as the Texans lost eight of their final nine games, while covering only twice in this span.
The Patriots and Texans hooked up in Week 3 last season at Gillette Stadium in Watson’s second career start. Houston led 20-14 late in the second quarter and took a 33-28 advantage in the fourth quarter before Brady hooked up with Brandin Cooks on a 25-yard touchdown connection to give New England a 36-33 triumph. The Texans cashed as hefty 13 ½-point underdogs, while Watson proved to be a future star at quarterback by throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns, but Brady diced up Houston for five touchdown passes.
New England falls in a great fade system as Super Bowl losers from the previous season own a dreadful 2-16-1 ATS record in the following season’s opening game. Two of the last three teams in the situation lost straight-up, while Atlanta crept past Chicago last season, 23-17 as seven-point road favorites.
Best Bet: Patriots 24, Texans 20
Chiefs at Chargers (-3 ½, 48) – 4:05 PM EST
Kansas City has captured the AFC West title the last two seasons, but the Chiefs have moved on from veteran Alex Smith at quarterback. The future is former Texas Tech standout Pat Mahomes II, as he opposes Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers, who is still seeking his first Super Bowl appearance.
Los Angeles is a popular pick to make the playoffs this season and to even advance to the Super Bowl according to several of our NFL experts. The Chargers lost their first four games of 2017, but bolting all the way into the playoff discussion by winning six of their last seven contests to finish 9-7. However, L.A. couldn’t get over the hump against Kansas City, as the Chiefs pulled off the season sweep of the Chargers with both victories coming by double-digits.
The Chiefs were one half away from advancing to the divisional playoff round last season, but melted down after building a 21-3 lead against Tennessee and were bounced by the Titans, 22-21. Since 2015, Andy Reid’s squad has been money on the road against AFC West opponents by posting an impressive 8-1 SU/ATS record with the only loss coming in a last-second defeat at Oakland in 2017.
Since the Chargers swept the Chiefs in 2013, Kansas City has grabbed the last eight matchups in the series, while covering six times. This is the first time the Chargers are favored over the Chiefs since 2014 when Kansas City won at San Diego, 23-20 as three-point underdogs.
Best Bet: Chiefs 27, Chargers 23
Cowboys at Panthers (-3, 42 ½) – 4:25 PM EST
Four teams finished winless in the preseason as Dallas belonged in that dubious club. Atlanta also went 0-4 in exhibition season and dropped its opener to Philadelphia on Thursday. The Cowboys finished last season on a high note by winning four of their final five contests, but couldn’t duplicate their 13-3 record from 2016.
Carolina rebounded from a last-place finish in the NFC South two seasons ago to an 11-5 record in 2017 and a playoff berth. Although the Panthers fell short in the Wild Card round to the Saints, Carolina covered the spread in seven of its final 10 games of the season. Unfortunately, Carolina couldn’t get over the hump against New Orleans by losing three times to its division rival, but beat three playoff teams at home (Buffalo, Atlanta, and Minnesota).
Since Dak Prescott has taken over as starting quarterback in Dallas, the Cowboys have posted back-to-back 6-2 records on the road the last two seasons. Dallas is making its first trip to Charlotte since 2012, when the Cowboys held off the Panthers, 19-14. However, Cam Newton and the Panthers crushed the Cowboys in the last matchup on Thanksgiving Day 2015 in a 33-14 rout at AT&T Stadium.
From a totals perspective, the Cowboys finished 2017 by cashing the UNDER in eight of the last nine contests. Carolina has hit the UNDER in five of the past six season openers, while the Panthers are opening the season at Bank of America Stadium for the first time since dropping a 12-7 decision to the Seahawks in 2013.
Best Bet: Cowboys 20, Panthers 16
Pittsburgh -3 ½
San Francisco +6 ½
Tampa Bay +9 ½
Detroit -6 ½
Miami +1 ½
N.Y. Jets +6 ½
L.A. Rams -4
Green Bay over Chicago
Baltimore over Buffalo
BEST TOTAL PLAY
UNDER 43 ½ - Redskins at Cardinals
Both teams will showcase new quarterbacks as Alex Smith starts for Washington, while Sam Bradford makes his Arizona debut. These teams squared off last season in D.C. as the Redskins edged the Cardinals, 20-15 on a 40 total, while Arizona scored all 15 of its points on field goals. Yes, the quarterbacks are different, but under Jay Gruden, the Redskins have scored 17 points or fewer in all four season openers since he took over in 2014.
TRAP OF THE WEEK
The Jaguars travel to New York (or New Jersey) to face the Giants after reaching the AFC championship last season. Jacksonville opened as a four-point favorite, but that line has dipped down to three at several books. The Jags lost three of four games to NFC opponents last season, including road favorite defeats at Arizona and San Francisco.
BIGGEST LINE MOVE
The Steelers will be without running back Le’Veon Bell on Sunday against the Browns as he continues to hold out. Bell’s impact is seen in the line as Pittsburgh opened as seven-point favorites at the Westgate Superbook in Vegas, but has dropped to 4 ½. The Steelers won both meetings with the Browns last season, but Cleveland covered each time as a 10-point ‘dog and 5-point ‘dog.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW
The Broncos have dominated at home in September over the years by winning 11 consecutive games. Denver owns a 7-2-2 ATS record in this span with the two non-covers coming as a favorite of eight points or more. Denver hosts Seattle on Sunday as the Seahawks have lost six straight road games in September. For more Trends to Watch, click here.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.