Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (under 52.5)
The Pats will be without LeGarrette Blount (suspension) and top wideout Julian Edelman has been upgraded to probable, but has been slowed by an ankle injury that has hobbled him throughout the preseason. Pittsburgh has its own problems with All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey on the shelf and two-thirds of the "Killer B's" (Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant) out with suspensions. The lack of big-play threats coupled with two above average defenses lends itself perfectly to the under in this early season battle for AFC supremacy.
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Green Bay Packers (-6) over Chicago Bears
Aaron Rodgers is 12-3 in his career versus the Bears which includes a 5-2 record (including postseason) at Soldier Field. Second-year receiver Davante Adams will look to establish himself as a legitimate go-to threat with the absence of Jordy Nelson and the shoulder injury slowing Randall Cobb. Look for Lacy and Rodgers to take advantage of a suspect defense and lead the Pack to a double-digit opening day victory and establish themselves once again as the team to beat in the NFC North.
Kansas City Chiefs (+1) over Houston Texans
Andy Reid enters his third season with Kansas City looking to add to a 20-12 record while guiding his Chiefs to a second postseason appearance. Jeremy Maclin comes over from Philly to provide the Chiefs a true number one receiver to pair with team receiving yards leader Travis Kelce (862 yards) and perennial all-pro Jamaal Charles to add some sizzle to an offense that ranked sixteenth in total offense. No Arian Foster means no offensive balance and that will allow one of the league's elite secondaries to key in on DeAndre Hopkins. Take Kansas City to emerge victorious in a low scoring defensive war.
New York Jets (- 2.5) over Cleveland Browns
The Todd Bowles era begins as the Jets hope to erase the memories of Rex Ryan's last three seasons in which the team compiled an 18-30 record. The former all-pro cornerback tandem of Antonio Cromartie and "Revis Island" is reunited with two-thirds of the "Sons of Anarchy" (Wilkerson and Harrison) who will provide plenty of resistance up the middle to shut down a mediocre Cleveland backfield and a less-than mobile quarterback in McCown. Lay the points with Gang Green.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) over Tennessee Titans
By the time this game is over either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota will have guided their team to half the number of wins each team had in all of 2014. It's safe to say that Winston has the better set of skill position players with Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Doug Martin, but Mariota is playing behind the better offensive line so it should be interesting. Tampa Bay should be one of the most improved teams in the league this season, and according to professional handicapper Marc Lawrence, the team finishing last, or tied for last, have won the NFC South 11 of the last 12 years the next season.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) over Oakland Raiders
The Bengals have made the playoffs in five of the last six seasons including, four straight when they haven't won a game. This could be the year that Marvin Lewis takes this group to the next level and legitimately contends for an AFC crown. Cincinnati simply has more talent everywhere and Oakland is about two years from getting back in the playoff mix so lay the points here as the Bengals cruise to an easy cover.
Denver Broncos (-4.5) over Baltimore Ravens
It has to be unsettling for new Denver coach Gary Kubiak to know that his predecessor was fired after averaging over 12 wins a year. John Elway has retooled this roster on the fly in hopes of giving Manning the similar kind of support he had late in his career when he guided the Broncos to back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. Expect Denver to rush the passer, shut down a depleted Ravens receiving corps defensively and control the offensive flow with C.J. Anderson.
New York Giants/Dallas Cowboys (over 51)
The Giants and Cowboys both come limping into this matchup with key pieces absent from the mix. Big Blue likely will be without the services of Victor Cruz (calf) and Jason Pierre Paul (finger). Dallas hopes to survive the opening month without Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain, who are facing suspensions, and Orlando Scandrick, who tore his ACL. Both defenses will struggle early in the year and Eli Manning and Tony Romo should have plenty of time to look downfield for the big play. Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant are worth the price of admission alone here so jump on this total early or you may see the number move up by game time.
Buffalo Bills (+2.5) over Indianapolis Colts
The fans in Orchard Park will be charged up for the Rex Ryan era to begin, and with the addition of Shady McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay the new-look Bills offense should have the horses to compete with Indy. Despite the flashy additions of Frank Gore (1,106 yards rushing) and Andre Johnson (936 yards receiving) the Colts did little to address a very shaky offensive line. Expect Rex to keep Luck off-balance with a variety of defensive looks as the Orchard Park magic comes alive to help the home dog cash in upstate New York. Rest assured Bills fans, Kelly and Ryan's next adult beverage at The Big Tree Inn will be a happy one.
Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins (under 44)
Kirk Cousins will try and be the game manager Jay Gruden envisions by making plays from the pocket and executing the game plan efficiently. Miami's revamped defense led by Ndamukong Suh should apply pressure to the Washington backfield early and often, but the preseason inconsistencies of Ryan Tannehill may carry over and prohibit the Fins from pulling too far ahead. Look for a heavy dose of the running game from both sides as defense rules the day.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) over Carolina Panthers
Last season home dogs cashed a .585 percent clip during the 2014 season and it has consistently been one of the more reliable betting trends in the NFL since 2010. Cam Newton will struggle to build a rapport with a new, inexperienced set of receivers and the Jags should be able to limit the effectiveness of the Carolina running attack. Blake Bortles may get some more good news if the Panthers elite defensive Star Lotulelei sits, but that appears to be headed to a game-time decision. Take the home dog and the points in a game that may come down to a last minute field goal.
Seattle Seahawks (-4) over St. Louis Rams
There will be absolutely no subscribing to the home dog theory in this matchup. The news of Earl Thomas practicing will help shore up a defense with some holes. Strong safety Kam Chancellor remains a holdout, but even without him the NFL's best secondary should be able to lock the Rams down on the outside and limit Nick Foles' time in the pocket. Lay the points with the better team.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) over New Orleans Saints
Carson Palmer comes back to lead a Super Bowl-caliber defense as his Cards hope to build on an 11-win season and give the franchise back-to-back playoff appearances for just the third time since the team relocated to the desert. Arizona will feature one of the league's elite defensive backfields, and with the departures of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, the Saints offense may struggle early to find a passing rhythm. Lay the short home price with the better team as Bruce Arians continues to build a winning culture in the valley of the sun.
San Diego Chargers (-3) over Detroit Lions
The Lions have never won a road game in San Diego (0-4 lifetime) and have lost all four contests by an average score of 33-20. Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford will look to utilize the passing game to get ahead, but it may actually be the ground attack that wins it for the Bolts. If Chargers rookie halfback Melvin Gordon can outduel his counterpart Ameer Abdullah that may in fact be the difference in the game. Look for history to repeat itself in this contest as the Chargers find a way to keep the Lions winless in San Diego.
Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons (over 55.5)
Chip Kelly brings his hybrid offense to the Georgia Dome for a primetime matchup with rookie head coach Dan Quinn and his Falcons. Even with Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and Falcons wideout Roddy White game-time decisions, this game has all the makings of a track meet. Matt Ryan has won nearly 75 percent of his home starts. and with new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan dialing up Julio Jones' number, this passing offense should be one of the best in the league. DeMarco Murray becomes the first back since Bill Dudley 68 years ago to switch teams the season after leading the league in rushing and that chip on his shoulder just became a boulder. This game is my candidate to be the highest scoring matchup of Week 1 and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the two teams combined to score 70-or-more points.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (under 42)
One can only imagine how fired up Adrian Peterson will be to get back onto the gridiron. Both defensive units appear to be ahead of their offensive counterparts, with two defensive-minded head coaches in Mike Zimmer and Jim Tomsula you can expect the play calling to be a bit conservative to open the season, so 42 is a generous total for this game. Be sure to bet this game before Monday because the total is sure to see some late movement.