Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season finally starts tomorrow after an agonizingly long hiatus. The return of pro football is a welcome one for pigskin-starved fans who have been waiting since February to watch a game after the preseason—which was supposed to begin in early August—was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the lack of exhibition games, there is no shortage of excitement surrounding the Week 1 season-openers, which begin on Thursday evening with the 2020 NFL Kickoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. This will serve as a thrilling lead-in to an action-packed Sunday schedule that will see 26 teams take the field for the first time during the 2020 NFL season. Week 1 will conclude with the traditional season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader, which will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants to start things off, followed by the Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos to wrap up the first week.
There may be no group more antsy for the return of football than NFL bettors, who have waited seven long months to wager on a game. Whether you are someone who bets against the spread on individual contests or participates in a survivor pool or makes weekly picks with your co-workers, it’s important to get off to a good start when betting the 2020 NFL season. This year, perhaps more than ever before, there is a large amount of value to be unearthed during the initial weeks of the campaign. There is a severe lack of information and intelligence on how teams will fare during the upcoming season—which is often the case in a normal year, but especially true in 2020 due to the cancelled preseason and abbreviated training camp schedule—and an abundance of soft lines up on the board at sportsbooks. Oddsmakers, along with the betting public, are still figuring out how each of the NFL’s 32 clubs will fare after all a wild offseason that involved coaching changes, free agency, the draft, player development, coronavirus-related opt outs and other factors that all will play a role in shifting the league’s power structure. It is a lot to sort through for even a professional gambler, let alone a casual bettor looking to make some smart picks against the spread.
Fortunately, pro handicapper Jon Price of SportsInformationTraders.com will be helping out during the 2020 NFL season by providing weekly predictions for every primetime game and leans on the top Sunday daytime matchups. Price has been on fire with his Week 1 picks since the 2016 campaign began, going 13-3 ATS—including 3-1 last year—on his initial picks for the year. If you want to get started on the right foot, look no further than the end of this article to find some can’t-miss predictions for the season-openers. Before getting to Price’s in-depth projections for Sunday’s marquee matchups, have a look at the full schedule, kickoff start times, TV and live stream viewing info, updated odds and more for each game during Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow either for a full betting guide, preview and can’t-miss predictions for the 2020 NFL Kickoff game.
NFL Week 1 Odds And TV Schedule
Matchup, Start Time ET, Network (Spread, Total)
Thursday, September 10
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m., NBC (KC -9.5, 54)
Sunday, September 13
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS (NE -6.5, 43)
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. CBS (BAL -8, 48.5)
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. CBS (BUF -6.5, 39.5)
Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. CBS (LV -2.5, 47.5)
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. FOX (SEA -1.5, 49)
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team, 1 p.m., FOX (PHI -6, 43)
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. FOX (DET -3, 44)
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m., CBS (IND -7.5, 45)
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX (MIN -2.5, 46)
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:05 p.m. CBS (LAC -3.5, 44)
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. FOX (SF -7, 47)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m. FOX (NO -3.5, 49.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m., NBC (DAL -2.5, 51.5)
Monday, September 14
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants, 7:15 p.m., ESPN (PIT -4, 47.5)
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos, 10:10 p.m., ESPN (DEN -1.5, 41)
Thursday’s 2020 NFL Kickoff game will be live streamed via NBC Sports. Sunday Night Football will also be streaming via NBC Sports, while the Monday Night Football doubleheader will be streamed on WatchESPN. Out-of-market football games during the 2020 NFL season can be live streamed via purchase of NFL Game Pass.
NFL Week 1 Notable Betting Trends
- The Kansas City Chiefs have won and covered in each of their last nine games, a stretch that includes a victory in last season’s AFC Divisional round in which Kansas City came back from a 24-0 deficit to win 51-31, covering the 10-point spread as favorites in the process. The Chiefs and Texans meet again in the 2020 NFL Kickoff game, for which Kansas City is currently favored by 9.5 at home.
- The Cleveland Browns are 3-1 ATS and 2-2 SU over their last four games against the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns were one of the worst teams in the NFL to bet on last year—going 5-10-1 ATS—but have found a way to consistently put up a fight against this AFC North rival. Cleveland stunned the Ravens early in the 2019 campaign with a 40-25 victory as 7.5-point underdogs and will look to pull off a similar feat in Week 1 as eight-point ‘dogs on the road in Baltimore for Week 1.
- The total has gone UNDER in 20 of the last 28 games involving the Buffalo Bills when quarterback Josh Allen started under center. Buffalo takes on the New York Jets in Week 1 in a matchup that has the lowest projected total on the board right now at 39.5 points. The Bills are also sizable favorites in this season-opener, giving 6.5 points to their AFC East rivals.
- Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has guided his teams to a 27-7 ATS record as a starter and boasts a 17-3 ATS record as an underdog. Bridgewater will be making his Carolina debut in a game his team is not expected to win, as the Panthers are getting 2.5 points at home in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders. The signal-caller has proved dangerous to doubt in these situations in the past and could once again show he’s not to be underestimated during the 2020 NFL season.
- The Atlanta Falcons are 1-4 ATS and 2-3 SU in season openers over the last five seasons. The Falcons have a tough matchup in store when they host the Seattle Seahawks to start the 2020 NFL season, a game that the visitors are favored in by 1.5 points.
- Five of the last six matchups between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings have landed UNDER the total. The over/under for their Week 1 clash is set at 46 points. These fierce NFC North rivals will be meeting for the 120th time on Sunday in a battle that oddsmakers believe will be quite evenly matched. Minnesota holds the slight edge against the spread, laying 2.5 points at home to a Packers opponent that has not traveled well in recent years. Since 2016, Green Bay is just 16-18-1 ATS away from Lambeau Field, while the Vikings boast the best home winning percentage in the league (65.6%, 21-11-1 ATS) during that time.
- The Los Angeles Rams are 0-7-1 over their last eight games as a home underdog. The Rams will be hoping that trend ends at SoFi Stadium, their new home that will be making its debut in a nationally televised Sunday Night Football game to start the 2020 NFL season. Los Angeles is getting three points in their impending Week 1 bout with the Dallas Cowboys.
NFL Week 1 Picks Against The Spread
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
No team in the league went OVER the total more than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, as the squad led the league with 12 overs in 16 matchups. The club improved at several offensive positions in the offseason, most notably signing Tom Brady away from the New England Patriots to provide stability and veteran leadership after a tumultuous five years with Jameis Winston—who was responsible for 88 interceptions in that span—under center. The Bucs also lured former Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski out of retirement after a year away from the NFL, plus upgraded the offensive line—they used a first-round selection on tackle Tristan Wirfs—and added an immense talent to their backfield by acquiring Leonard Fournette after the back was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Factor in Tampa’s tandem of star receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and it’s safe to say this offense should be even more explosive than last year’s unit, which averaged 397.9 yards and 28.6 points per game, the third- and fourth-best marks in the league respectively.
The Buccaneers will face off with the New Orleans Saints to open the 2020 NFL season. The total on this game is set at 49.5 points, the third highest over/under on the board in Week 1. It should hardly come as a surprise the line is so lofty, however, as four of the last five matchups between these longtime NFC South rivals have eclipsed the number. The average total in those contests was 58.2 points and it looks like another barn burner is in store for fans when the Saints and Bucs meet again on Sunday. It’s also possible that an upset may be brewing for New Orleans, a squad that has consistently struggled in season-openers over the last six years. The Saints have failed to cover in a single Week 1 matchup over the last six years and are just 1-5 SU—including a 48-40 defeat to the Bucs in 2018—in that span. The team has become notorious for starting slow with head coach Sean Payton at the helm, who has won just five of the 14 season kickoff games since he took over the reins in 2006.
Field Yates noted that the two starting quarterbacks involved in this showdown will make history when they take the field on Sunday:
Price believes that there are still plenty of question marks surrounding the Buccaneers this year, including how their defense will fare a year after giving up 28.1 points per game to the opposition—the fourth-worst mark in the league—but there is plenty to be excited about. Starting the 2020 NFL season with a victory for their retooled roster should put many doubts to rest about their ability to be a legit contender. There has been a culture change in the team’s locker room and it’s likely to pay off in Week 1 with an upset win over a division rival. There may not be too many more opportunities to play the Bucs as an underdog this season, so take the points while you can get them and watch as Tampa puts the NFL on notice with a high-scoring statement win against the Saints.
Pick: Buccaneers +3.5
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
The last six Super Bowl losers are 5-1 SU but 1-5 ATS in their first game of the following season. The San Francisco 49ers suffered a tough defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs back in February and history is not on their side to bounce back from it. Only eight teams have been able to shake off a Super Bowl loss and get back to the big game the following year, while only three of those were able to win after returning. The Niners will need to put together a campaign that results with a postseason trip before they can even consider getting revenge for letting the Lombardi Trophy slip out of their grasp, something far easier said than done for runner-up clubs in recent years. Three of the last four organizations to lose a Super Bowl did not even make it into the playoffs the next year, with only the New England Patriots going on to win it all the year after failing on the biggest stage against the Philadelphia Eagles.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan believes his squad is capable of pulling off a similar feat as New England, stating the following immediately after losing his first Super Bowl as a head coach (via ProFootballTalk):
“It shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll lick our wounds, we’ll get over this. We’ll be fired up for next year, we got a lot of people coming back. I think we surprised a lot of people this year. We knew we had a really good team. I’m very proud of the guys and how much better they got throughout this year, and I expect to get almost all of these guys back and plan on adding a few more. We’re going to rest a little bit, get over this, but we’ll be very fired up for next year.”
The Niners are heavily favored to start the 2020 NFL season, but they will be facing a divisional opponent in the Arizona Cardinals that has given them a lot of trouble in the past. Since the start of the 2015 campaign, Arizona is 8-2 SU and 6-3-1 ATS against San Francisco. The Cardinals were a consistently solid bet during head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s first season—compiling a 9-5-2 ATS record overall, one of the best marks in the NFL—and they were especially strong when getting points away from Glendale, finishing with a 5-1-2 ATS record as a road underdog. The Cardinals are 7.5-point underdogs at Levi’s Stadium in Week 1, which looks to be too many considering these teams engaged in a pair of tight matchups last year. Arizona may have lost in both instances, but stayed within three points at home and lost by 10 on the road in a game that was much closer than the final score suggests, as the Cards held a lead going into the final minutes of the contest.
Because of the history here, as well as expected improvement from key players like quarterback Kyler Murray and the massive offseason acquisition of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, it’s wise to lean towards Arizona making it interesting on Sunday afternoon. Laying 7.5 points with the 49ers is too much against a foe that has repeatedly showed that it can hang around. Instead, go with the underdog Cardinals as a value play, as they should at least scare the San Fran in Week 1, if not outright win. The Niners could be well on their way to suffering a dreaded Super Bowl hangover during the 2020 NFL season, so fade them to start it against a foe that they simply haven’t been able to figure out.
Pick: Cardinals +7.5