Over the course of this year's 2020 NFL season, the SI Gambling team, along with a few of our friends from the SI MMQB NFL team are putting our collective heads together to pick our top game of the week against the spread. We'll keep track over the course of the year for bragging rights as well as transparency.
Our SI Gambling Insider Frankie Taddeo got things going with the UNDER 54.5 in Thursday night's Chiefs/Texans matchup, which held on thanks to that half-point hook. SI Fantasy PRO members received that pick Thursday morning several hours before the line shifted down to 53.5.
Before checking out the team's selections and "best bets," here are the latest Week 1 lines at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.
NFL Best Bets for Week 1
Please note: These are our FREE picks, not our PREMIUM picks which are reserved for MEMBERS only. Members receive alert notifications immediately upon pick release.
Ben Heisler (@bennyheis)
COWBOYS at RAMS (+3)
I couldn't decide whether I loved the Rams +3 or the UNDER 51.5 more, so while I'll be betting both, I'll discuss the joy I'll take in fading the Cowboys to begin the 2020 season in prime time.
For as much flack as the Rams took last year, they actually finished second in the NFL against the spread. Both the Rams and Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs went 10-5-1 ATS in the regular season, with only the New Orleans Saints (11-5-0) ATS finishing ahead of them. Expect a ton of play-action as the Rams will be rotating Malcolm Brown, rookie Cam Akers and possibly Darrell Henderson to help open up passing lanes for Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee in the middle of the field.
As for Dallas, while I believe the hype surrounding their offense is real, there's still so much unknown with a new head coach in Mike McCarthy calling plays and not having any sort of preseason to get back in rhythm. Plus, SI Rams insider Eric Williams anticipates Jalen Ramsey to shadow Amari Cooper for much of the game to help slow down Dallas' passing attack.
It will be a close game that likely stays in the mid-40s, and I like the Rams to cover at home.
BEST BET: LOS ANGELES +3
Frankie Taddeo (@Frankie_Fantasy)
CARDINALS (+7) at 49ERS I TOTAL: 48
Arizona moved up and down the field last year on San Francisco's top ranked defense. Kyler Murray with a full season under his belt now has one of the premier wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins. Grab the full touchdown or more in Week 1 with arguably one the best "live" 'dogs on the opening card.
BEST BET: ARIZONA +7.5 (has since moved to +6.5 at DK Sportsbook)
Corey Parson (@TheFantasyExec)
PACKERS at VIKINGS (-2.5) I TOTAL: 45
I have told anyone that would listen that I am putting a few dollars on Kirk Cousins to be the league's MVP on DraftKings Sportsbook. His MVP odds were +6600!
The Vikings have played poorly against teams in the NFC North, so in order for Minnesota to make a deep playoff run that has to change this season. The public loves the Packers so much so that the line has since moved from Minnesota -3 to -2.5. That's exactly the number that I was looking for.
BEST BET: VIKINGS -2.5
Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano)
JETS at BILLS (-6.5) I TOTAL: 39.5
The Jets look like a total mess right now; from Coronavirus opt-outs (C.J. Mosely) to training camp injuries (Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman), and maybe some controversy in the backfield between Le'Veon Bell and head coach Adam Gase. Couple that with a road matchup against the Bills, who rank fourth in the league in against the spread margin (+2.1) on their home turf since Sean McDermott took over as the head coach. I'll lay the -6.5 in this AFC East contest.
BEST BET: BILLS -6.5
Dr. Roto (@DrRoto)
RAIDERS (-2.5) at PANTHERS I TOTAL: 47.5
"Knock with me" if you think the Raiders are underrated. There's a lot of excitement down in Carolina with a new coaching staff, but it will take them some time to gel, especially with no preseason games. The Panthers run defense is a train wreck and Gruden will give the ball to Josh Jacobs 20-25 times easily. Carr is practicing better than ever and the Vegas receivers are young and talented. If the Raiders are going to make the playoffs this season, they will need to win road games like this.
BEST BET: RAIDERS -2.5
Bill Enright (@BillEnright)
BUCCANEERS at SAINTS (-3.5) I TOTAL: 48
With an average of 17.2 points in the opening half, Tampa Bay was tied with the Chiefs for the highest average points through the first two quarters across the entire NFL. Considering DraftKings Sportsbook has the total for their match-up against the Saints set at 48, Tom Brady and the Bucs will need to do a lot more than put up a measly touchdown and field goal in the first and second quarter if that game total is well within reach.
BEST BET: BUCS 1ST HALF OVER 10.5 PTS
Roy Larking (@SIGambling)
DOLPHINS @ PATRIOTS (-6.5) I TOTAL: 41.5
A new era begins in New England after QB Tom Brady left as a free agent to join Tampa Bay. With Brady out of the picture, Cam Newton takes over as the Patriots starter and I expect he will be fine managing the Patriots offense going forward. Bill Belichick is a master when given extra time to prepare for a game. That is evident by the Patriots 7-3 record against the spread during Week 1 over the past decade. The New England defense will be the difference in this contest as the Patriots win and cover the point spread.
BEST BET: PATRIOTS -6.5
Steve Renner (@Steve_Renner)
BROWNS (+8) at RAVENS I TOTAL: 47.5
Each of the last three seasons there has been a divisional game which featured a spread larger than a touchdown in Week 1. In all three cases (Pittsburgh at Cleveland in 2017; Tampa Bay at New Orleans in 2018, and Washington at Philadelphia in 2019), the underdog has covered the game going 3-0 ATS. The Browns were the darling of everyone's eye coming into 2019, but underachieved out the gate en route to a 6-10 finish. Baltimore exceeded expectations behind their MVP QB Lamar Jackson.
This year, however, the Browns should take that next step forward to being closer to a playoff team and return to the spot of their best game from 2019 when they destroyed the Ravens 40-25 in Week 4. The Ravens should remain a strong AFC contender this year, but the Browns hype from a year ago is going to make noise starting in Week 1. Take the Dawg Pound.
BEST BET: CLEVELAND (+8)
Ian Ritchie (@SIGambling)
BEARS (+2.5) at LIONS I TOTAL: 43
The wrong team is favored here with two teams heading in opposite directions. The Bears win total from our partners at DraftKings Sportsbook is 8 and I believe it should be at least a game and a half higher. The Lions win total according to our partner DraftKings is 7 and I believe it should be a game or two lower.
Put those things together and the better team is the underdog. Bet the Bears and take your ticket to the window.
BEST BET: CHICAGO +3 (has since moved to +2.5)
Scott Atkins (@ScottFantasy)
STEELERS at GIANTS (+5.5) I TOTAL: 47
Everyone has been talking about defenses having the advantage to start the season due to lack of a pre-season. That's a time when an offense usually builds chemistry, so I think Daniel Jones might struggle against a tough Steelers defense. With Ben Roethlisberger returning from injury, he's likely to struggle too, so let the ground game and the defense do their thing and ease your way through a Week 1 win.
BEST BET: UNDER 47 has since moved to 46 at DK Sportsbook
Casey Olson (@Y2CASEY)
PACKERS (+2.5) at VIKINGS I TOTAL: 45
While we wait for the teams to settle in this week, let's take a peek at some past trends. Looking at the last six years, Week 1 divisional underdogs sit 21-5-1 ATS. As a bonus, when the O/U for their opener sits at 47 or less, the dogs go 17-2-1 ATS. Fitting into these trends for Week 1 include the following teams: CHI+3, GB+3, MIA+6.5, NYJ+6.5, WAS+5.5, and JAX+8. I see our guy Ian Ritchie already put the hammer down on CHI+3 which I like, so I’m going to pivot on over to Green Bay +3 or better.
The Packers opened up +3.5 which was a gift, and has moved down as we get closer to game time. It won’t be any walk in the park for Green Bay as MIN ended 6-2 at home last year, but one of those losses were against the Packers in Week 16. Matter of fact, GB swept them last year with an average win margin of nine points. Coach Mike Zimmer has lost a couple key players on both sides of the ball, all while opening the season against a team that came within one win of the Super Bowl last season. Give me the dog.
BEST BET: PACKERS +3 (has since been bet down to +2.5)
Gary Gramling (SI's MMQB) - @GGramling_SI
STEELERS (-5.5) at GIANTS I TOTAL: 46
I'm starting the season by doing two things I don't like to do: (1) Betting on a heavy road favorite early in the year, and (2) Projecting turnovers, which are typically fluky year-to-year (not to mention game-to-game)
And, finally, the Giants, who won't have fans at MetLife Stadium, are 1-10 against the spread as a home underdog over the last three seasons.
BEST BET: STEELERS -5.5
Mitch Goldich (SI's MMQB) - @mitchgoldich
STEELERS (-5.5) at GIANTS I TOTAL: 46
Let's not get cute and overthink this for Week 1: I think the Steelers are a much better team than the Giants. We know how great that defense was last year, particularly after the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade. Everyone is talking about having a healthy Big Ben, but it's not just him. Pittsburgh had injuries at wide receiver and running back last year too; it's like they're getting their whole offense back. Throw in the fact that they face a rookie head coach who didn't have a preseason and I like them to not just win but cover.
BEST BET: STEELERS -5.5
|NAME||WEEK 1 PICK||RECORD|
BUCS 1ST HALF O10.5