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  • Find out our betting picks for all the afternoon NFL games in Week 1, including Cowboys-Panthers, Texans-Patriots and more in our Sunday roundup.
By Scott Gramling
September 07, 2018

Here's what you need to know before betting on each of the afternoon games in Week 1 of the NFL season:

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-4) at CLEVELAND BROWNS

1:00 p.m. ET

One of the keys to this game will be the ability of Cleveland’s offensive line to protect quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the pass rush of a Pittsburgh defense that led the NFL with 56 sacks last season. Only the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett was sacked more often in 2017 than the 48 times Taylor was dropped as Buffalo’s QB. With 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas retired, the Browns have named undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison as Cleveland’s Week 1 starting left tackle.

Betting Trend: Cleveland is 2-10 against the spread as a home underdog of 7 points or fewer since the start of 2016.

Pick: Browns +4

Confidence Level: Low (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+6) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS

NFL
Niners vs. Vikings Betting Preview: Can 49ers Spoil Start of the Kirk Cousins Era?

1:00 p.m. ET

The Vikings allowed the fewest points per game among NFL teams last season (15.8). The defense was especially stingy at home, likely due in part to one of the most raucous crowds in the league, allowing just 12.5 points per game at U.S. Bank Stadium. While there’s a lot of optimism surrounding the 49ers after they finished with five straight victories once Jimmy Garoppolo became the team’s starting quarterback last December, never was San Francisco getting more than four points in any of the five games.

Betting Trend: Minnesota is 18-7-1 against the spread as a home favorite since the start of the 2014 season.

Pick: Vikings -6

Confidence Level: Moderate


CINCINNATI BENGALS (+3) at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

1:00 p.m. ET

No team allowed more sacks than Indianapolis did last season, which could turn out to be a problem against a defense that has linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to generate consistent pressure from the interior and along the edge, respectively. The Colts’ defense, meanwhile, ranked 30th in both yards and points allowed last season, and the team made no significant personnel additions during this past offseason. Expect Cincinnati to take advantage with an offensive line that should be improved over last year.

Betting Trend: The Bengals are 17-7-3 against the spread in September road games under head coach Marvin Lewis.

Pick: Bengals +3

Confidence Level: Moderate


BUFFALO BILLS (+7.5) at BALTIMORE RAVENS

1:00 p.m. ET

This year’s Bills roster looks a lot weaker than the one that snuck into the playoffs last season. Nathan Peterman is your Week 1 starter at QB, which is really all you need to know about the state of the quarterback position in Buffalo. The Ravens—who the Bills narrowly edged for a wild-card spot in 2017—have improved in the offseason, adding more receiving weapons for Joe Flacco. John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead can take advantage of a Buffalo D that will be on the field for extended stretches of time.

Betting Trend: Baltimore is 8-1 against the spread at home over the first two weeks of the season under coach John Harbaugh.

Pick: Ravens -7.5

Confidence Level: Very High


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (-3) at NEW YORK GIANTS

1:00 p.m. ET

Expect the Giants to be much more diverse in the passing game now that star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be complemented by a pair of movable chess pieces in tight end Evan Engram and rookie running back Saquon Barkley. New head coach Pat Shurmur had one of the NFL’s most effective passing games in Minnesota, and it will be a much different approach than the iso-routes-everywhere system that Ben McAdoo ran (which became untenable once Beckham, their only receiver who could win in isolation, was injured).

Betting Trend: Jacksonville is 1-9 both straight-up and against the spread on the road vs. NFC teams since the start of 2013.

Pick: Giants +3

Confidence Level: Low


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (+9.5) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

1:00 p.m. ET

The Saints’ performance on the defensive side of the ball improved drastically last season, with the team finishing 17th in yards allowed and 10th in points allowed—New Orleans allowed 21 points in a game only three times in 11 games after mid-October. If New Orleans can be just as good defensively in Dennis Allen’s third full season as the team’s coordinator, there’s little reason to believe that a Tampa Bay offense with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center is going to put up enough points to cover this spread.

Betting Trend: The home team is 10-4 against the spread in Tampa Bay–New Orleans games since the start of the 2011.

Pick: Saints -9.5

Confidence Level: Low


HOUSTON TEXANS (+6.5) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

NFL
Chiefs at Chargers Betting Preview: Chargers Hype Has Gone Too Far

1:00 p.m. ET

The return of linebacker Dont’a Hightower from injury and the addition of defensive tackle Danny Shelton should improve what was a shaky run defense at times for the Patriots last season. The secondary righted itself after an awful start in ’17—one that included being stomped on in Deshaun Watson’s Week 3 coming-out party—and is unlikely to have another bad start to the season in 2018. Expect the difference to ultimately be New England’s ability to avoid turnovers while creating some of their own.

Betting Trend: New England is 7-3 against the spread in games played against Houston since the start of the 2003 season.

Pick: New England -6.5

Confidence Level: High


TENNESSEE TITANS (-1.5) at MIAMI DOLPHINS

1:00 p.m. ET

While the talent in Miami is down from 2017, the Dolphins do get two potential cornerstone players back after quarterback Ryan Tannehill and middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan both missed last year with torn ACLs. Before the injury, there were rumblings that Tannehill was ready for a big leap forward in ’17. McMillan, a second-round pick in 2017, is a true defensive quarterback. Meanwhile, new Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur is tasked with getting quarterback Marcus Mariota on track after a poor ’17.

Betting Trend: Tennessee is 1-7 against the spread vs. AFC East opponents since the start of the 2014 season.

Pick: Dolphins +1.5

Confidence Level: Low


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3.5) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

4:05 p.m. ET

For those who want to argue that the experience at the quarterback position gives Los Angeles an edge with veteran Philip Rivers making his 193rd career start while Kansas City’s Pat Mahomes makes his second, a counterpoint can be made that the Chiefs offense will be more explosive than any that Andy Reid has overseen in his previous six years as Kansas City’s head coach. Los Angeles went 0-5 in 2017 against opponents that finished with 10 or more wins, with two of those five losses coming at the hands of the Chiefs.

Betting Trend: Kansas City is 16-1 straight up and 13-4 against the spread over its past 17 games vs. AFC West opponents.

Pick: Chiefs +3.5

Confidence Level: Extremely High


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (+3) at DENVER BRONCOS

4:25 p.m. ET

While new Denver quarterback Case Keenum isn’t likely to appear on many people’s lists of elite NFL quarterbacks, he does represent a significant upgrade over what the Broncos have had under center the past couple of seasons. Keenum will be facing a Seahawks secondary bearing very little resemblance to the one that dominated Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII, as the lone remaining member of the once-heralded “Legion of Boom,” is safety Earl Thomas, who held out until the middle of this week for a new contract he didn’t get.

Betting Trend: Seattle is 2-11 against the spread in September road games since the start of the 2010 season.

Pick: Denver -3

Confidence Level: Extremely High


DALLAS COWBOYS (+2.5) at CAROLINA PANTHERS

NFL
Cowboys vs. Panthers Betting Preview: Which Stellar Rushing Attack Has the Edge?

4:25 p.m. ET

Both Dallas and Carolina finished among the top four in the NFL in rushing offense last season, and each team also finished among the bottom seven in passing offense. Based on what took place over the offseason, those imbalances could widen further. Dallas shed its top receivers, losing wideout Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, and figures to lean even more heavily than usual on the run game. Carolina upgraded at running back by bringing in 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Anderson to replace Jonathan Stewart.

Betting Trend: Dallas is 2-8 straight up and 1-9 against the spread over its past 10 games vs. NFC South opponents.

Pick: Panthers -2.5

Confidence Level: Very High


WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+1) at ARIZONA CARDINALS

4:25 p.m. ET

Star running back David Johnson returns after having suffered a season-ending injury in Arizona’s first game of 2017. He’s more valuable than any running back in football in the passing game, both because of his talent and because the Cardinals haven’t found an established No. 2 receiver across from Larry Fitzgerald. While Washington showed some improvement on defense in coordinator Greg Manusky’s first season, the team parted with promising CBs Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland in the offseason.

Betting Trend: Arizona is 14-4-1 against the spread vs. NFC East teams since the start of the 2009 calendar year.

Pick: Cardinals -1

Confidence Level: High

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)