Nov 4, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) shake hands after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 NFL Picks

It’s here. It’s finally freakin’ here.

After a long offseason, NFL football is back. And we’ll be here to guide you with weekly picks against the spread every week. Here are our first 16 dart throws for an extended 2021 season.

Check the live odds page for line moves closer to kickoff and watch for Trend Dummy’s deep dive into the database to find useful (or maybe just interesting) wagering angles. Odds courtesy of FanDuel as of midweek.

Week 1 NFL Picks

2020 RECORD: 127-115-10

DALLAS COWBOYS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-9): BUCS

Home teams coming off Super Bowl seasons generally dominate these Thursday openers, and this should be no exception with the jacked Bucs returning all of their key players from 2020. That’s a big number, but a lack of offensive continuity and a lack of defensive talent will make it tough for Dallas to keep it within the single digits.

NEW YORK JETS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS (-4): JETS

I’m not convinced the Panthers are a much better team than the Jets, who have the young quarterback with the higher ceiling and an underrated offense. I wouldn’t bet big bucks in this unpredictable matchup, but I’m not giving up more than a field goal with Carolina and Sam Darnold.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BUFFALO BILLS (-6.5): BILLS

The Steelers were horrendous late last year before experiencing a terrible offseason. They’ll be adjusting to a lot of changes, especially along the offensive line, while the Bills will have near-complete continuity for their first game in nearly two years in front of a full house. That should lead to at least a touchdown victory for Buffalo.

[ Bet this game and check out hundreds of fun and profitable props at Draft Kings ]

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-7.5) AT DETROIT LIONS: 49ERS

Kyle Shanahan is going to have a field day with one of the worst defenses in football and it’s hard to see the Detroit offense doing much as it gets acclimated against a stout and finally healthy San Francisco D. The Lions are going to be a mess early this season, so I’m expecting a blowout here.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (-3) AT HOUSTON TEXANS: TEXANS

No way in hell I’m laying a full field goal with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach on the road in Week 1, especially when we’re talking about a team that won just a single game last year. The Texans a horrible, but they’re not that much worse than the rebuilding Jags.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-2.5) AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: COLTS

At the very least, the Colts are in Seattle’s range in terms of talent. They’re deeper, and they’re healthy just in time for Week 1. At home against a Seahawks team traveling three time zones, they should be a small favorite, not a small underdog.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT TENNESSEE TITANS (-3): CARDINALS

Most will disagree, but the Cardinals are simply the better all-around team. They underperformed last year but now Kyler Murray and Kliff Kinsgbury should be ready to take off following their first full, unimpeded offseason together. Still, the most likely result is a three-point Tennessee win so I wouldn’t go nuts here.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS AT WASHINGTON (-1): WASHINGTON

Meanwhile, the hyped Chargers feel a lot like last year’s Cardinals. That new-look offense might need some time, especially with big changes along the offensive line. And they still look vulnerable on defense. Running into the defensively-stacked WFT on the road, it’s surprising this is essentially a pick’em. Especially because Washington even found an offensive groove this summer with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-3) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS: BENGALS

This line is comical. With Joe Burrow at quarterback against non-playoff teams in 2020, the Bengals went 1-1-1 and scored more points than they allowed. They’re a lot better on paper now, Burrow is healthy again, and the Vikings don’t look like they’ve improved in a significant way. Why would I give Cincy three points in its home opener here? It’s not as though Minnesota has the pass-rushing firepower to take advantage of a still-suspect Bengals offensive line.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT ATLANTA FALCONS (-3.5): EAGLES

I don’t believe in betting Falcons games because they somehow constantly screw all bettors. That said, if I have to pull the trigger, I’m now dropping a field goal and a hook with a team stuck in neutral. Let’s not forget that the Eagles still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Far more than Atlanta sans Julio Jones.

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-3): PATRIOTS

These Patriots are way better than the team that beat the Dolphins by a double-digit margin in Foxborough to kick off the 2020 season. Miami has improved as well, but not at the same rate. Bill Belichick looks determined to right this ship. He’s not losing at home right out of the gates. No fear laying the field goal.

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CLEVELAND BROWNS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-5.5): BROWNS

This pains me because I have the Chiefs winning it all again in 2021, but they’re still giving up too many points against a team that is nearly as talented and put up a fight at Arrowhead in January. Keep in mind Kansas City will be trying to adjust to an offensive line that underwent significant changes in the offseason. [ Bet Mahomes vs Mayfield props and more ]

GREEN BAY PACKERS (-3.5) AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: PACKERS

An angry Aaron Rodgers opened the 2020 season by dominating Green Bay’s first four opponents, one of which was the Saints. Now, Rodgers seems angry again and the Saints are no longer the team they were a year ago. Without the benefit of the Superdome crowd, I have no idea how the Saints are getting a full touchdown here.

DENVER BRONCOS (-3) AT NEW YORK GIANTS: GIANTS

The Broncos might be the better all-around team here, but the Giants have the quarterback with more potential and Daniel Jones is now surrounded by plenty of talent. I’m just not willing to lay a full field goal with a traveling Denver squad and Teddy freakin’ Bridgewater, but I wouldn’t spend much on this one.

CHICAGO BEARS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (-7.5): RAMS

The Bears appear to realize they’re in trouble as they adjust to major offseason changes in a prime-time road game against a team that features a terrifying defense. Aaron Donald should have a fun night as the Rams win by double-digits.

BALTIMORE RAVENS (-4) AT LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: RAIDERS

The Ravens lost their best two pass-rushers in the offseason, two of their top offensive backs in the preseason, and quarterback Lamar Jackson spent much of his summer without a full complement of receivers. In their first Las Vegas game with a full crowd, the Raiders have a good chance at pulling off an upset.

Archived article from Sept. 9, 2020 by Brenden Deeg

There are three games slated for the 4 p.m. ET time slot and we have best bets on all of them, choosing the Chargers in a battle of teams struggling with terrible ATS streaks and picking the 49ers to cover a big number at home. We also like the Bucs to continue a horrible Week 1 ATS trend for the Saints. Get your remote ready and your wagering account ready.

CHARGERS @ BENGALS – TAKE CHARGERS -3.5 (FanDuel)

Chargers @ Bengals

Rookie QB Joe Burrow’s debut could not come against a tougher defense, but Bengals backers hope it doesn’t change the money-making 6-1 ATS run Cincy enjoys against the Chargers. LA’s defense will be one to reckon with this year, and should be a Top 5-rated unit in the NFL. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa should cause havoc on the young Bengals offense.

Having said all that, I do like what the Bengals have done this year. The Heisman-winning rookie QB has an arsenal of weapons in Joe Mixon, A.J Green and Tee Higgins. However the offensive line could be a problem this season despite the additions.. Jonah Jackson, their second-round pick in 2019, will slide in at RT, which has to be encouraging for the Bengals organization.

I have a hard time seeing Burrow flying out the gate with a win against the Chargers Week 1. According to SugarHouse, the line is set at Chargers -3.5. That line intrigues me, and I think they are leaving points on the table. The Bengals are 2-18 SU their past 20 as home dogs and 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games at home. New regime I know, but look for L.A to win and cover 3.5 easily. (See Trend Dummy’s list of 100+ Week 1 Betting Trends article.)

Prediction: Chargers -3.5

CARDINALS @ 49ERS – TAKE 49ERS -7.5 (FanDuel)

2019’s breakout team (San Francisco 49ers) will go toe to toe against a team many predict will be 2020’s breakout team (Arizona Cardinals). And the odds breakdown of this breakout game is intriguing with the Cardinals facing the biggest dog spread in Week 1 since 2004 and the 49ers trying to buck a historical (or hysterical) trend that sees Super Bowl losers also lose Week 1 of the following season.

San Francisco is looking to avoid the “Super Bowl Hangover” that many feel is inevitable. Nine out of the last 10 Super Bowl losers have won nine or more games the next season, so we think they will be just fine. Arizona gave up the 9th most rushing yards last season, so look for Kyle Shanahan to attack them at the line of scrimmage.

Arizona is my darkhorse pick in the NFC this season. Kyler Murray heads into his second season after a solid rookie campaign. Second-year HC Kliff Kingsbury will have more to work with this season, after acquiring star WR Deandre Hopkins, who just signed a lucrative contract extension.

I am high on the Cardinals this season, however not in this game. This is a very tough matchup for the Cardinals, especially for Murray. Arizona faces a defense that allowed just 19 PPG last season and I doubt there will be much of a drop off. Even though Arizona is 4-0-1 in their last five games ATS against San Francisco, I think the 49ers cover late.

Prediction: 49ers -7

BUCS @ SAINTS – TAKE BUCS +5 (FanDuel)

If you could bet an over-under on the combined ages of the starting QBs, how often would the number be 83? That’s my fun stat of the week, but the real fun should come for those backing Tampa Bay at +5.

The Saints enter the 2020 season looking to get Drew Brees back to the Super Bowl. It is safe to say this is probably his last season in New Orleans, and the team acted like it this offseason. They acquired vets such as Malcom Jenkins, Emmanuel Sanders and drafted C Cesar Ruiz in the first round – all indicating they are going for it all this season.

Tampa Bay is also going all in this season. Tom Brady has the best set of weapons he has ever had heading into his 21st season.. Last season, the Buccaneers had the best passing offense in the NFL led by Jameis Winston. Imagine what Tom Brady can do with this offense? It is going to be an exciting season in Tampa Bay.

I expect this game to be a shootout and a close game in the end. The Saints were terrific ATS last season, going 11-4 in their last 15 games. I believe they can continue that trend and win this game outright, but five points is too much. This game has the making of a game winning field goal written all over it.

Prediction: Buccaneers +5

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. He was a lead contributor to an earlier incarnation of NationalFootballPost.com and was happy to return when new management revived the brand in 2020. Based in Toronto, he's covered the NFL since 2008 and has been a national NFL writer at Bleacher Report since 2012. He despises all 32 NFL teams equally but remains a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors. He can be reached at Brad@NationalFootballPost.com