Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs -10 Thursday, September 10, 8:20 PM EST
The reigning Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City Chiefs, open the 2020 NFL season against the Houston Texans. In the annual NFL Kickoff Game, the defending Super Bowl Champion has won four of the last six opening night games. The Chiefs roster looks relatively the same heading into the 2020 season. Minor offseason moves were made like drafting Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the NFL draft and letting go of Moris Claiborne and Terrell Suggs. However, the Texans roster looks a bit different after trading arguably the breast receiver in the league, DeAndre Hopkins, to Arizona for running back David Johnson. The Chiefs have the edge at home, but covering 10-points may not be as easy. In three of the four wins, the defending Super Bowl Champion won by a touchdown or less. A lot of this has to do with offseason roster moves and players from the team moving on. Also, opening weekend games tend to be less scoring as offenses need time to get back into a rhythm. Despite the Texans continuously making poor roster moves, it will be hard for the Chiefs to cover 10-points. Also, Arrowhead Stadium might not serve as a home-field advantage if COVID-19 doesn't allow fans to attend games this fall. Look for a first-half under as the NFL gets closer to kickoff.
Seattle Seahawks -1 @ Atlanta Falcons Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
Seattle travels to Atlanta to open their season. The Seahawks don't get the benefit of the doubt as they have the 1:00 PM EST game to start the season. Also, the Falcons are trying to get back to the postseason after finishing 7-9 in the last two years. Seeing the Seahawks at -1 almost makes me want to take Atlanta. The Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the 201os under Pete Carroll, and there's no doubt they'll be another playoff contender this season. Defensively, the Seahawks need to tighten up the rush defense. Last year, they were 26th in defensive rushing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. This could be a factor as the Falcons bring in Todd Gurley this offseason. However, they do bring in defensive end Bruce Irvin to help solidify the defensive line. Also, the Seahawks could be losing out on Jadaveon Clowney this offseason, which will hurt their defense. However, Seattle has that "I.T..T." factor, and as long as they have Russell Wilson, then they'll be in every game. The Falcons struggled defensively last year as well. Their pass defense was 25th, according to Football Outsiders. This could be a big advantage for Seattle, with Wilson having D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Locket to throw too. Right now, I don't see value on either side. Seattle -1 almost feels to go to be true, but I would lean Seahawks in week one.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills -6.5 Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
The Jets overachieved last season going 7-9. This also factors in that Sam Darnold missed three games due to mono. Right now, the Bills sit at -6.5 at home for their season opener. Last season, they had one of the best defenses in the NFL, and going up against an offense that struggled to protect their quarterback. The Jets did bring in offensive lineman George Fant and Connor McGovern this offseason but lost wide receiver, Bobby Anderson. Also, the Jets drafted offensive lineman Mekhi Becton and wide receiver Denzel Mims. However, this might not be enough for Darnold and company to overcome. Last year, the Jets ranked 31st in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. Buffalo was bounced in the Wild Card Round last year to the Houston Texans. Bills Mafia is raving over Josh Allen, and they brought in Steffon Diggs and improved the offensive line. Overall, the Bills have the advantage on both sides of the ball in week one. The Jets seem slightly improved heading into 2020, but still won't be a match for the Bills. Last year, Buffalo finished 21st in offensive efficiency. According to Football Outsiders. If the Jets are going to hang around in week one, then it will have to come from the defensive side of the ball.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions -1.5 Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
Chicago was a disappointment in 2019. The Bears offense ranked 25th in offensive efficiency thanks to poor quarterback play from Mitch Trubisky and an irrelevant rushing attack. This offseason, Chicago went out and got Nick Foles, which is an improvement from Trubisky. However, the Lions do answer with the return of Matthew Stafford, who is better than both Chicago players. Overall, the Lions are still in the bottom half of the NFC talent-wise. Even with Stafford at quarterback, they don't have much around him. Linebacker Jamie Collins was their best free-agent pickup, but also parted with Darius Slay. Last year, Detroit had one of the worst defenses in the NFL and lost one of their star cornerbacks. They did draft Jeff Okudah this draft, but it could be a while until Okudah is on the same level as Darius Slay. For Chicago, their defense stays relatively the same. They did lose Ha Ha Clinton-Dix but signed Robert Quinn to improve an already excellent front seven. Also, they drafted Jaylon Johnson in the second round, who should improve their secondary. Overall, despite a bad 2019, the Bears are still the better team. This could be an ugly week one game, but the Bears should be able to get it done.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings -3.5 Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
Minnesota comes into their season opener as 3.5-point favorites against their division rival Green Bay. Both teams were bounced by San Francisco in the playoffs last season. Looking at the line, I would say Minnesota has a slight edge on the spread over Green Bay. Minnesota lost wide receiver Stefon Diggs, which is a huge loss for the Vikings. However, they drafted LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson in the first round to fill his place. Minnesota finished 10th in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. Even losing Diggs, they should have no problem moving the football throughout the season. Also, Green Bay didn't improve a lot this offseason, either. The Packers continuously fail around superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The offense remained the same from the offseason, and they drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, which Rodgers is probably thrilled. Green Bay has the potential to have huge regression in the 2020 season. They overachieved in 2019 and didn't do anything to get better heading into 2020. Rodgers has even shown some regression himself, and he's the heart and soul of this Packers team. I would look at Minnesota -3.5 for week one.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots -7 Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
The new-look Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins to open up the NFL season. This will be the first season that Tom Brady will not be starting for New England since 2000. Also, the Patriots recently brought in former MVP Cam Newton on a one year deal. Given the situation, there is going to be a lot of hype surrounding Cam Newton and the Patriots. However, I lean Miami at +7. Cam Newton will be heading into training camp trying to learn a new system. Also, due to COVID-19, training camp might not be enough for Newton to understand the offense by week one. The Patriots also struggled to protect Brady in 2019, and couldn't stop the run. Newton can't help in those categories. Also, the Dolphins drastically improved on both sides of the ball heading into 2020. In 2019, the Dolphins finished 5-11 but had wins over the Colts, Eagles, and Patriots. The Dolphins brought in big names on defense this offseason like Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson, and Kyle Van Noy. Also, they drafted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the NFL Draft. There's no telling whether Tagovailoa will start over Ryan Fitzpatrick, but both Q.B.s.B.s are capable of playing a great game against New England. Also, head coach Bryan Flores will be ready to go to face off against Belichick, who he was defensive coordinator under in New England. Belichick has historically struggled when he has to face a former coach in his coaching tree. I'll take Miami +7.
Philadelphia Eagles -6 @ Washington Redskins Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
Philadelphia was depleted with injuries last season, but they'll open the season up the same way they did in 2019, by traveling to Washington. In their week one matchup, Washington got off to a 20-7 first-half lead before the Eagles came back to win 33-27. Washington had Case Keenum starting week one, and this year Dwayne Haskins will most likely get the nod. The Eagles at -6 are too close for me to pick a side in this one. Philadelphia won't have all the injuries they had to suffer through last season, and they also brought in guys that improve the roster. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave is the biggest signing for the Eagles this offseason. Washington, on the other hand, will move forward with 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins. Haskins had an up and down rookie year but will look to progress in year two. The team from D.C. brought in veteran Thomas Davis Sr. and Kendall Fuller to help boost their defense. In 2019, Washington ranked 24th in defensive efficiency. They should see some improvement heading into 2020. Also, they drafted Ohio State defensive end, Chase Young, with their first-round pick. Young should have an immediate impact on the field with his size and athleticism. The offense needs to pick up the pace if Washington wants to see progress in 2020. Washington ranked 30th in offensive efficiency in 2019. Haskins should have some improvement, but another weapon might help him. Terry McLaurin broke out last season but is the only threat they have. Washington did draft Thaddeus Moss, who could have an impact at tight end in year two.
Las Vegas Raiders -1 @ Carolina Panthers Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
Both these teams are evenly matched heading into their week one game. Las Vegas made big roster changes heading into the season. They brought in Corey Littleton, Carl Nassib, and Prince Amukamara on the defensive side. Also, they drafted Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs. Carolina addressed their biggest offseason need by signing Teddy Bridgewater to a deal. Bridgewater will be the week one starter heading into 2020. Also, Bridgewater is 28-7 ATS as a starter. Las Vegas at -1 is an interesting spot considering a west coast team playing a 1:00 PM EST game. Carolina has a new head coach this year as well, which throws a ripple into the spread. Matt Rhule comes in from Baylor and will coach in his first NFL game. Also, the Panthers' defense should be improved after a dismal 2019. They used their first-round pick on Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, which should help in the run game. I don't feel confident on either side, but I would lean Carolina +1.
Indianapolis Colts -7 @ Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
This line feels spot-on as Indianapolis heads to Jacksonville for week one. The Colts bring in long time Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to improve the quarterback position. Also, they brought in DeForest Buckner and Xavier Rhodes on the defensive side of the ball. This team looks poised to make another run, but starting week one in Jacksonville might be tricky. Jacksonville finished the season going 2-6 and quit the second half of 2019. The public will look at the Colts as the pick here, but 2020 is a new year. They'll have Gardner Minshew at quarterback, and have improved the defense through the NFL Draft. The Jaguars used their two first-round picks on C.J. Henderson and K'lavon Chaisson, which should help after a poor defensive year in 2019. Also, Jacksonville should have the edge with home-field as the Colts have to deal with Florida heat in September. I like Jacksonville +7 or better.
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens -9 Sunday, September 11, 1:00 PM EST
The Browns had such a disappointing year in 2020, and finished 6-10 and fired head coach Freddie Kitchens. They slightly improve the roster with signing like Jack Conklin and Adrian Clayborn, but this roster remains the same. Baker Mayfield needs to bounce back this season, and they will be under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. Baltimore had a dream season going 14-2 but was bounced by the Titans in the playoffs. The Ravens have a difficult time repeating their 2019 success, but should still be an 11-12 win team in 2020. The -9 spread is high, but the Ravens start the season at home and are a much superior team over the Browns. Also, they bring in Calais Campbell and draft linebacker Patrick Queen in the first-round. Lamar Jackson is coming off an MVP season and will want to replicate his success in 2020. I lean Baltimore -9.
Los Angeles Chargers -3.5 @ Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, September 11, 4:05 PM EST
The Chargers come into the 2020 season underperforming in 2019. They also brought in names to improve the roster like Chris Harris Jr. and Bryan Bulaga. However, they lose longtime quarterback Philip Rivers, which could affect their 2020 season. There should be better performances from the Chargers, but they still have a lot of question marks surrounding the quarterback position. Cincinnati brings an LSU legend Joe Burrow and could change the direction of the franchise from day one. Also, the Bengals improved the defensive side of the ball by signing D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, and Von Bell this offseason. The Chargers -3.5 is tough given they are on the road week one, and both teams could be starting rookie Q.B.s.B.s. Right now, I lean L.A., but the line feels spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints -4 Sunday, September 11, 4:25 PM EST
Arguably the matchup everyone wants to see week one of the 2020 NFL Season. Tom Brady heads to New Orleans for his first game as a Buccaneer. Tampa Bay improved their roster this offseason by also bringing in Rob Gronkowski and drafting Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs. Also, they re-signed Ndomakung Suh on a one-year deal. Tampa Bay could be gifted with no fans in the Superdome with COVID-19, which will give them an edge in this game. New Orleans is coming off another disappointing end of the season. The Vikings have bounced them in two of the last three playoff appearances. However, 2020 is a new season, and the NFC South is still there's to lose. Their roster went under reconstruction, but a lot of the moves were bringing in savvy veterans that can get the job done. They are currently 4-point favorites against Tampa Bay, which feels spot. However, a lack of home-field advantage might affect New Orleans this season. We'll see what happens in week one. I lean New Orleans -4.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers -8.5 Sunday, September 11, 4:25 PM EST
San Francisco brings back a lot of the 2019 Super Bowl roster this season. They also add to the defensive line by adding South Caroline defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw into the mix. The 49ers struggled against the Cardinals last season. Yes, they won both games but allowed 25 and 26 points in the two meetings. Kyler Murray will most likely give San Francisco's defense fits again this season. Arizona might have had the best offseason move in the NFL. They brought in superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from Houston for running back David Johnson. Kyler Murray gets another weapon to throw, too, as Hopkins is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. Right now, I like Arizona at +8.5, but I would also like to see the number inflate a bit higher. There's no telling how the public will respond to the Super Bowl loss and the offseason Arizona had.
Dallas Cowboys -2.5 @ Los Angeles Rams Sunday, September 11, 8:20 PM EST
America's team heading to L.A. for a week one Sunday night matchup? What could go wrong? The Cowboys parted ways with Jason Garrett this offseason but brought in Mike McCarthy, so it practically cancels each other out. Also, Dallas did have a strong draft and brought in CeeDee Lamb with their first-round pick. However, the line still feels too high as the Cowboys are 2.5-point favorites. The Rams underachieved in 2019 after losing the Super Bowl the year before. Now, L.A. starts with a clean slate heading into 2020. The Rams roster stays relatively the same but should see positive regression this year. I like Los Angles in this spot, as the Cowboys come to town. This line could hit +3, so I would wait, but L.A. should cover with an over-hyped Cowboys team.
Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 @ New York Giants Monday, September 12, 7:15 PM EST
The Steelers should have a big 2020 getting Ben Roethlisberger back. The biggest issue of the Steelers in 2019 was their offense, which ranked last in efficiency. Their defense, however, was top three in DVOA. Combine a top-three defense with a two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback; then good things are going to happen. Also, their defense stays relatively the same, heading into 2020 with Chris Wormley replacing Javon Hargrave as a notable change. The Giants defense should see much improvement this year. In 2019, they finished 23rd in defensive DVOA. They brought in James Bradberry and Blake Martinez to improve the defensive side. The biggest question will be whether or not Daniel Jones will take the next step as a quarterback. Right now, Steelers at -3.5 has a lot of value heading into week one. Their team is much better when Big Ben is under center.
Tennessee Titans @ Denver Broncos -2 Monday, September 12, 10:10 PM EST
The Broncos and Titans are the final game of the week one slate. Tennessee
is coming off an AFC Championship appearance while Denver is looking to improve in Vic Fangio's second season as head coach. Tennessee retains a lot from last season, and also add Vic Beasley to the defensive side. Their offense runs through Derrick Henry, and everyone knows it. Denver was a middle of the road defense in 2020, so it will be interesting how they improve heading into week one. The Denver offense looks about as good as it can heading into this season. They have Royce Freeman, Melvin Gordon, and Phillip Lindsey in the backfield. Also, they drafted Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler with their first two picks to add with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. Now, it's time to see if Drew Lock is the guy. I like the Broncos -2 in week one. Denver is won 14 straight home September games before losing both in 2019. I think they'll get back to their winning ways in September, starting with the Titans.