In the first game of the NFL season on Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs easily covered the nine-point spread in a 34-20 win over the Houston Texans. Interestingly, the final score exactly hit the game time over/under of 54, the highest of Week 1, according to William Hill. Depending on when and where a bet was placed, the over/under could have been as low as 53 or as high as 54.5.
The rest of Week 1 provides 15 more NFL games with a full slate of fascinating matchups to wager on. Most games will be played without fans in attendance, and no team will allow anything close to a stadium at full capacity. With no preseason games (which provide limited information even in a non-pandemic year), it could put teams with new coaching staffs at a disadvantage.
Point Spread Highlights
The highest point spread in the Sunday and Monday games is set at seven-and-a-half in two contests. The first has the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North battle. Last season, the Ravens outscored their opponents by an average of 16 points a game on their way to a 14-2 record in the regular season. The Browns are one of those teams with a new coaching staff, led by Kevin Stefanski. The Sunday game might be an opportunity to bet on the Ravens to win by a sizeable margin.
In the other game, the Indianapolis Colts enter as favorites over the host Jacksonville Jaguars in a matchup of AFC South squads. The Jags are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season under head coach Doug Marrone, who enters his fourth season on the hot seat for a team that averaged less than 19 points per game in 2019.
After 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, Philip Rivers will make his debut for the Colts following their 7-9 season. In the moneyline bet, the Jags have the highest odds of the week for a win, paying 320 for an outright win if you’re willing to take a flyer on the team that has the lowest over/under 2020 win total in the league.
There are four Week 1 games with spreads of two-and-a-half points (the smallest line of the weekend). The most compelling matchup features the Los Angeles Rams hosting the favored Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football in the brand new $5 billion SoFi Stadium. Neither of these teams made the playoffs in 2019 but have expectations of making the postseason in 2020. The Cowboys lost six of seven of their one-possession games last season, so they’ll need to turn that statistic around in what should be a close game on Sunday.
Another 2.5 point spread game is a crucial NFC North meeting with the Green Bay Packers traveling across the state line to Minnesota to face the favored Vikings. The Packers and Vikings finished first and second respectively in the division last season, with Green Bay’s 13 wins besting Minnesota by three games. Oddsmakers have the division race a lot closer in 2020, so this is a critical game for both teams.
The contest between the Rams and Cowboys has the highest remaining over/under of the week, which is set at 51.5. Quarterback Dak Prescott is in a contract year, while running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are under contract for the foreseeable future. It’s not surprising for a Dallas team that was fourth in the conference in scoring in 2019 to be expected to put up big offensive numbers. Behind quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams are looking to return to their 2018 form that resulted in a Super Bowl appearance and placed second in the league in points per game.
The lowest-scoring game is likely to be the AFC East matchup between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. The teams combined for a total of just over 43 points per game last year. The host Bills gave up an average of 16 points a season ago, so the over/under of 39 points for Sunday’s game is not surprising. As low as that point total looks, it still might be a bit generous. The punters and field goal kickers are likely to see a lot of action in Buffalo on Sunday.