Week 1 Opening Sunday of the NFL 2020 season is in the books, and as usual, half the bettors are licking their wounds and hoping for a turnaround on Monday night. Some of the results came as predicted; others were not only surprising but also could have a significant impact on the playoff picture 16 weeks down the road. As usual in the NFL, half of the games were outright upsets, so there were plenty of nice money line payouts.
2020 looks like 2019
The Baltimore Ravens picked up the regular season in the same way they ran through their schedule last year. For what seems like all of recorded history, the Cleveland Browns were no match for the Ravens and are probably on their way to another dismal season. Led by three touchdowns from Lamar Jackson, Baltimore handily covered the 7.5-point spread, but due to the inept Cleveland offense, the game wasn’t enough to please anyone who put their money on the final score going over 47.5.
After going 1-6 in single-possession games in 2019, the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to buck that trend in the 2020 opener. Instead, an offense led by Dak Prescott that was poised to change their recent fortunes sputtered in critical situations. The Cowboys went home from Los Angeles after a 20-17 loss to the Rams, who were two-and-a-half point underdogs. The over/under for this game was 51.5, the second-highest of Week 1, but only one other game played so far has produced fewer points.
Despite predictions to the contrary, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers followed up their 2019 appearance in the NFC Championship game by drilling the Minnesota Vikings 43-34. The Packers entered the game as two and a half point underdogs, but based on their performance on Sunday, they might not be in that position many more times in 2020. The 79 total points were the most to light up a scoreboard on Sunday and easily bested the betting line of 45.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
The Philadelphia Eagles entered the Week 1 as the favorites to repeat as NFC East champions, something which hasn’t occurred in 15 years. After racing out to 17-0 lead over the Washington Football Team, it appeared those predictions were well-founded. However, Washington’s defense stiffened in the second half. Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz struggled to stay in rhythm, and the five-and-a-half point underdog team without a name scored 27 unanswered points to pull a stunning 27-17 upset, making bettors of the over very happy and infuriating those who bet on Philadelphia.
There was a great deal of hype over the arrival in Indianapolis of former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The Colts entered the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars as seven-and-a-half point road favorites, the largest spread for a visiting team in Week 1. The 16,000 fans in attendance helped propel the Jaguars to a 27-20 victory in the AFC South matchup, and a payout of +320 (also the largest of the week) on the money line. Those betting the over were extremely pleased when the Jaguars were able to intercept Rivers, then stretch the lead with a 46-yard field goal to push the final total over 45 points.
The San Francisco 49ers hosted division rival Arizona Cardinals in what they hoped would be their first win to kick off another Super Bowl run. Experts listed the home 49ers as seven-point favorites in Week 1, but the Cardinals didn’t buy into those numbers. Versatile quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 230 yards with a touchdown and added 91 yards on the ground, including a 22-yard touchdown run in a thrilling 24-20 win and a +260 money line payout. Of Murray’s 26 completions, 14 ended up in the hands of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who beat the vaunted 49ers defense for 151 yards.