NFL best bets for Week 1


If I had something clever to say, this is where I’d say it. But you don’t care about cleverness, do you?

Nah. That’s not why you’re here.

You care about only one thing: Winning.

And money.


I guess that’s three things you care about.

Good for you.

I care about only one thing: Getting through the introduction to this article as quickly as possible.

Objective accomplished.

In July, I wrote a piece highlighting all my Week 1 spread and total bets, and I updated the piece in August.

Of the bets from that piece that still have value, here are my four favorites as well as six player props I like.



For all my Week 1 bets — sides, totals, and player props — check out our FTN Bet Tracker. Use the promo code FREEDMAN to get 10% off your FTN subscription.

Game odds via our Week 1 betting odds page. Prop odds via our FTN Prop Shop and Jeff Ratcliffe’s Player Props Model.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills Week 1 odds

Quarterback Josh Allen was fantastic last year, but the Bills enter 2021 with a world of hype around them, and this number feels inflated. And, historically, bettors have not had success going against the Steelers, who are a fantastic 40-21-3 against the spread as underdogs under head coach Mike Tomlin.

If you even wanted to back the Steelers on the moneyline (+250 at DraftKings), I wouldn’t blame you.

Pick: Steelers +6.5 (-110) at DraftKings

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans Week 1 odds

  • Bet: Over 51.5
  • Odds: -110, BetMGM

This line is 52 or 52.5 at every other major book, so there’s some line-shopping value in the 51.5 at BetMGM.

The thesis for this play is pretty simple: The Cardinals play fast, and the Titans put up points. 

The Cardinals play at a blistering pace, and last year they had a league-high no-huddle rate of 38.4% (per our No-Huddle Offense Stats Tool). Against a Titans defense that had bottom-four marks with 19 sacks and 66 quarterback hits in 2020, the Cardinals should be able to move the ball.

And all the Titans do at home is score. With quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the over is 11-3-1 at Nissan Stadium. With wide receiver Julio Jones, the Titans offense should be even more dynamic this year.

Pick: Over 51.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns Week 1 odds

  • Bet: Chiefs -6
  • Odds: -110, Caesars

I first bet this at -5.5, but I am comfortable taking it at -6.

The Browns have an impressive defense led by edge rusher Myles Garrett and shutdown cornerback Denzel Ward — and the offseason additions of edges Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley and cornerbacks Troy Hill and Greg Newsome should make the unit even tougher — but you couldn’t pay me to bet against the Chiefs in this spot.

The Chiefs have rebuilt their offensive line and now have one of the best on-paper units in the league.

On top of that, head coach Andy Reid is 6-2 ATS in Week 1 since joining the Chiefs eight years ago, and that’s not a fluke: He regularly starts the season hot. In Weeks 1-4, Reid is 22-10 ATS with the Chiefs.

And quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 31-21-2 ATS for his career and 10-2 ATS in Weeks 1-4.

Coming off last season’s Super Bowl loss, the Chiefs I expect to start the season focused and ready to dominate.

Pick: Chiefs -6 (-110) at Caesars

Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders Week 1 odds

This line is -4.5 at every other major sportsbook, so I’m happy to get the -4 at DraftKings.

But, honestly, even on the road, the Ravens still feel like a value at -4.5: I think they should be favored by close to a touchdown against the Raiders, who last year allowed a league-high 50.3% of drives to end with an offensive score.

In his 13 years with the Ravens, head coach John Harbaugh is 10-3 ATS in Week 1, and that’s probably not luck given that he is also 9-4 ATS off the regular-season bye. If Harbaugh has sufficient time to prepare, his team performs.

Pick: Ravens -4 (-110) at DraftKings

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Freedman’s favorite player props

Player prop lines move quickly, so these are my six favorites only as of writing. As Sunday approaches, I will surely find new favorites, which I will add to my prop card in the Bet Tracker.

Leonard Fournette over 7.5 carries (-120, DraftKings Sportsbook): In the playoffs, Fournette averaged 16 carries per game and never had fewer than 12 in a game — but, yeah, 7.5 carries makes sense. (Read: Sarcasm.) I’d set this closer to 10.5 if I were trying to be conservative.

Ben Roethlisberger under 291.5 passing yards (-110, BetMGM): This line is in the 260s at every other sportsbook. Don’t hate me because I’m a good line shopper.

Tyrod Taylor over 16.5 rushing yards (-110, Caesars): We have Taylor slated for 20 yards rushing in our FTN player projections. In his 48 career starts, Taylor has rushed for more than 16.5 yards in 35 games (including playoffs).

A.J. Dillon over 27.5 rushing yards (-110, Caesars): Dillon is essentially the new Jamaal Williams in the Packers offense, and Williams averaged 8.3 carries per game with the Packers over the past four years. The Packers are favored and could lean on the running game: If Dillon gets eight-plus carries against the Saints, his wonderfully muscular legs should carry him to the over.

Sony Michel under 9.5 carries (+100, Caesars): The Rams are significant home favorites, so maybe Michel will see extra carries to close out the game, but 9.5 rushing attempts is a lot for a backup back, especially one who joined the team just a couple weeks ago. I’d set this line around 6.5.

Sony Michel under 40.5 rushing yards (-120, Caesars): If Michel doesn’t get the carries, he’s not likely to get the yards — and I don’t think he’ll get the carries. I’d set this 15-20 yards lower.

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