NFL Week 1 Betting Picks


We are getting closer to Week 1 of the NFL season — but I fancy myself something of a degenerate, so I’ve already placed bets for every Week 1 game.

As we get closer to the season, I will certainly put more Week 1 bets — especially player props — into the FTN Bet Tracker. For my favorite season-long player props, check out my piece on my five favorite player props to bet right now

As you research for yourself and place your own Week 1 bets, the odds will change and may be different than what is below, be sure to consult our free NFL odds page, where you can find the most up-to-date lines and easily shop for the best value on the board!

NFL Week 1 Picks 2021

As of now, here are my favorite sides and totals for each game of Week 1 (listed in scheduling order) along with some brief notes. Odds and picks are updated as of August 26th, as you can see.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 1 Odds

Over 51.5 BetMGM: -110

In his two seasons as offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore has overseen a Cowboys attack that has ranked Nos. 1 and 14 in total yards. The Cowboys can move the ball, and that has been reflected in their totals. Over the past two years, Cowboys overs are 20-12, and last year the over was 4-1 in quarterback Dak Prescott’s five starts.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys should be almost as helpless this year as they were last year. It’s very hard to fire coordinator Mike Nolan, hire someone to replace him, and not stumble into an automatic upgrade at the position — but the Cowboys have somehow done it with their “addition” (cough) of coordinator Dan Quinn.

As for the Buccaneers, they are an impressive 23-13 to the over since head coach Bruce Arians joined the team two years ago. They can put up point.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Over 50.5, DraftKings: -110.

I first bet this at 51.5, and then it dropped down to 49 at DraftKings, where I bet the over again, as it was out of line with the 50.5 across the market. Now it’s 50.5 everywhere. 

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 1 Odds

Over 47 BetMGM: -110

Neither defense was good last year, and now both have new coordinators. I expect the Eagles and Falcons alike to allow points early in the year.

For the Eagles, quarterback Jalen Hurts should be able to leverage his Konami Code rushing ability to make plays and extend drives. The sample is small, but in his four starts last year the over was 3-1.

With the Falcons, quarterback Matt Ryan should move into the post-Julio Jones era with grace. He still has a wealth of pass-catching talent at his disposal in wide receiver Calvin Ridley and tight ends Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst. On top of that, new head coach Arthur Smith has been a facilitator of unexpected scoring: In his two years with the Titans as offensive coordinator, they had a league-best over record of 23-12-1.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Over 48, BetMGM -110

I first grabbed this at the key number of 47. Now that it has moved to 48 and I’m likely to get closing line value, I’m not betting it any further.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills Week 1 Odds

Steelers +6.5 at PointsBet: -105

Quarterback Josh Allen was fantastic last year, but the Bills enter 2021 with a world of hype around them, and this number just 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 HC Mike Tomlin.

If you even wanted to back the Steelers on the moneyline (+240 at FanDuel and William Hill), I wouldn’t blame you.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Steelers +7, Unibet, -114

I bet this first at +6.5, and now it has moved to +7. I don’t like that the market has moved against me, but I still see value at this line, so I have bet again on the Steelers.

Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals Week 1 Odds

Vikings (-3) DraftKings: -120

I first bet this at -110, but I would still bet this at a juiced-up -120. 

The Bengals are likely to have quarterback Joe Burrow back for Week 1 after he suffered season-ending ACL and MCL tears in December — but that’s a relatively quick turnaround even in today’s advanced age of sports medicine. I am skeptical that he will be his full freewheeling self in the season opener.

The Vikings will likely be better on defense this year with the return of edge defender Danielle Hunter and possibly the addition of cornerback Patrick Peterson, and HC Mike Zimmer is a true savant at game planning for teams that don’t know him well. In the Zimmer era, the Vikings are a strong 47-27-1 ATS outside of their division.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Vikings -3.5, PointsBet, -110

I bet this at -3, and it has moved to -3.5. Mission accomplished.

Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers Week 1 Odds

Lions +7.5 on FanDuel: -110

I can’t believe I’m betting on kneecap-biting Neanderthal HC Dan Campbell and his uninspiring Lions. I imagine that by halftime of this game, I will hate myself. But the Lions are at home, and the 49ers have an underappreciated penchant for underwhelming as favorites. Against HC Kyle Shanahan, underdogs are 17-9-1 ATS.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Lions +7.5, FanDuel, -110

I’m not adding to the position: I already hate myself for betting on the Lions — but I do stand by the pick and would still bet this now if I didn’t already have a position … and then I would hate myself for betting on the Lions.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Tennessee Titans Week 1 Odds

Over 51.5 at BetMGM: -110

The Cardinals play at a blistering pace, and last year they had a league-high no-huddle rate of 38.4%. Against a Titans defense that had bottom-four marks with 19 sacks and 66 quarterback hits in 2020, the Cardinals should put up points.

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. 

UPDATE Aug. 26

OVER 51.5, DraftKings, -110

I’m not adding to this position, but I still like this bet.

Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts Week 1 Odds

Seahawks +2.5 at BetMGM: +100

Famous last words — but this line is an insult to intelligent sports fans everywhere.

Quarterback Carson Wentz will be starting in his first game with the Colts, and even though he’s reuniting with HC Frank Reich (his former coordinator with the Eagles) the transition from Philadelphia to Indianapolis is not guaranteed to go smoothly.

And Wentz is something of a poisonous proposition as an investment. In the post-injury/hype era of the past three years, opponents were 26-14 ATS against Wentz and his Eagles.

I’ll gladly bet against him — especially if I can have quarterback Russell Wilson, who is a thriving 27-14-2 ATS as an underdog for his career. Over the past decade, discounting Wilson has been a path to poverty.

I think the Seahawks should be favored, which means their moneyline is also very much in play (+125 at DraftKings and PointsBet).

UPDATE Aug. 26

Seahawks -1, FanDuel, -110

I first bet this at +2.5, before Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (foot) had a surgery that was expected to sideline him for possible months. Since then, the line has move, but now it looks like Wentz will play in Week 1. While I still lean toward the Seahawks at this number, I’m happy with the exposure I have and am not adding to the position.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Football Team Odds

Under 45 at BetMGM: -100

HCs Brandon Staley and Ron Rivera are both defense-focused strategists. Last year, Staley’s Rams defense was No. 1 in the league with 4.6 yards allowed per play, and Rivera’s defense was No. 2 with 4.9.

Quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick can sling the ball, but I expect this to be a defensive battle.

UPDATE Aug. 26

UNDER 44.5, BetMGM, -110

I first bet this at 45 and am happy to stick with the position I have.

Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets Week 1 Betting

Panthers -4 at FanDuel: -106

In his first NFL game not as a member of the Jets, quarterback Sam Darnold will play against … the Jets. I love this. In his first professional #RevengeGame, Darnold will get the benefit of throwing to one of the league’s best wide receiver units with D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall and David Moore against maybe the league’s worst secondary.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Panthers -4.5, Unibet, -108

I bet this first at -4. I still think there’s some value at -4.5 but won’t be adding to the position. 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Week 1 Odds

Jaguars -2.5 at BetMGM: -120

I first bet this at -110, but I would still do it at -120.

I am extremely skeptical that quarterback Deshaun Watson will play for the Texans in Week 1, so this is basically a bet on HC Urban Meyer (ugh) and quarterback Trevor Lawrence against … looking up the Texans depth chart … new HC David Culley (whoever that is) and probably quarterback TyRod Taylor (assuming he beats out rookie Davis Mills).

I have little respect for the Jags — but I have absolutely zero respect for the Texans.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Jaguars -3, DraftKings, -105

I bet this at -2.5, but now that it has hit the key number of -3 I’ll stay away.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns Week 1 Odds

Chiefs -6 on DraftKings: -105

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.

HC 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 come out fast.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Chiefs -6, FanDuel, -110

I bet this at -6 and am fine with the position I have, especially since -6.5 has popped up at a couple books.

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots Week 1

Dolphins +2.5 at PointsBet: -110

This line has moved to +2 at most sportsbooks and is even +1.5 at DraftKings, so if you want to back the Fins you should grab this line now.

HC Bill Belichick has been an ATS wizard with the Patriots over the past 20 years — but his reign as the undisputed King of the AFC East has come to an end.

Although the Bills are getting all the divisional hype this year, the Dolphins are underappreciated contenders. HC Brian Flores — a former longtime assistant and positions coach under Belichick — is 20-12 ATS, and if we discount his first four games with the team in Weeks 1-4 of 2019, when he tore the roster down in order to rebuild it, he is 20-8 ATS.

Meanwhile, the Patriots were a mediocre 7-9 ATS last year and enter the 2021 season with an unsettled quarterback situation.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Dolphins +3, Caesars, -110

I bet this first at +2.5 and now the line is +3, so the market has moved against me, which isn’t a great sign. On top of that, the large money is heavily skewed toward the Patriots in The Action Network App (72% of money vs. 51% of bets), which is a bearish indicator.

I’m not adding to this position, because there’s a chance I was just wrong to back the Dolphins at +2.5 in the first place.

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints Week 1 Odds

Packers +3 at BetMGM: -110

Oh, baby. This line is +2.5 at most books but +1 at DraftKings. Every day that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is not traded by the Packers, the better the odds become that he will stay with the team and be the Week 1 starter.

Unless he’s willing to retire, Rodgers has little leverage.

Assuming Rodgers plays, the Saints should be underdogs in their first official game of the post-Drew Brees era. They’re not even sure right now who their Week 1 quarterback will be.

I would bet this line immediately — literally right now! — before it moves.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Packers -3, DraftKings, -110

I bet this line at +3 when the whole saga with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was unfolding over the summer. One of the easiest bets I’ve ever made. But now that the line has moved to -3, I wouldn’t touch it, although I still lean toward the Packers at this number.

Bet the Under in Denver Broncos vs. New York Giants in Week 1

DraftKings: -110

Despite the inflated scoring we saw last year, the Giants had an impressive under record of 12-3-1 in 2020. I guess that’s what you get when mix the hard-nosed defense-driven pragmatism of HC Joe Judge with the slow-paced incompetence of OC Jason Garrett and quarterback Daniel Jones.

As for the Broncos, they should be better on defense with the return of edge rusher Von Miller, and their offense could underwhelm with quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock as the top passing options on the team.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Under 42.5, PointsBet, -105

I grabbed this at 43, so I’m content to hold my position now that the line has moved to 42.5.

NFL Week 1 Picks – Bet the Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears

Rams -7 on BetMGM: -110

HC Sean McVay is 4-0 ATS with the Rams in Week 1 and 7-1 ATS in Weeks 1-2. Maybe that’s just randomness, but McVay is a meticulous planner, and I’m willing to bet that’s the reason his Rams have started fast.

Meanwhile, the Bears will be starting either nearly washed-up veteran Andy Dalton or raw rookie Justin Fields at quarterback in Week 1 — and whoever starts will have a tough matchup against the Rams defense, which was No. 1 last year with 6.2 yards allowed per pass attempt

While HC Matt Nagy got off to a hot start in Chicago, the post-hype era of the past two seasons has not been kind to him: Since 2019, opponents are 21-11-1 ATS against Nagy’s Bears.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Rams -7, FanDuel, -110

I bet this line at -7, and it has popped to -7.5 at a few books. I’m standing pat.

Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders Week 1 Bets

Ravens -4.5 at Unibet: -108

I first got this number at -4 but would bet it still at -4.5.

Even on the road, the Ravens I think 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, HC 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.

UPDATE Aug. 26

Ravens -4, Caesars, -110

I first bet this line at -4.5, which is where it is at every other book, so there’s notable lineshopping value in the -4 at Caesars, and I’m adding to my position at this discounted number.

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