West Virginia NFL sports betting fans, the time has come. Here’s your Week 1 NFL betting preview.
The opening set of 16 games, complete with compelling matchups and human-interest stories, begins Thursday night.
The last game you saw involved the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 2.
The next one will also involve the Chiefs, defending that title Thursday night. They have been at -9 or -9.5 for the past two weeks as they host the Houston Texans.
It’s a rematch of their epic postseason shootout, in which the Chiefs overcame a 24-0 second-quarter deficit to win 51-31.
WV sportsbooks expect another shootout. The over-under opened at 54 points, the highest across the league. Only the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams, at 52 points for their Sunday night matchup, eclipsed 50.
Let’s examine teams of interest to the WV sports betting customer, the league as a whole, and the offseason moves not analyzed in the nonexistent preseason.
The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football” with a betting tailwind behind them. Steelers backers pounded that line from -4 to -5 in weekend wagering.
The Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns square off, with the Ravens highly favored. Baltimore went 14-2 last year before losing in the playoffs. The Browns are the last team to defeat the Ravens in the regular season. That was in Week 4 last year.
The Ravens feature star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who literally toyed with opposing defenses last year. He rushed for a league-record 1,206 yards, and FanDuel Sportsbook paid off those with Jackson MVP props well before the end of the season. Jackson went on to win the MVP.
Cleveland comes off a disappointing season. The Browns were expected to make the playoffs last year and did not.
The Washington Football Team, formerly the Redskins, hosts the Philadelphia Eagles as a “live underdog” at +6. Washington played the Eagles tough in two nail-biting losses last year, especially the second. It had the lead before yielding the go-ahead score with 32 seconds left in that one.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins helped Washington play with a different attitude late last year. Washington tries to reverse a 3-13 campaign.
Here are some compelling offseason storylines leading into the opening week.
Burrow debuts as a Bengal
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow led LSU to the national title in January. Eight months later, the Ohio native and NFL’s No. 1 draft pick leads the Bengals against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Burrow has reasonably high expectations on the DraftKings Sportsbook circuit with a season prop over-under of 3,700 yards. That would put him among the league’s better quarterbacks.
Will he have the weapons? Can he change the culture of a 2-14 team from last year?
Tom Brady left New England …
The four-time Super Bowl MVP and holder of six Super Bowl rings went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were 7-9 last year.
Tampa Bay surged from a 50-1 Super Bowl choice in March to 14-1 at most books. Is that too much of a jump? The Bucs also coaxed Brady’s favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, out of retirement.
Is Tampa Bay ready to dethrone the longtime NFC South champion New Orleans Saints? An indication comes in Week 1, when Tampa Bay visits New Orleans. Tampa Bay was originally a 4.5-point dog, but its bettors jumped on this line over the weekend, driving it down to +3.5. Saints bettors will be ready to pounce if this moves to 2.5.
… and Cam Newton replaced Brady
The former Carolina Panther has appeared in one Super Bowl, a losing effort. He was sidelined with a foot injury much of last year, and the Panthers floundered. Can he bring life to the Patriots offense, which looked stale last year?
The synergy between Newton and the Patriots is a good one. He’s a strong running threat and wants to make up for a lost season. Newton being hungry and the Patriots looking to obtain new energy could be a promising combination. The New England Patriots host the Miami Dolphins, who beat them in the last game of the regular season.
A note about the AFC East. BetMGM Sportsbook has nobody — the Patriots, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills or Dolphins — pegged to win more than eight games. Watch the parity in this division. The Jets visit the Bills in the opener.
Other storylines: Drew Lock led the Denver Broncos to wins in three of their last four games last season but is listed below most of the league’s quarterbacks, including Burrow, for expectations this year. The critics could be missing something here. We’ll find out Monday night, when the Broncos host the Tennessee Titans.
Here are two excellent games
The Minnesota Vikings are picked to unseat the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North. The teams meet Sunday, with the host Vikings favored by less than a field goal when the week started.
The Dallas Cowboys, projected as the slight favorite over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, visit the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night in what should be a barnburner. Watch this line. Rams bettors slammed it at -2.5, driving it to 3 late in the weekend. If it goes to 3.5, Dallas bettors will be all over it.
Another one of the Week 1 NFL picks from the model: The Baltimore Ravens (-8) cover at home against the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens were the AFC’s top team during the regular season last year but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Titans. They’re motivated to take the next step in 2020 as reigning MVP Lamar Jackson begins his second full season under center.
Baltimore also added to its elite rushing attack by drafting J.K. Dobbins, who will join Mark Ingram in the backfield. The Ravens cover in well over 50% of simulations, while the over (48.5) clears almost 60% of the time.
Week 1 NFL betting odds
WV live betting odds are constantly changing. Make sure you have the latest information before you bet.