Best 2021 NFL Games: 7 Most Intriguing Early-Season Matchups With Spreads

Written By Stephen Andress on May 12, 2021
best 2021 nfl games

The NFL released its 2021 NFL schedule, and fans of all 32 teams are already studying it from Week 1 to the newly added Week 17. The first few weeks of the season though have some of the best 2021 NFL games on the entire schedule.

Here’s a look at some of those mouth-watering matchups, along with opening spreads if available, win totals, Super Bowl futures, and against the spread records from a year ago.

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Best 2021 NFL Games: Week 1

Cowboys at Buccaneers (); Thursday 8:20 PM ET, NBC

The 2021 NFL season kicks off with the defending Super Bowl champions taking on Dallas in the return of Dak Prescott from a season-ending ankle injury. The Cowboys were not only 6-10 last year without their starting quarterback for most of the season but miserable against the spread as well, with a mark of 5-11 ATS. Dallas has a win total this season sitting at 9.5 (under ). Super Bowl futures sit at in Big D. As for Tampa Bay, more on them below.

Browns at Chiefs (); Sunday 4:25PM, CBS

A rematch of last season’s AFC divisional round playoff game, in which Kansas City survived 22-17 without Patrick Mahomes at the end of the game. Ironically, the spread this time is right there with the margin of that game. The Chiefs do open 2021 again as the Super Bowl favorites at . They also have the highest win total in the league at 12.5 (under ). The Chiefs may have gone 14-2 last year but were only 9-7 against the spread. Meanwhile, the Browns are right in the mix in the AFC, and their Super Bowl odds reflect that as the fourth choice in the conference to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy at , with a win total of 10.5 (under ) for the new 17-game season. The Browns were also poor against the spread last year, with an ATS mark of 6-10, despite an overall record of 11-5.

Packers () at Saints; 4:25 PM ET, FOX

An intriguing game considering we have no idea at this point who will be the starting quarterback of either team. Aaron Rodgers trade rumors have not gone away, and the Saints will have a quarterback competition between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to see who replaces future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. This line would shift dramatically if Rodgers is not in Green Bay. Packers win totals are off the board after opening at 10.5 with the Rodgers uncertainty. Green Bay was 10-6 against the spread a year ago. Meanwhile, the Saints were 9-7 ATS, despite going 12-4. New Orleans has the biggest drop in projected win total in the NFL from their 2020 wins, with an over/under of just 9 wins (over ). They dropped into longshot territory to win the Super Bowl at .

FIRST LOOK: NFL Week 1 Odds And Lines Comparisons At US Sportsbooks

Best 2021 NFL Games: Week 2

Rams at Colts; Sunday 1:00 PM ET, FOX

Two playoff teams with a couple of the most complete rosters in the NFL but changes at quarterback entering the 2021 seasons. Los Angeles tries to upgrade from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford. Indianapolis replaces the retired Philip Rivers with Carson Wentz, hoping his old offensive coordinator in Philadelphia Frank Reich will rekindle Wentz as head coach of the Colts. The Rams skyrocketed up futures boards with the addition of Stafford, now at , tied for the third choice in the odds behind the Chiefs and Bucs. Despite playing in perhaps the best top to bottom division in the NFL in the NFC West, LA has a win total of 10.5 (under ). Meanwhile, Indianapolis has a win total of 10 (under ), with odds to win it all at . The Rams were 9-7 against the spread in 2020 with an overall record of 10-6. The Colts were 8-8 ATS with an overall record of 11-5.

Best 2021 NFL Games: Week 3

Eagles at Cowboys; Monday 8:15 PM ET, ESPN

This game will tell us a lot about which direction these two franchises are heading in 2021. The first meeting of the season between these two fan bases that absolutely hate each other. If the Cowboys lose, panic sets in. If the Eagles lose, fans will already start looking at mock drafts. Philadelphia has a new coaching staff and new starting quarterback, and Dallas is in year two of its staff looking to contend for a Super Bowl in 2021 with Dak Prescott back under center. The oddsmakers aren’t expecting much from Philadelphia, with a win total of 6.5 (over ). The Eagles and Cowboys have split the season series each of the past two years. Philly were 6-10 against the spread last season with an overall record of 4-11-1.

Best 2021 NFL Games: Week 4

Buccaneers (-3.5) at Patriots; Sunday 8:20 PM ET, NBC

Tom Brady and the Bucs are to defend their Super Bowl title, and the game everybody has had circled since the most successful quarterback of all time left New England now has a date. Brady will take on Bill Belichick and the re-tooled Pats to close out the first month of the season on Sunday Night Football. Tampa Bay has a win total of 11.5 (over ) in 2021 and went 9-7 against the spread in 2020. The Patriots have a win total of 9 (over ) and were 7-9 ATS a year ago. Bill Belichick and company are longshots to win the Super Bowl.

Best 2021 NFL Games: Week 5

Bills at Chiefs (-3.5); Sunday 8:20 PM ET, NBC

One month after Patrick Mahomes has a rematch of Kansas City’s divisional round playoff game, the Chiefs will have a rematch of the 2020 AFC Championship game. Preseason expectations are much higher in Buffalo this time around though as the reigning AFC East champions. The Bills have a lofty win total of 11 (under ) with Super Bowl odds currently at . Buffalo is the second choice in championship futures among AFC teams and tied for third in the odds overall with the Rams. The Bills thrilled Buffalo fans and bettors last season with an against the spread record of 11-5, covering in all but two of their 2020 wins.

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Stephen Andress

Stephen Andress joined Catena Media as Managing Editor of in March 2021. He began his career as a sports anchor and reporter in Eugene, OR before moving to Louisville, KY. There he covered the Kentucky Derby, Sugar Bowl and three consecutive Final Fours. Stephen later won an Emmy award while working for the Indianapolis Colts. More recently, he produced content for the PGA TOUR and multiple fantasy football and sports betting websites. Nothing has excited him more in his career than seeing legalized sports betting in the United States and the opportunity to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for it. His hobbies include kicking his high school friends' butts in fantasy football, Japanese whisky and Kentucky bourbon, golf outrights and supporting RIP Medical Debt, a charity which works to wipe out medical bills for those who have been unable to cover the cost of getting sick.

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