The NFL released its full 2020 schedule in what its fans, players and coaches hope is another step towards an on-time season. Oddsmakers naturally wasted no time in rolling out Week 1 spreads, totals and moneylines.
As is the case with all other sports, this promises to be a season like no other for the NFL. That will likely extend to the betting realm. There’s still plenty of uncertainty ahead of the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one major factor that could influence lines may be reduced or outright absence of home-field advantage for teams due to crowd size restrictions in the fall.
All of the lingering questions will be answered in some form ahead of Week 1, whenever that unfolds. In the interim, here’s a look at the opening lines from DraftKings Sportsbook, along with a quick initial take on each matchup.
NFL Week 1 odds and analysis
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) – Thursday, Sept. 10
The Texans’ Super Bowl LV futures have taken a dive since the trade of DeAndre Hopkins, even after the subsequent acquisition of Brandin Cooks helped make up for the All-Pro receiver’s departure to an extent and Houston also netted the talented but sometimes underachieving David Johnson from Arizona. Therefore, it’s little surprise the defending champions are a consensus double-digit favorite at Arrowhead to open the 2020 season. Kansas City is an odds-on favorite to repeat for good reason – it arguably retained every key piece it wanted to this offseason and added a dynamic running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, in the draft.
The Texans will be an interesting team to prognosticate heading into the season opener. Will Cooks and fellow newcomer Randall Cobb collectively make up for Hopkins’ absence? Then, what will Johnson bring to the table with a fresh start? All those questions will presumably begin to be answered in this primetime rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Round Game, but it will likely still come down to defense for Houston. After doing a reasonably good job on Patrick Mahomes in their Week 6, 31-24 victory over KC, they allowed him rack up five touchdown passes in the postseason loss.
Sunday, Sept. 13
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-7.5)
The second chapter of the Brian Flores Era kicks off where the first one successfully concluded. However, it will be a significantly different Patriots team the Dolphins will face this time around. Gone is future Hall of Famer and franchise stalwart Tom Brady, and with his departure, the entire dynamic of the squad naturally changes. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are likely to stick with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the season, but the prominent shadow of Tua Tagovailoa will loom large behind him all year.
Just who New England will have under center will be one of the big questions surrounding this game. Jarret Stidham remains the odds-on favorite barring any additional signings at the position for New England, but Cam Newton remained out on the open market in early May. For its part, Miami was flush with cap room entering free agency and utilized a sizable chunk of it, remaking a defense that was often a trouble spot last season in the process. How much the public perceives the gap has closed between the two squads – and how a potentially reduced Gillette Stadium crowd dings New England’s home-field advantage – will help dictate the future flow of this line.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
The Packers open 2020 in a familiar setting, facing a Vikings crew now without one of its most explosive weapons of the last few seasons — Stefon Diggs. Minnesota may have found a fine replacement via the draft in the form of LSU product Justin Jefferson, however, and much of last season’s key figures will return to the fold. The Pack did sweep Minnesota in 2019 on their way to a 13-3 record, but their season ended in significant disappointment when they were manhandled by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
The problem for Green Bay is the same issue that played a big part in their undoing at the end of 2019 seems destined to plague them again to start 2020. There is still no reliable No. 2 receiver opposite Davante Adams, despite the free-agent addition of Devin Funchess. Additionally, there’s now also a lack of a proven tight-end option with Jimmy Graham in Chicago. The Pack’s defense – which struggled to stop the run most of last season — will have to figure out how to slow down Dalvin Cook, who rattled off 154 rushing yards on 20 carries in his one 2019 meeting against them.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5)
With Brady finally out of the AFC East, the Bills’ championship aspirations are as high as they’ve been in many years. Meanwhile, the Jets automatically figure to have a smoother ride than last season if they can just keep quarterback Sam Darnold upright and healthy, but they’ll have a tall order to open things up on the road against what should be one of the league’s stingiest defenses. Buffalo made some solid free-agent additions to that unit as well before adding edge rusher A.J. Epenesa in the draft. They also now have what could be one of the league’s best young backfield duos in Devin Singletary and third-round pick Zach Moss and also made a big trade with the Vikings that netted Stefon Diggs.
The Bills needed a comeback to notch a 17-16 Week 1 win against New York on the road last season. Buffalo was surprisingly just 4-4 straight up on their home turf in ’19, and just 3-5 ATS there. However, the Jets were 3-5 against the number when traveling last year as well. Their Week 17 victory against Buffalo at New Era Field came with the Bills resting multiple starters ahead of their Wild Card Game the following weekend.
Indianapolis Colts (-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have a solid array of young offensive players and open at home, but they do so versus a Colts squad that brought in Philip Rivers on a one-year rental to make a push for the Super Bowl. Indianapolis understandably teetered in the second half last season after T.Y. Hilton missed significant time with a calf injury and Andrew Luck walked away from the game altogether late in the preseason. Indy’s second-half collapse in 2019 left them with a 7-9 mark for the season, but this year’s team is believed to have the talent to improve on that tally by a considerable margin.
The Jags are still projected to finish near the bottom of the barrel in not just the division, but the league overall. Jacksonville rid itself of some higher-priced veterans (A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell, Nick Foles) via trade and may have also jettisoned the franchise-tagged Yannick Ngaokoue by the time this game kicks off. Last season, the Colts handled the Jags by a 33-13 score in a mid-November meeting in Indy. In turn, Jacksonville’s 38-20 win over Indianapolis at home in Week 17 carries an asterisk to some degree, given both squads were eliminated from playoff contention.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-1)
It remains to be seen whether it will be Mitchell Trubisky – whose fifth-year option the Bears recently declined to pick up – or Nick Foles under center in this season-opening contest for Chicago. They’ll square up against a Lions squad that should have a healthy Matthew Stafford back at the helm and a key new addition in the form of running back D’Andre Swift. Detroit also devoted plenty of resources in free agency, trades and the draft to defense by nabbing the likes of Jamie Collins, Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah. Therefore, this could be one of the league’s more improved units.
The Bears’ most pervasive problem last season was its inconsistent offense, and given Detroit’s reinforcements on defense, this may be a tough way for Chicago to open its season. The Bears did pull off the series sweep last season, including a 24-20 win on Thanksgiving in Ford Field. However, it’s worth noting that victory came against third-string quarterback David Blough and with Detroit missing top running Kerryon Johnson. Additionally, the Bears sported the worst record ATS of any road team in the NFL in 2019, going 1-6 against the number.
Las Vegas Raiders (-1) at Carolina Panthers
Jon Gruden’s crew struck out on getting Tom Brady on board this offseason so they’ll head into 2020 hoping to see Derek Carr take a sizable step forward in what could be his make-it-or-break-it year. He’ll have a one-time first-round pick, Marcus Mariota, behind him on the depth chart, so Carr will come into this game and season with a bit of extra pressure on his shoulders. The good news for the veteran quarterback is he’ll have a dynamic new weapon in first-round pick Henry Ruggs III to add to a cadre of pass-catchers that already includes Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.
On the other sideline, this game will see the Panthers take the field with Teddy Bridgewater and not Cam Newton under center, a sight that will take some getting used to for the Carolina faithful. All-World running back Christian McCaffrey, fresh off an extension that makes him the league’s highest-paid player at his position, will look to exploit a Raiders defense that sprung its share of leaks last season. Interestingly, despite a rough 2019 season, the Panthers found success in interconference games, going 3-1 both straight up and against the spread versus AFC opponents.
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at Washington Redskins
The Eagles open with a rematch of the 2019 season opener that saw them notch a come-from-behind 32-27 win. Carson Wentz should be at full health and will be backed up by surprise second-round pick Jalen Hurts. Jalen Reagor and Marquise Goodwin, added through the draft and trade, respectively, bring speed to a receiving corps headed up by the injury-prone and aging duo of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson.
Dwayne Haskins might be the presumptive favorite to line up under center for Washington in this game ahead of training camp and preseason. The rookie seemed to be improving by the end of the season, but Kyle Allen is a player new head coach Ron Rivera knows well from their days in Carolina. Last year’s rookie standout receiver Terry McLaurin will look to take another step forward. The defense, fortified by No. 2 overall pick Chase Young and several pieces in free agency, will look to contain a Philly team that rang up a combined 69 points against them in two 2019 meetings.
The Redskins checked in at just 1-5 (16.7 percent) against the number in NFC East matchups last season and 2-6 (25.0) percent versus the spread as a home team.
Seattle Seahawks (-1) at Atlanta Falcons
The ‘Hawks will head across the country to open the campaign against a Falcons team looking to rebound from a forgettable 2019. Both squads return the majority of their prime skill-position players, but Atlanta did swap out Devonta Freeman for surprising Rams release Todd Gurley. Seattle also gained yet another speedster for its receiving corps in Phillip Dorsett and brought in the aging but still effective Greg Olsen, giving their already impressive offense a talent upgrade.
Atlanta appears to have some depth issues at receiver behind the starting duo of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The remainder of the position group is a heaping helping of question marks. There are also some doubts about Gurley’s troublesome knee, but there are slightly more proven options to complement the former Ram in the form of Brian Hill and Ito Smith. The defense will also be looking to rebound from a rollercoaster year that saw them play at both ends of the spectrum at different points.
The Falcons will also be facing one of the league’s best-performing road teams last season and postseason – Seattle was 8-2 straight up and 6-3-1 ATS when traveling.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-8)
Neither a rash of big offseason moves nor the anticipated Year 2 development of Baker Mayfield unfolded quite as planned for the Browns in 2019. Cleveland draws the proverbial short straw to open 2020 as well. The Ravens will play with a chip on their collective shoulder all season after being unceremoniously and surprisingly dumped from the playoffs in the divisional round by the Titans last January.
Baltimore already sported the top rushing offense in the NFL last season thanks in large part to Lamar Jackson’s elite skills. They proceeded to add Ohio State standout J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the draft. The rest of the components that made the Ravens so explosive – Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews among them – are also back, while an already stout defense improved with the additions of Derek Wolfe, Calais Campbell and Patrick Queen this offseason. Cleveland did hand the Ravens a surprising 40-25 Week 4 loss last year, but there was no questioning which team was superior by season’s end.
Baltimore was actually a mediocre 4-5 against the number last regular season and postseason at home, but the Browns checked in just 2-6 ATS when traveling. Both squads were 3-3 ATS in AFC North matchups.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
In addition to Joe Burrow’s pro debut, this game should also mark the return of Bengals franchise legend A.J. Green, who missed all of 2019 with a serious ankle injury. There will be intrigue on the Chargers’ end of things as well. For the first time since 2005, the Bolts will begin a season without Philip Rivers under center. Whether veteran Tyrod Taylor or sixth overall pick Justin Herbert is at the controls come Week 1 will be something to watch.
Burrow actually has a more talented supporting cast than Cincy’s 2-14 mark from 2019 would imply. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and rookie Tee Higgins make up a formidable receiving corps. Joe Mixon managed to still rush for 1,137 yards last season and notch eight total touchdowns despite the team’s atrocious season. Burrow will have a tough assignment right out of the chute, however. The Chargers’ pass defense was among the stingiest in the league last season. Los Angeles allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards per game (200.3) and picked off 11 passes.
Unsurprisingly the Bengals generated an ugly 2-6 mark ATS at home last season, while L.A. posted a 3-3-2 tally against the number on the road.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-8.5)
The 49ers begin their defense of the 2019 NFC crown against a division rival that played them tough last season despite dropping both games to San Francisco. The Niners return a significant portion of the players that brought them so much success, although Emmanuel Sanders did depart in free agency. Arizona will be eager to get the second season of the Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray era off the ground and have added an All-Pro receiver who seems a tailor-made fit for the offense’s short-area, quick-hitting passes – DeAndre Hopkins.
The trade with the Texans for Hopkins also featured a bit of independent addition by subtraction. By sending Houston the talented but sometimes underachieving David Johnson, Kingsbury freed up his backfield logjam and cleared a path for Kenyan Drake and Trey Edmonds to potentially form a dynamic 1-2 punch. The former notably made his Cardinals debut Halloween night against San Fran and went for 110 yards and a TD on 15 carries in a 28-25 loss.
As good as the Niners in 2019, they weren’t elite against the spread at home or in division games. San Fran was 5-4-1 and 2-3-1 in those scenarios, respectively, during last season and postseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-4)
Although it’s not a primetime clash, this nationally televised late-window game could possibly draw the most attention of the week from both the general and betting public. Tom Brady and Drew Brees on the marquee already guarantees an audience. Factor in it’s Brady’s first NFL game in anything other than a Patriots uniform – and that he’s joined by legendary battery mate Rob Gronkowski after a one-year retirement – and you’ve got exponentially more interest and anticipation. The two teams also played an exciting Week 5 game at the Superdome last season and have seen four of their last five meetings exceed 50 total points.
New Orleans may not have its usual home-field edge available due to COVID-19-related circumstances, which could make this game even closer than it was already likely destined to be. One big offseason acquisition of note for the Saints is Emmanuel Sanders, who’ll challenge the young and inconsistent Buccaneers pass defense and gives Brees an outstanding No. 2 alongside unquestioned top option Michael Thomas. However, the Bucs will also have to watch out for another altogether different pass-catching threat in Alvin Kamara – the versatile back logged almost as many receptions (16) as carries (19) in his two games versus Tampa last season.
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Los Angeles Rams
A star-studded Cowboys offense that got even stronger with the first-round selection of CeeDee Lamb opens in prime time against a Rams squad without two key offensive pieces from recent seasons. Both Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks are gone, now suiting up for the Falcons and Texans, respectively. How much firepower does that leave coach Sean McVay, particularly against a loaded Dallas attack that might force his team to keep its foot on the gas all four quarters?
McVay’s offensive attack, one of the league’s best in 2018, was a mere shadow of itself at times last season. The fact he had all his main weapons at his disposal throughout the season and even saw the emergence of another in tight end Tyler Higbee made L.A.’s underwhelming 9-7 mark all the more perplexing. One of those seven losses came at AT & T Stadium versus this same Cowboys team in Week 15, a 44-21 shellacking that made the Rams’ slim playoff hopes even thinner.
The Rams were just average ATS at the Coliseum (3-3-1) in 2019, so it will be interesting to see if they eventually garner a slight home-field edge in the books going into this game.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at NY Giants — Monday, Sept. 14
The second and final interconference matchup of the season’s opening slate features two proud franchises looking to put difficult 2019 campaigns behind them. Pittsburgh should have some consistent, competent quarterback play at its disposal again after enduring almost an entire season without Ben Roethlisberger last year. Meanwhile, the G-Men will hope to reap immediate dividends from their offseason shopping, which included multiple upgrades to what was a highly suspect defense last season.
The Steelers battled fiercely to an 8-8 record in 2019 despite Roethlisberger, James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster all missing significant time and/or playing hurt. Therefore, it wouldn’t exactly surprise to see a Black and Yellow Renaissance with all those pieces back at full strength, a still ferocious defense, and one of the draft’s potential sleepers in Chase Claypool added to an already impressive receiving corps. The Giants could also put pressure on defenses all season if Daniel Jones takes the next step and both Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram can avoid the injury bug.
Pittsburgh and New York held 3-1 and 1-3 records ATS in 2019 non-conference games, respectively. Then, the Steelers own a 32-22 mark (59.3 percent) against the spread overall versus AFC opponents during coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure (2007-present).
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (-1.5) — Monday, Sept. 14
One of last season’s Cinderella stories, the Titans, will be on a mission to prove an improbable run that left them just a game short of the Super Bowl wasn’t a fluke. They’ll start that journey versus a Broncos team which saw Drew Lock make strides late last season and signed Melvin Gordon in free agency to pair with Phillip Lindsay. Denver then drafted two more weapons for Lock in Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler and nabbed both A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey to shore up the defense.
The Titans come into 2020 with the high degree of confidence advancing to the AFC Championship Game and boasting the league’s 2019 rushing champion will give a team. Fresh off his league-high 1,540 rushing yards, Derrick Henry will once again spearhead the offense. However, Ryan Tannehill, who received $62 million guaranteed in his offseason contract extension, should certainly play a pivotal role after leading Tennessee into the postseason with a 7-3 run to finish the 2019 regular season.
Tennessee frequently came through for bettors as a road team last season/postseason – they were 7-4 ATS when traveling. However, Denver countered with a 5-3 mark against the number in Empower Field at Mile High.