2021 NFL Week 1 Betting Odds and Opening Lines: Three Early Best Bets For Week 1

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert AFC West
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

The start of the 2021 NFL season is unfortunately still a few months away. However things are starting to heat up, and Wednesday marked a big landmark on the calendar. We officially have odds for all the matchups in Week 1 (except for Packers/Saints, thanks Aaron Rodgers). Sportsbooks are offering lines on every game, and you don’t have to wait until September to bet them.

The hunt for value begins now. Early Week 1 odds are often a great spot to pick off mispriced lines that will look a lot different come September 9. Let’s not waste any more time, let’s take a look at all the odds and then break down a few best bets:

2021 NFL Week 1 odds (courtesy of DraftKings)

Cowboys @ Buccaneers (-6.5) – Thursday Night Football

Chargers (-1.5) @ Washington

Steelers @ Bills (-6.5)

49ers (-7.5) @ Lions

Seahawks @ Colts (-2.5)

Vikings (-3.5, +102) @ Bengals

Jaguars (-1.5) @ Texans

Jets @ Panthers (-4.5)

Eagles @ Falcons (-3.5)

Cardinals @ Titans (-2.5)

Browns @ Chiefs (-5.5)

Dolphins @ Patriots (-2)

Broncos (-1.5) @ Giants

Bears @ Rams (-7) – Sunday Night Football

Ravens (-6) @ Raiders – Monday Night Football

A lot of good games. Personally, I’m bummed that we’re not getting a Week 1 MNF doubleheader this year, but other than that there’s nothing to complain about. A few of these lines jumped out to me as having value, let’s talk about them:

Chargers -1.5 @ Washington

It pains me to say this since Washington was so fun to root for last year, but there’s going to be value in fading them this year. That starts in Week 1 of 2021. For starters, the defense can’t possibly play better than it did last year. They made a couple of decent signings, but the unit overachieved in 2020. The passing game was abysmal last season and signing Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel didn’t solve all their issues.

Justin Herbert is coming off one of the most promising rookie quarterback seasons in quite some time, and the Chargers dramatically upgraded his offensive line. They signed All-Pro center Corey Linsley, a quality guard in Matt Feiler, and drafted tackle Rashawn Slater 13th overall. Herbert should now have great protection, which will neutralize this Washington pass-rush. The Chargers were banged up last year, and are a great ‘buy’ candidate early in the season. Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook, Austin Ekeler, and a now rock-solid O-line on offense. Chris Harris Jr., Derwin James, Michael Davis, and Asante Samuel Jr. form a secondary that’s going to be very tough to throw on. Joey Bosa coming off the edge, etc.

Seahawks +2.5 @ Colts

I’m a bit skeptical of this Seahawks team, but I’m even more skeptical of Carson Wentz. This line seems to assume Frank Reich will get Wentz back to his 2017-18 form, when that’s a bold assumption to make. Wentz was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in 2019 and 2020, and a simple change of scenery can’t fix all his issues. Philip Rivers quietly played really well for the Colts last year, so I don’t see how this isn’t a big downgrade under center. The team also lost stud left tackle Anthony Castonzo to retirement this offseason. They signed Eric Fisher to replace him, but Fisher likely won’t be ready for Week 1 after his torn Achilles.

Sam Tevi is almost certainly going to be manning Wentz’s blindside in this game. Tevi was a starter for the Chargers the past few years and was consistently one of the worst tackles in the league. Carlos Dunlap is licking his chops for this matchup. Indy also did literally nothing at the skill positions this offseason, and a receiver group headlined by a 31-year-old T.Y. Hilton is underwhelming.

On defense, the Colts still have virtually no outside pass-rush other than rookie first-round pick Kwity Paye. I wouldn’t expect him to rattle Russell Wilson too much in his first career game. This is more a fade of the Colts than anything else, as oddsmakers are giving Reich too much credit. For what it’s worth, the Colts have lost seven straight times in Week 1 dating back to 2013. The Seahawks would also make a great six-point teaser leg here up through the key numbers of three and seven to 8.5.

Chiefs -5.5 vs. Browns

To see that this line is off, all you need to do is go back a few months. These same teams played in this same stadium right at the end of the season, in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. The Chiefs were 9.5 or 10-point favorites in that game. Sure the Browns added a couple of guys on defense and will have Odell Beckham Jr. (coming off an ACL tear) back, but the Chiefs made plenty of upgrades too. There certainly hasn’t been anything drastic enough to warrant a four or five-point swing here. The Chiefs will also have a much bigger home-field advantage here than they did in that January game, since they should have a full-capacity raucous crowd. Oddsmakers don’t seem to be accounting for that.

Patrick Mahomes went from running for his life in the Super Bowl to now having one of the best offensive lines in the league. Kansas City signed Joe Thuney to the biggest contract ever for a guard, traded for Orlando Brown Jr. to give Mahomes a stud left tackle, lured Kyle Long out of retirement, and will get back Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from his COVID-19 opt-out. It wouldn’t have been possible for the unit to get a better overhaul. I don’t envision Baker Mayfield playing any better than he did in 2020, and Cleveland’s ground game can’t really get any better than it was.

There’s been a lot of excitement and buzz about the Browns after their very successful campaign, and that buzz has artificially boosted their perception in the market. Fade that perception and grab the value with the Chiefs, this line should be closer to a touchdown.

Can’t wait for the NFL season to begin? Well, luckily Pickswise is also the home of free MLB predictionsNBA predictions , and NHL predictions.

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