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NFL picks, Week 1: Underdog bets to consider

While there are a bunch of games with large spreads, check out the three matchups expected to favor the underdog.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones scores a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

While April showers bring May flowers, the fall chill brings some NFL thrill. Ok, that’s pretty corny, but I can’t contain my excitement. Football is back! The preseason is finally over, leaving us to enjoy games that count on Sunday. The start of the NFL season also means plenty of wagering opportunities over on the DK Sportsbook.

Week 1 can be a tricky time in the betting world given all of the changes that teams have undergone during the offseason. Also, with some of the top players in the league seeing little-to-no action during the preseason, some offenses might not be completely in sync. For example, take a look at the ugly 10-3 game we saw Thursday night between the Packers and Bears. Yes, the Bears have one of the best defenses in the league, but both teams looked off, offensively.

There are some heavy favorites that are very appealing, including the Eagles taking on the lackluster Redskins and their depleted offensive line at home. There are also a few underdogs who could be worth taking a chance on, which is what we will focus on for this article. Let’s dive into the matchups and see which opportunities stand out as ones to target for the opening weekend of action.

Bills (+2.5) at Jets (O/U 40.5)

There’s nothing like a divisional matchup to get the juices flowing right out of the gate. The Bills and Jets were the worst two teams in the AFC East last season, going a combined 10-22. With how much the Dolphins have stripped down their roster during the offseason, these two teams figure to battle it out for second place behind the Patriots, and possibly for a Wild Card berth in the AFC.

The Jets are the favorites here at home and made some key additions to help strengthen their offense during the spring. The big move was bringing in running back Le’Veon Bell, who sat out all of last season with the Steelers due to a contract dispute. They also added veteran wide receiver Jamison Crowder in an effort to help the development of quarterback Sam Darnold.

The Bills also made some key additions to try and further the progress of their young quarterback Josh Allen. They added a significant deep threat in John Brown while also bringing in reliable slot receiver Cole Beasley. Add in their mix of Frank Gore, Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon at running back and this could be a dangerous offense.

Some key stats to consider is that the underdog has won seven of the last eight games between these two teams. Also, the Jets have failed to cover the spread in each of their last five home games. That makes taking the Bills at +2.5 an even more enticing risk to consider.

Falcons (+4) at Vikings (O/U 47.5)

This will be a matchup of two teams with playoff aspirations in the NFC. Both teams barely missed out on a Wild Card spot last year and have offenses with plenty of upside. The Vikings also have lots of talent on the defensive side of the ball, led by the likes of Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen up front. Quarterback Kirk Cousins will also be looking to build on a productive first season with Minnesota that saw him throw for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns.

The Falcons’ calling card is their offense. They scored 414 points last year, which was the fifth-highest total in the NFC. They return most of their key contributors, including quarterback Matt Ryan and star wide receiver Julio Jones. Devonta Freeman will also look to bounce back from a season in which he was limited to only two games due to injury.

While the Vikings are at home and have a good defense, the Falcons have the offensive firepower to give anyone trouble. They have won each of their last five September games as underdogs and the underdogs have covered the spread in each of the Falcons’ last five Week 1 games. Even though they might not win this game outright, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them cover given this line.

Steelers (+5.5) at Patriots (O/U 49.5)

The defending Super Bowl champions will face a tough task right out of the gate in the Steelers. The Steelers have lost two cornerstones of their recent success in Bell and Antonio Brown, but they have excellent young players including JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner to fill the voids. They also still have veteran Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, who finished with career-highs in passing yards (5,129) and touchdown passes (34) last season.

Meanwhile, the Patriots embark on the season without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired after an illustrious career. They didn’t make any big moves to replace him, but their offense did receive a boost with the reinstatement of wide receiver Josh Gordon. Add in a productive group of running backs to go along with Tom Brady and they will once again be in the hunt for another title.

The Steelers winning this game seems unlikely considering the Patriots have won each of their last 16 games at home. However, this is a significant line and the Steelers have covered the spread in each of their last five games as underdogs. With their offensive talent, they can keep this close, so taking the road dogs here could prove to be profitable.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mbarner51) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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