Are you ready for some football? If not, leave! Just kidding. Please stay.
The NFL season kicks off on Thursday, September 9 with the defending champion Buccaneers raising their banner and hosting the Dallas Cowboys.
The NFL then plays its first full slate of games on Sunday with 28 teams in action. The week wraps up with a Monday night matchup between Baltimore and Vegas in the Raiders new fancy stadium.
If at least part of what I just said doesn’t get you a little bit excited you are not in the right place. I know I just begged you to stay, but seriously, if reading about all the upcoming football games did nothing for you then I don’t really know what to say. You’re hopeless.
I’m not going to give a detailed breakdown and pick on every single game but I will give my take on Buccaneers-Cowboys as well as go over the 1pm slate on Sunday and give my opinions on which games are worth watching, which are worth putting money on, and which should simply remain white background noise in your living room as you meal prep for the following week.
Super Bowl LVI is in Los Angeles for the first time since the Cowboys killed the Bills at the Rose Bowl in ‘93.
Several fan bases fully expect a title this year – including the Bucs, Chiefs, Packers, and Rams. If you believe everything you see on the internet, Cowboys fans are also very hopeful this year.
The now 289-game season kicks off Thursday and everyone’s goal of watching every snap of the NFL this year is still intact! Let’s dig in!
DAL @ TB (-8)
9/9 8:20 PM ET
Cowboys are 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS over the past 10 seasons in Week 1 games as the underdog.
Tom Brady began the Tampa stint of his career on a sour note last season – throwing 2 picks and dropping the opener in the Superdome to New Orleans 34-23.
Brady did not surpass 250 passing yards until Week 3 in Denver and did not dazzle us until Week 4 vs the Chargers.
Reports out of Bucs camp indicate Tom Brady is healthier than ever, now freely moving about the pocket on a surgically repaired left knee. The 44-year-old is entering his 22nd season in the league and is looking to get out of the gates faster than last year.
The 2020 Bucs were a hodgepodge of superstars thrown together and told to go win a ‘ship. The team experienced its growing pains throughout the season and even underwent the dreaded mid-season offensive scheme overhaul.
Tampa is returning its uber-talented core for 2021 and has the advantage of an entire season of play together plus a full training camp and preseason (neither of which they had in 2020). Most folks around the league are predicting big things once again for Tom Brady and his Bucs.
While giving Brady 6 months to prepare for any opponent is dangerous, DFW-area sports writer Reid Hanson dug up some numbers which illustrate that a monster game might be in store for Tom Brady in Week 1.
Not to alarm anyone but Tom Brady is best QB in the NFL against Dallas’ MOF-closed looks. In Atlanta, Dan Quinn ran MOF-closed looks 76% of the time (Cover-3 47% & Cover-1 29%) per @SportsSturm Let’s hope the Dallas Cowboys mix things up. #CowboysNation #DALvsTB pic.twitter.com/zs7kO3bEbQ
— Reid D Hanson (@ReidDHanson) September 8, 2021
New Cowboys D-coordinator Dan Quinn (formerly the HC of the Atlanta Falcons) has used lots of Cover 1 and Cover 3 shells in the past. Tom Brady eats these for breakfast.
Expect 1 of 2 things to happen: either Quinn sticks with his system and Brady eats it up or Quinn forces his defense to adopt a 1-week only strategy in an attempt to slow down a 44-year-old immortal … either way this is gonna be a fun one Thursday night!
My pick: take the over on Buccaneers points scored. We have no guarantee Tampa’s defense will be firing on all cylinders but Tom Brady should be good.
SEA @ IND (+2.5)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
Big time steam of 4 points has turned Seattle from slight dogs to nearly a field goal favorite in Week 1 at Lucas Oil.
Bettors have realized that Seattle is 4-2 SU over the past 10 seasons as Week 1 favorites – creating a snowball effect as more and more money gets piled on the ‘Hawks line. Here’s the thing: although Seattle has performed well historically in their openers – they are just 2-4 ATS in that span.
As 2.5-point favorites, the spread does not matter as much as say a 5 or 6-point line. If I had to choose a side here I’d say Seattle, but this is one of those in-between games that I’ll be avoiding on my slip.
JAX @ HOU (+3)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
This is hilarious. A rookie quarterback is starting Week 1 being led by a rookie HC with absolutely no NFL experience … and they are field goal favorites on the road.
The rule of thumb in the NFL is that home field is good for 3 points. Favoring Jacksonville by 3 points on the road means Vegas feels that a rookie Trevor Lawrence and newbie Urban Meyer are 6 points better than Houston on a neutral field.
Rookie debuts for quarterbacks are unpredictable. Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and RGIII each looked spectacular in their debuts while Matt Stafford, Jameis Winston, and Joe Burrow failed to get a lot going.
It’s looking more and more like Deshaun Watson will not be partaking in the Week 1 festivities. With each team coming into 2021 with different quarterbacks, looking back at past matchups between the Texans and Jags is inconclusive and unnecessary.
Houston has performed quite well in recent Week 1 games but that was with their franchise quarterback under center and the team free from the low-hanging cloud of controversy that has plagued them since the second half of last season.
My Pick: Take the Texans (+3). If you can get them (+3.5), even better. I’m not betting on a rookie QB/HC combo in Week 1 … I don’t care who they’re playing.
PHI @ ATL (-3)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
Here’s a couple of teams that no one cares about. Show me one football fan outside of Atlanta or Philly who can honestly say that they are most looking forward to the upcoming Eagles-Falcons matchup on Sunday.
I personally know a diehard Eagles fan and I can guarantee you that the last thing on his mind is football right now.
The Eagles somehow finished in last place in the NFC East last year – which is extremely difficult to do. You can’t doubt Philly’s resilience. They waded their way through 3 other losing teams en route to a 4-win season and a last place finish in a laughably terrible division.
The naysayers said Philly was going to turn it around and make the playoffs. The Eagles shut them up real quick!
Hosting the Eagles on Sunday is a team we affectionately refer to as ” the Eagles of the South” – the Atlanta Falcons.
In a city still reeling from a 25-point blown lead 4 years ago, the Falcons decided that one-dimensional human being Dan Quinn was not the answer and are trying out a real head coach this year.
Former Titans’ OC Arthur Smith is now in charge. Smith leveraged beast-man Derrick Henry into the league’s 2nd-best yardage offense and 4th-best scoring offense last year in Nashville.
Leaving Henry behind, Arthur Smith moves to Atlanta and will now look to utilize his new weapons which are *don’t forget to look up who Atlanta’s good players are and write them here*.
I’m obviously super stoked for this heavyweight matchup. Not betting on this one.
LAC @ WAS (+1)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
This is cute. 2 fashion labels who have both undergone complete rebrands are now going to dress up and play football with each other.
The Re*****s players were so excited when their new jerseys came in. The Instagram pics were incredible and their WAGs thought their men looked so handsome in those crisp home burgundy uniforms with matte burgundy helmets and burgundy palms of the gloves and burgundy cleats and burgundy pants and burgundy socks and burgundy sideline hats and burgundy winter coats for when it gets cold.
Out in Los Angeles, the Chargers have installed a new system for stopping people from accidentally calling the team “San Diego”. Anytime a player or coach slips up, they must cut off 1 inch of their hair and spend 20 minutes in a reverse tanning bed.
Reports from Bolts camp indicate that quarterback Justin Herbert is a frequent violator of this rule.
I don’t even know why Vegas would set a line for this exhibition half-fashion show half-football game, but they did. The Chargers are 1-point faves.
This has to be because more people like blue than burgundy. I do like blue, but I won’t be betting on this one.
PIT @ BUF (-6.5)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
Finally, a cool game to talk about. The Bills and Steelers each won their divisions in 2020 and finished as the AFC’s 2 and 3 seeds respectively.
The balance of power has shifted in the AFC. 3 years ago, talk of a Bills-Steelers Week 1 matchup would warrant the response, “ooh, those poor Bills”. Now it’s the opposite.
Buffalo and Pittsburgh are on opposite trajectories. While Pittsburgh did finish 12-4 last year, they limped to the finish.
Pittsburgh began 2020 with 11 straight victories before dropping 4 of 5 down the stretch. This forced the Steelers to face their inter division rival Cleveland during Wild Card weekend where the Browns gave them the business.
The Steelers have an aging roster, led by a washed up coach who still has his job because Santonio Holmes caught an ill-advised pass in triple coverage 12 years ago.
On the flipside are the up-and-coming Bills who have unseated the Patriots as the class of the AFC East. If not for those pesky Chiefs, Buffalo would likely be the AFC Conference Championship faves this year.
The Bills scored the 2nd-most points in all of football last year (behind only Green Bay). Combine this with a defense which ranked in the top half of the league in both yards and points allowed and you have a terrific football team.
The Steelers have a very good defense and not much else. Last year, Buffalo came into Pittsburgh and out-defenced them winning 17-10.
The last time Pittsburgh was held to 10 points at home was in Week 5 of 2017 when Jacksonville whooped ’em 30-9.
Listen, Tomlin used to be effective and Big Ben used to be a star. What we have here is a matchup between the 2nd-best team in the AFC and a team who has more fans than they deserve.
What do 2nd-best teams do to spoiled brat fanbases? Beat them by 6 and a half points.
My Pick: This is the one degenerates have been waiting for. If you don’t care about money, grab the BUF and TB moneylines in a 2-team parlay. If you like money, never do parlays and just take BUF (-6.5).
SF @ DET (+7.5)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
MCDC. Motor City Dan Campbell has arrived on scene in Michigan and has changed the culture. Wait, “changed” is too tame a word for MCDC. He has pulverized the culture! Yeah, there we go! He obliterated it! Doesn’t matter if it makes sense … that’s what he did, OK!
With the culture now vaporized, MCDC is finally ready to start teaching his team some football. I hear the Lions are holding their first OTA Sunday morning at 10. The plan is for the players to meet fully dressed in uniform, to cover as much material as they can, and then run out of the tunnel at 12:55 to meet the Niners.
Reports are that new Lions quarterback Jared Goff has already informed Coach Campbell that he won’t be able to make that meeting. Campbell said it’s fine, but that Goff should really try extra hard to make it on time for the game … please?
Everyone who watches the NFL knows that culture is the only thing that matters. What good is a legendary talent at quarterback if you don’t have culture? An unstoppable scheme is rendered useless without good locker room rapport.
MCDC will do just fine in Detroit because he has focused 100% of his time and energy on one thing and one thing only – culture.
Think about the great teams in history – ’72 Dolphins, ’07 Patriots, ’85 Bears. What did these teams have in common? Culture … and culture alone.
People don’t shut up about the awesome culture in Washington in ’82 or Pittsburgh’s amazing team chemistry in ’78.
The other 31 coaches have it all wrong. Culture is the only thing that matters in professional football.
Because every single report that comes out of Detroit references the changing culture and literally nothing else, I am led to believe that Detroit will annihilate their poor Week 1 opponent by 50 or 60 points.
My Pick: Detroit (+7.5).
Reasons for my pick:
MIN @ CIN (+3)
9/12 1:00 PM ET
Purple and orange? Gross. Fumble pile-ups are going to look like a radioactive Uncrustable sandwich.
I’m excited to watch Joe Burrow in this one. We saw flashes of greatness early last season before he was cut down.
I don’t know if anyone is ever really “excited” to watch Kirk Cousins but I’m definitely the Kirk Cousins-equivalent to excited about watching him on Sunday.
Last season the Bengals couldn’t stop the pass – ranking in the bottom-10 in the league in both passing defense and passing TDs allowed.
Expect lots of points to be scored in this one. The Vikings will come out throwing the football and Cincinnati has a high chance of falling behind early.
This will force the Bengals to air it out, too. I foresee a wild, sloppy game happening in which Cincinnati eeks it out at home.
My pick: CIN (+3).
Bonus prop: Bet the over on interceptions thrown if your book offers it.