The Philadelphia Eagles will be without star linebacker Nigel Bradham when they begin the defense of their Super Bowl championship against the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Thursday as 2.5-point favorites on the Week 1 NFL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Bradham led the Eagles with 88 combined tackles last season and added seven tackles in the team’s 41-33 win over New England as 4.5-point underdogs in Super Bowl LIII, but was slapped with a one-game suspension stemming from a 2016 run-in with the law that will keep him out of action in Thursday night’s Falcons vs. Eagles matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
The 28-year-old will be far from alone in missing Week 1 action. Bradham will be joined on the sidelines by Eagles defensive back Deiondre’ Hall, as he serves a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, while quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery still are dealing with injuries. However, Philadelphia has posted straight-up wins in eight of nine home dates with Atlanta, which is coming off a 10-6 season but is a +115 underdog to reach the NFL playoffs for a franchise-record third straight season.
Elsewhere, a clash of NFC South rivals will be marked by a pair of notable absences as the New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 9.5-point chalk. In addition, Tom Brady will be without his preferred downfield target when the New England Patriots take on the Houston Texans as 6-point home favorites on the Week 1 odds.
Pegged as +180 favorites on the NFC South division odds, the Saints will be without running back Mark Ingram Jr. for the first four games of the regular season while he serves a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performing-enhancing substances.
Across the field, the Buccaneers will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick under center while starter Jameis Winston serves a three-game sentence stemming from his alleged assault of an Uber driver in 2016. Winston’s absence further diminishes expectations in Tampa Bay, which sits as a -150 bet to win UNDER 6.5 games in 2018.
A diminished Patriots receiving corps gets thinner with the loss of Julian Edelman to a four-game suspension. New England is just 2-2 SU in its past four season openers but has posted just one outright loss in 10 all-time meetings with the Texans, who have dropped seven straight on the road, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
As well, the Indianapolis Colts will be without suspended rusher Robert Turbin as they open the season as 3-point home chalk over Cincinnati. Conversely, the Bengals must find a replacement for veteran linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who opens the NFL season under suspension for a third straight year.