We’re running out of ways to say it, but football is back — and we couldn’t be happier.
The NFL certainly will look, feel and even sound different in 2020, but we won’t be taking anything for granted after losing sports for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The return of the NFL is huge business for a lot of people, too, and we’re not just talking about the league and its teams. The betting industry is hoping to get back massive losses, and given the continued legalization of sports betting in states across the country, that part of the game should be bigger than ever.
With that said, here’s our first weekly installment of favorites you might want to avoid betting on this week.
(Lines gathered via consensus data.)
(-3) Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers
Neither of these teams plays much defense, so you might want to lean toward getting points at home if it’s going to be a shootout (the total is set at 47.5, by the way). This opened as a pick in some sportsbooks, and Carolina was even favored — for a bit — at some shops. However, the Raiders obviously got plenty of love from the market, and we’re a little apprehensive of falling in line with that given Vegas is going to be dealing with what should be a feisty Panthers team ready to start the Matt Rhule/Teddy Bridgewater era on the right foot.
(-8.5) Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
The 2020 Jags do have a 2019 Dolphins vibe about them, and Miami did lose by 49 points in Week 1 a season ago. That, however, was against a Baltimore team that could run it up. But this is a divisional game, and Indy is on the road, no less. Let’s not forget: Philip Rivers had a 48.9 QBR last season with the Chargers. Yes, he has much better weapons as a Colt, but maybe it takes some time to get going. Not only that, but we also have reservations about Indy’s secondary, which mixed with Gardner Minshew’s gun-slinging ways could be the recipe for a backdoor cover.
Cleveland Browns at (-8) Baltimore Ravens
Again, another sizable line between two divisional rivals. Expectations are sky-high in Baltimore and for good reason, especially coming off a 14-2 season in 2019. One of those losses, however, came against the Browns. Cleveland should be better this season, replacing bumbling Freddie Kitchens with Kevin Stefanski, while also upgrading at both offensive tackles. The Ravens probably win this game, but laying the points feels like a tall task.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images