If you’re like the rest of the PlayUSA staff, you eat, sleep, and breathe football this time of year. Hours are consumed by daily fantasy sports, NFL betting, and hunting the internet for sports betting lines.
Just in time for Week 1 of the NFL betting season, our team will break down five notable games you should keep an eye on leading up to Sept. 9. Additionally, we have some excellent futures bets to examine for those die-hard Chicago Bears fans.
You can also head over to PlayPicks for a buffet-style spread of totals, point spreads, and moneyline bets from several online sportsbooks for all of Week 1.
Here are odds across the country, you can pick which state you want to see odds and sportsbooks from:
*The following odds reflect Illinois sportsbooks.
#5 Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 9/9, 7:20 pm CT
- Spread: Bucs -7
- Money Line: Cowboys +270
- O/U: 51
What better way to kick off the 2021 season with the reigning Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers against America’s Team — the Dallas Cowboys.
Tampa Bay is the first team in history to re-sign every starting player following a Super Bowl win. However, the Cowboys are coming off a depressing 2020 campaign that saw the team finish 6-10. Everyone will be watching to see how Dak Prescott’s surgically repaired ankle holds up and if the Cowboy’s offense can live up to their potential.
Tom Brady has a 5-0 career record against Dallas, throwing 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Everyone knows the Bucs are good, but can they be as dangerous as the 2020 team? Only time will tell.
Sportsbooks opened with the Bucs -7 and have kept it there.
#4 New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers – 9/12, 12 pm CT
- Spread: Panthers -5
- Money Line: Jets +190
- O/U: 43
This top five list couldn’t be created without a revenge game. The Jets travel down to Charolette to face off against their former 1st round draft pick, quarterback Sam Darnold. The Panthers have some talent on both sides of the ball, including star running back Christian McCaffrey.
The new-look Jets will feature a new head coach, new names at wide receiver and running back, and No. 2 overall pick quarterback Zach Wilson.
The Panthers opened at -5 with the line holding strong.
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans – 9/12, 12 pm CT
- Spread: Jags -3
- Money Line: Texans +140
- O/U: 45.5
The first overall pick in the draft, Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, will make his professional debut for the Jaguars. Sportsbooks opened with the Jags -2 but have now added a full point shifting line to Jags -3.
A rookie QB couldn’t ask for a better team to face in his first game. Despite all the controversy currently surrounding the future of Texans QB-Deshaun Watson, Houston finished last year with a 4-12 record, only three games better than Jacksonville.
The significant part of this game is obviously Lawrence. Can he be the savior Jacksonville has been looking for? Betting lines show, at least for Week 1, he can be.
#2 Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams – 9/12, 7:20 pm CT
- Spread: Rams -7
- Money Line: Bears +290
- O/U: 45
Although Matthew Stafford is the new man behind center for the LA Rams, he’s a familiar face to the Bears Defense. The Rams opened at -6 and remain favorites, with the line shifting to -7.
Stafford holds a career 11-9 record against the Bears; however, in the last five years, he has gone 4-6 against the Monsters of The Midway.
This game will come down to the Rams high octane offense, which will be without star running back Cam Akers, against the Bears veteran defense anchored by All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
#1 Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Raiders – 9/13, 8:15 pm ET
- Spread: Bal -4.5
- Money Line: Raiders +200
- O/U: 51
The spread on this game opened with Baltimore at -4.5 and remains there. The only way this line moves is if a key player gets injury leading up to Monday night.
The revamped offensive line for Las Vegas will make or break this team in Week 1. If the front five can open holes for Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs, expect the Raiders to control the clock. With that said, Lamar Jackson has the ability to give the Ravens a 3TD lead at almost any point during the game.
Chicago Bears futures
Now let’s talk about some NFL futures bets for the Chicago Bears!
Of course, a Super Bowl win would be phenomenal for Chicago, but what fans are hoping to see is a spark at the quarterback position. It’s been a very long time since someone electric has stepped under center for the Bears.
Enter Justin Fields.
Offensive rookie of the year
Fields currently sits at +550 to win rookie of the year. When asked, Bear’s HC Matt Nagy says veteran Andy Dalton is the team’s starter. But it’s only a matter of time before Fields takes over. If the team begins the season 0-3, there is a chance the rookie could start Oct. 3 against the Lions.
Last year’s winner, Justin Herbert, finished with the most passing TD’s by a rookie QB (31) and most total TD’s by a rookie QB in a season (36). Fields is definitely capable of replicating those numbers.
Defensive player of the year
Last year’s award should have gone to NFL sack leader TJ Watt (15) but instead went to All-Pro DT Aaron Donald.
Statistically, Chicago’s Khalil Mack had a disappointing 2020 season. In 16 games, Mack had 9 sacks, 29 tackles, and 3 forced fumbles. Despite the down year, Mack was still selected to the Pro Bowl and was a first-team selection.
Although Mack’s odds to win DPY are currently +2000, he is still a name to watch.
Our last futures bet hinges on, you guessed it, Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay is the current favorite to win the division at -165. The Vikings are +250 while the Lions sit at +2500.
Sportsbooks have Chicago at +550, which is not bad considering Andy Dalton is behind center. There are questions with the offensive line, but Chicago added former Super Bowl standout Damien Williams to pair with starting running back David Montgomery.
The Defense gets back star defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who sat out 2020 due to COVID-19 and added a few pieces through the draft. This is a winnable division for the Bears. Half decent play from Dalton or perhaps even a breakout season from Fields could make this a lock.