Four months before the NFL’s season opener, the Week 1 lines are on the board at sportsbooks.
The defending Super Bowl champion Rams and 2023 Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills will kick off the league’s 272-game schedule Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. The Rams are 1-point favorites in a “Thursday Night Football” matchup that should generate a massive betting handle.
“They have months to bet it, it’s the first game, two Super Bowl contenders and it’s basically a pick’em, so it’s definitely possible that this could have the biggest handle of any game this season,” Caesars Sportsbook assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “I personally had the Rams a bit higher, but the Bills have a lot of respect in the market.”
Of the 16 Week 1 lines, there are 10 road favorites, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) over the Dallas Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football” and the Denver Broncos (-4) over the Seattle Seahawks on “Monday Night Football.”
“Usually with weeks like that, it can be kind of all or nothing for the books,” Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker Ed Salmons said. “The public is just going to bet teams that are perceived as better and will most likely be on a lot of those away favorites.”
The SuperBook staff compiled the Week 1 lines through a group text and were within a point of each other on every game but one.
“The only hard one, where we had a big-time variance, was the Broncos-Seahawks game, because both teams have changed so much,” Salmons said. “That game had anywhere from three to as high as seven.”
Salmons said he made the line three in Denver quarterback Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle. The Broncos are -4 at the SuperBook and Station Casinos.
“Seattle won’t be the team they were but they’ll still be a scrappy team with a decent defense and a good run game. I think they’ll at least compete,” he said. “Laying 3½ or 4 on the road is not an easy thing in the NFL. We may see some wiseguy action on Seattle. That’s the kind of game they would bet.”
Denver is -3½ at Caesars.
”The Broncos look like a Super Bowl contender with Wilson, and Seattle now has Drew Lock or Geno Smith under center,” Pullen said. “But Seattle has one of the strongest home fields and you know the team will be jacked up with Wilson coming back.
”It’s still highly likely we’ll need the Seahawks for quite a bit of money in this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if it closes higher.”
Tampa Bay opened -3 over Dallas at Caesars, where a bettor placed a $5,500 wager to win $5,000 on the Cowboys +3. The spread is now 2½ at Caesars and 2 at the SuperBook.
“Tampa-Dallas will get a humongous number on Sunday night,” Salmons said. “That’s a game that has a good chance to run up towards three.”
The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-point road favorites over the Arizona Cardinals in a game with the highest total on the board at 54.
“It remains to be seen how the loss of Tyreek Hill will impact the Chiefs offense,” Pullen said. “I think the Chiefs will find some ways to spread it around. They’ll get a lot of people involved. I think they’ll be just fine as long as they have Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball.”
The Raiders are 4-point road underdogs to the LA Chargers.
“Most people consider the Chargers a notch better than the Raiders,” Salmons said.
Other early line moves at Caesars saw the Green Bay Packers climb from pick’em to -1½ over the Minnesota Vikings; the New Orleans Saints go from -3 to -3½ over the Atlanta Falcons; and the Cincinnati Bengals inch up from -5½ to -6 over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at [email protected] Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.