The NFL season opened with a Thursday night thriller, and thanks to a shanked game-winning field goal attempt by Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano the defending champion Denver Broncos came away with a 21-20 comeback victory behind quarterback Trevor Siemian.
After an action-packed opener that left bettors on both sides sweating every last second, Sunday’s slate of games promises to deliver the same sort of excitement.
Three more games featuring young quarterbacks are on tap. Dak Prescott took over for Tony Romo in the preseason, and he’ll lead the Dallas Cowboys (+1) in a home game against divisional foe the New York Giants.
Carson Wentz also makes his first NFL start at home, with his Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) favored over Robert Griffin III and the Cleveland Browns.
And for Jimmy Garoppolo, the task of taking the helm for Tom Brady during the legend’s four-game suspension is made much more difficult. The New England Patriots (+6.5) must travel to Glendale to take on the Arizona Cardinals.
Among the nine early games on the schedule, the closest contest according to Bovada’s most current lines pits the New Orleans Saints (-1) against the Oakland Raiders. Both teams are coming off 7-9 runs in 2015, but that record meant disappointment for Drew Brees and the Saints, while his quarterback counterpart Derek Carr actually led the Raiders to a four-game improvement.
With the game being played in the Superdome – where Sean Payton’s crew historically excels – an even matchup would typically be tabbed at (-3), but the 1-point spread in favor of the home team essentially equates to a tossup.
On the other end of the spectrum, the widest early game spread posted by Bovada gives the Kansas City Chiefs (-7) a full touchdown edge over the San Diego Chargers. Divisional games are usually tighter, but after a ragged 4-12 year and amid continuing uncertainty about the team’s future in San Diego, bookmakers are decidedly down on the Chargers.
The game will also be played at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs traditionally enjoy one of the best home field advantages in the league. Kansas City went 6-2 there last year, while San Diego struggled to a 1-7 road record, which helps explain the heavy lean towards the Chiefs here.
Upset minded bettors will be looking closely at the Miami Dolphins (+10), taking on the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in a late-afternoon affair. While the Seahawks certainly possess an edge at the skill positions and deserve to be favored at home, any double-digit spread in the NFL offers an inviting prospect for those looking to fade the chalk.
Miami’s defensive front – featuring sack masters Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and Mario Williams – will be looking to feast, especially following the ankle injury suffered by offensive lineman Germain Ifedi, Seattle’s first-round draft pick, only days ago. Ifedi was expected to protect quarterback Russell Wilson’s blind side, but if he misses the game (as is expected), the Dolphins’ defense may be able to keep the score close enough for a cover.