After a long spring and summer spent waiting for football to return, fans of the National Football League (NFL) can finally rejoice with the arrival of Week 1 this Sunday.
The early slate kicking off at 1 p.m. eastern time covers nine games, including several divisional rivalries which will serve to send an immediate message.
The Baltimore Ravens visit the Cincinnati Bengals, with both teams looking to rebound from sub-par 2016 campaigns in the AFC North. Questions continue to linger over the status of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, but head coach John Harbaugh has given his guarantee that the Super Bowl winning signal-caller will be under center at Cincinnati.
Predictably, this matchup of two evenly matched teams that are well-acquainted with one another is practically a wash, with the Bengals enjoying the standard (-3) afforded to home teams at the Bovada Sportsbook.
The Philadelphia Eagles visit the Washington Redskins in an NFC East tilt, and once again both teams have something to prove after failing to win nine games last year.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is back in the fold once again, but after declining to sign a long-term contract with the team, this could be his swan song in Washington. As for the Eagles, second-year quarterback Carson Wentz will be looking to avoid the “sophomore slump” after posting an impressive rookie season.
Despite playing at FedEx Field, the Redskins have been installed as slight (+1) underdogs against their age-old rivals.
When the late slate of three games begins, most impartial football fans will be watching the Seattle Seahawks squaring off against a fellow NFC powerhouse in the Green Bay Packers.
Since quarterback Russell Wilson’s rookie year in 2012, his Seahawks have faced the Packers five times – including their infamous win in 2012’s “Fail Mary” game. Seattle has gone 3-2 against Green Bay over that span – with a thrilling 28-22 overtime win in the 2015 playoffs added to the mix – but the Packers have won the last two contests by convincing margins.
This time around, the oddsmakers like the look of both squads, so Green Bay has been tagged with the basic (-3) handed to home favorites.
The most highly anticipated game on the Week 1 schedule waits until Monday Night Football, when the New York Giants head down to “JerryWorld” to face the Dallas Cowboys.
Over the last three seasons, these NFC East rivals have posted six extremely close final scores, including two games decided by a single point, and two more by just a field goal.
The status of Ezekiel Elliott remained undetermined as of Tuesday afternoon, as the Cowboys’ star running back appeals his six-game suspension, and many pigskin pundits predict he’ll be permitted to play Week 1 while the process plays out.
The Giants may be down a star on offense as well, with wideout Odell Beckham Jr. nursing an ankle injury suffered during the preseason. Beckham’s status remains in doubt pending this week’s practice period, but for the time being, Dallas holds the edge as slight (-3.5) favorites.
And the New England Patriots get their Super Bowl defense underway early, as the Brady/Belichick juggernaut hosts the Kansas City Chiefs in a potential AFC playoff preview.
The Pats will be playing without sparkplug wide receiver Julian Edelman, who tore his ACL in a preseason game to cut his 2017 run short. But given the acquisition of game-breaking receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints, the Patriots are well prepared to make up for Edelman’s absence.
The oddsmakers certainly think so, as New England holds the widest margin on the betting board as big-time (-9) home favorites.