The 2020 NFL schedule was released last night to much fan anticipation. As soon as the fervor subsided, sportsbooks took the opportunity to release lines for the first week of NFL action. There are still enormous amounts of questions surrounding these teams, especially considering the current landscape of the world we live in. Will some of the rookies added in the 2020 NFL Draft make immediate impacts? Will the veterans that changed cities have time to acclimate to their new teams? Even with all the uncertainty, the Pro Football Network betting crew decided to take a look at the Week 1 early betting lines for best bet analysis.
The lines that have been released will be completely different come kickoff in four months, so jumping on them early could not only provide value but could also create interesting middling opportunities. Senior gambling analyst Chris Smith pointed this out on Twitter late Thursday night.
— PFN Bets (@PFNBets) May 8, 2020
Keeping all that in mind, there is benefit in looking at some of these early betting lines. With little else to gamble on throughout the summer, why not invest your dormant units on early Week 1 action? With the help of the aforementioned Chris Smith, Against the Spread co-hosts George Templeton and Ryan Gosling, and our other betting crew members Drew Haynes and Ben Rolfe, we give early best bet leans.
Early Week 1 NFL betting lines and best bets
Even though the 2019 NFL season ended a few months ago, the PFN betting crew has continued to add units to their win count. After a successful year, the team added another 18.5 units during the NFL Draft. Now, with these lines being released, we add to the enormous amount of offseason bets that we already have. Make sure to check out the rest of our plays that have already been made.
NFL Week 1 lines (via @DKSportsbook):
KC -9.5 vs. HOU
NE -7.5 vs. MIA
BAL -7.5 vs. CLE
BUF -6.5 vs. NYJ
LV -1 @ CAR
SEA -1 @ ATL
PHI -5 @ WAS
DET -1 vs. CHI
IND -6.5 @ JAX
LAC -2.5 @ CIN
SF -8.5 vs. ARI
NO -4 vs. TB
DAL -2.5 @ LAR
MIN -3.5 vs. GB
PIT -3 @ NYG
DEN -1.5 vs. TEN
— Eli Hershkovich (@EliHershkovich) May 8, 2020
George Templeton: Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
A year ago, Gardner Minshew was a sixth-round draft pick fighting to make the team as a backup to the newly-signed Nick Foles. Now, Minshew goes into the season as the number one quarterback. He will have a full offseason under Doug Marrone and the offensive staff taking all the snaps as the starter. That can only help him.
On the other side, if Philip Rivers has anything left, he will have plenty of weaponry at his disposal to get the Colts offense rolling again. The Jags defense likely won’t have Yannick Ngakoue by Week 1 either. This will be a shootout the Colts win. Take the over 46.
Official play: Over 46 total points for 1 unit.
Christopher Smith: San Francisco 49ers (-8.5) vs Arizona Cardinals
Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here beating the Super Bowl hangover drum. While Kyle Shanahan and company should still be able to get into the postseason, especially with the additional Wild Card team this year, winning by double digits is a tough task. The 49ers open their 2020 season at home against one of the most improved rosters in the entire NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals added DeAndre Hopkins to an already improving offensive unit. The Cardinals were swept by San Francisco by a grand total of 15 points last season, including a fluky defensive touchdown on the final play of the game in their first meeting in Week 11.
The spread for this one can be found anywhere from -7 to -10.5, creating a solid “middle” opportunity, but I love the Cardinals at +8 points or more. Super Bowl runner-ups are an abysmal 4-16 against the spread in their opening game the following season over the last 20 years. I’ll take Arizona and the points.
Official play: Arizona Cardinals +8.5 for 1 unit.
Ben Rolfe: Seattle Seahawks (-1) at Atlanta Falcons
This game looks like a trap game start for the Seahawks. An East Coast road trip and a 10 am PST start to open the season is certainly not the way a West Coast team would choose to open any season.
However, two elements come into play here, beyond the fact the Seahawks were one of the best teams in the NFC in 2019 and the Falcons were largely a mess. Firstly, the opening week is great to get one of these trips out of the way. With no game the previous week, the team can choose when to travel and structure their plans around being as prepared as possible for this game.
The second element in play here is that the Seahawks have been profitable in the 1 pm window when playing on the East Coast. In the last five years, they are 7-1-2 ATS when playing under those scenarios. 2019 saw them go 3-1-1 with their one loss being by half a point in Atlanta, winning by 7 when favored by 7.5.
The only concern I have here is that the Seahawks have not covered the spread in any of their last five opening day fixtures, going 0-4-1 ATS in that time. However, give me the better-coached team in a master versus apprentice matchup in Atlanta.
Official play: Seattle Seahawks -1 for 1 unit.
Ryan Gosling: Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at the Los Angeles Rams
Of all the teams with question marks, the Cowboys could potentially have one of the most significant with a brand new head coach coming to town in Mike McCarthy. McCarthy comes in after taking time off after being let go by the Packers. PFN’s James Aguirre mentioned in a recent discussion that last season, 14 teams had a new head coach or offensive coordinator, only three of them had winning records.
While that may be worrisome, the Cowboys are still coming in with the same offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, and have added the best wide receiver from the 2020 NFL Draft in CeeDee Lamb. Even though this is in Los Angeles and will be the first game in the Rams’ new SoFi Stadium, the Cowboys and Dak Prescott will be coming to town looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2019 season.
Prescott continues to look for a long-term extension and will see his contract value increase with each victory. The Rams’ offseason has been less than spectacular, with the team moving on from big names like running back Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler. They are up against the cap, and will likely continue to offload talent.
If you can still get this under the key number of three, I recommend doing so now. I can see this one being a high scoring affair, with Dallas still having question marks in their secondary. If it is going to be an offensive matchup, I will take Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliot, and Lamb over Jared Goff, Darrell Henderson, Cooper Cupp, and Robert Woods.
Official play: Dallas Cowboys -2.5 for 1 unit.
Drew Haynes: Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at Washington Redskins
Laying points on the road in Week 1 is not ideal, but I will lay them here with the Eagles for a few reasons. I believe continuity is a huge factor in these early season games, especially in a year that may not feature offseason workouts and limited practice. While the Eagles retain Doug Pederson and company, the Redskins have a whole new staff under Ron Rivera.
I love the Rivera hire in the long-term, but I expect to see growing pains Week 1 between the offensive staff and young quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins has been criticized by former teammates and coaches for not being able or willing to grasp the playbook, and I do not expect him to suddenly click under a new staff with limited offseason workouts.
Conversely, Carson Wentz and his weapons are well-versed in Doug Pederson’s scheme. The only new pieces, Jalen Reagor and Marquise Goodwin are great fits in Pederson’s scheme and will use their elite speed to help build on an offense that was between 10-15 in most important offensive metrics this past season.
I do not expect the limited offseason to affect the Eagles, at least not as much as it will the Redskins. My worry with the Eagles in 2020 is injury concerns and depth, so this should not come into play Week 1. Give me the more experienced and talented team on both sides of the ball, especially with the Haskins concerns in a limited offseason.
Official play: Philadelphia Eagles -5 for 2.5 units.