NFL Week 1 Cheat Sheet and Betting Analysis

NFL Sunday Football Frenzy
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+9.5, 51)

The Bills are beginning a new era with first-year head coach Doug Marrone and rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel underwent knee surgery on Aug. 18 but is ready to go for the season opener, pushing rookie free agent Jeff Tuel back to the bench.

Tom Brady lost most of his receiving corps with Aaron Hernandez in jail, Wes Welker in Denver and Brandon Lloyd off to free agency. The perennial Pro Bowler has a slew of rookies at wide receiver to go along with import Danny Amendola until Rob Gronkowski recovers from back and forearm surgeries.

LINE: Buffalo opened as a 6.5-point home underdog but has been bet up as high as +9.5.
Patriots (-6.0) + Bills (+6.0) – home field (-3.0) = Bills +9.0
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 60s, 29 percent chance of rain, winds NNE 7 mph

* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Patriots are 19-8-1 ATS in their last 28 meetings.
* Road team is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 42)

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken the Steelers to three Super Bowls - winning two - in his nine seasons, but he missed three games to injury in 2012 and starts the year with questions in the receiving corps and running game.

Titans counterpart Jake Locker sat out five games a year ago and has yet to prove he is the answer after being drafted No. 8 overall in 2008. Both teams have major questions on defense - the Steelers allowed nearly 100 points more last season than in 2011 and Tennessee was shredded for an NFL-worst 471 points.

LINE: Pittsburgh opened a 7.5-point favorite and has moved to -7. The total has dropped from 43.5 to 42.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Tennessee (+4.5) + Pittsburgh (-2.0) + home field (-3.0) = Steelers -9.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 70s, 27 percent chance of showers, winds NNW 5 mph

Over is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Pittsburgh.
Over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings.
Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3, 54)

The Saints have dominated the series in recent years, winning 11 of the past 14 meetings, but they missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2008. With head coach Sean Payton returning after being suspended last season for his role in the team's bounty scandal, New Orleans hopes to regain its supremacy over the division.

Granted, the Saints handed the Falcons their first loss last year, a 31-27 defeat in Week 10 in New Orleans, and it did little to slow Atlanta on its way to the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons returned the favor in Week 13 in Atlanta, picking off Drew Brees five times in a 23-13 win. Atlanta upgraded its offense by signing running back Steven Jackson and also coaxed tight end Tony Gonzalez back for one more season.

LINE: New Orleans opened as a 2-point favorite and moved to -3. The total has remained steady at 54.
Atlanta (-4.5) - New Orleans (-2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Saints -5

* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings in New Orleans.
* Falcons are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Underdog is 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets (+3.5, 39.5)

New York coach Rex Ryan looks to exploit a Buccaneers pass defense that allowed an NFL-worst 297.4 yards per game last year with rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who earned the starting nod after Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder during the fourth quarter of a preseason game .

Bucs RB Doug Martin looks for an encore after rushing for an impressive 1,454 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns during his rookie campaign. Greg Schiano's first year with Tampa Bay also saw Josh Freeman throw for a franchise-record 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns - although nine of his 17 interceptions came in the final three games.

LINE: New York opened as 1.5-point underdogs and moved to +3.5. Total opened at 41.5 and moved to 39.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Tampa Bay (+3.0) - New York (+6.0) + home field (-3.0) = Pick
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 70s, 15 percent chance of early showers, winds NNW 14 mph

* Buccaneers are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Buccaneers are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 road games.
* Under is 4-1 in Jets’ last five games overall.

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5, 41)

Sunday is the debut of two new head coaches, as Gus Bradley takes over in Jacksonville and Andy Reid guides the Chiefs after a long tenure in Philadelphia. It's the first meeting since 2010, when the Chiefs clobbered the Jaguars 42-20 in Kansas City, avenging a 24-21 loss in Jacksonville a year earlier.

Both did their best to address issues through the draft and free agency and have playoff hopes - however unrealistic they are. Among the key matchups will be Jacksonville's ability to establish the run and take some pressure off quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars' ability to slow down Jamaal Charles and force quarterback Alex Smith into third-and-long situations.

LINE: Jacksonville opened as a 1.5-point underdog and has moved to +4.5. The total climbed from 41 to 41.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Kansas City (+2.0) – Jacksonville (+7.5) + home field (-3.0) = Jaguars +2.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 80s, partly cloudy skies, winds East 8 mph

* Chiefs are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games in Week 1.
* Jaguars are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games in Week 1.
* Under is 4-0 in Jaguars’ last four home games.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (+3.5, 44.5)

The Seahawks won their final five regular-season games and even notched a playoff win behind quarterback Russell Wilson and now face high expectations. Carolina finished with a flurry last season with four consecutive wins and the pressure is on third-year quarterback Cam Newton to deliver the franchise’s first playoff spot since 2008.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera needs a winning season in his third year at the helm after going 13-19 over his first two seasons. Mike Shula is the Panthers’ new offensive coordinator after Rob Chudzinski left to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

LINE: Carolina opened as a 3.5-point underdog and moved to +4.5. Total opened at 45.5 and moved to 44.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Seattle (-8.0) + Carolina (+1.5) + home field (-3.0) = Panthers +6.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in the high 80s, partly cloudy skies, winds ENE 9 mph

* Seahawks are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Panthers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games.
* Over is 6-2 in each Panthers and Seahawks’ last eight games overall.

Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears (-3, 41.5)

With a brand new coach and a healthy Cutler on board, the Bears begin the slow climb back to playoff contention. Replacing Lovie Smith is offensive guru Marc Trestman, who is coming off a successful coaching stint with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton and the offense faded down the stretch in 2012 and was held to 198 total yards in a first-round playoff loss to the Houston Texans.. The Bengals have won five of their last six on the road against NFC teams and are 4-1 all-time at Chicago.

LINE: Chicago opened as a 3.5-point favorite and has moved to -3. The total opened at 43.5 and moved to 41.5.
Cincinnati (-1.0) – Chicago (-2.0) + home field (-3.0) = Bears -4
WEATHER: Temperatures in low 70s, partly cloudy skies, winds NE 13 mph

* Bengals are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in Week 1.
* Under is 7-2 in Bears last nine games in Week 1.
* Bears are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns (Pick, 41)

This game marks the debut of Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, who spent the last two years as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator. Chudzinski and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner could rely heavily on RB Trent Richardson with top WR Josh Gordon suspended for violating the league’s drug policy.

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw 12 touchdown passes as a rookie, though only three of those scoring aerials were to wide receivers. There will be no excuses for that this season, as the Dolphins signed former Steelers wideout Mike Wallace to generate big plays in the passing game.

LINE: Game opened pick and some books are dealing Cleveland -1.5. The total has moved from 41 to 40.5.
Miami (+1.5) – Cleveland (+4.0) + home field (-3.0) = Browns -0.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in the low 70s, 25 percent chance of thunderstorms, winds NNE 13 mph

* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Dolphins are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Browns are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games in Week 1.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-5, 46.5)

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has vowed to shatter the single-season rushing mark this season. Minnesota’s offense is still a major question mark. Christian Ponder, who has surpassed 300 yards only twice in 26 starts, may be on a short leash. Minnesota swept the season series a year ago, including a 20-13 victory in Detroit.

Detroit added Reggie Bush to bolster a backfield that's been non-productive for several seasons. Bush's dual-threat presence should take some of the onus off the oft-weary shoulders of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw just 20 touchdown passes last season after tossing a career-high 41 in 2011. Detroit enters the season riding an eight-game losing streak.

LINE: Detroit opened as a 3-point favorite and has moved to -5. The total has moved from 47 to 46.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Minnesota (+1.0) – Detroit (+1.0) + home field (-3.0) = Lions -3

* Vikings are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings.
* Underdog is 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings.

Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts (-10.5, 47)

The athletic but unproven Terrelle Pryor has reportedly won the Raiders QB competition with Matt Flynn and is poised to establish himself for a squad that ranked 26th in the NFL in scoring last year. Pryor threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 49 yards and a score in Week 17 last season in his only career start.

Colts QB Andrew Luck was 7-1 at home in 2012, winning the last six. Seven of the eight home contests were decided by a touchdown or less, giving Luck plenty of time to display his abilities in the clutch. Luck's favorite target again figures to be 13-year standout Reggie Wayne, who amassed 106 catches and 1,355 yards last season.

LINE: Indianapolis opened as a -8.5 favorite and moved to -10.5. The total moved from 49 to 47 points.
Oakland (+8.0) - Indianapolis (+1.0) + home field (-3.0) = Colts -10

* Colts are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games.
* Raiders are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games overall.
* Under is 11-2 in Colts last 13 home games.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
(-4.5, 48.5)

Green Bay fell 45-31 to San Francisco in the NFC divisional round but is in good shape heading into 2013 with QB Aaron Rodgers in his prime and a host of receiving weapons at his disposal. He'll be put to the test in Week 1 against a vaunted 49ers defense that finished second in the league in fewest points against.

The San Francisco offense belongs to quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Green Bay defense is ready to go after the nimble QB, who racked up 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay in their playoff showdown.

LINE: San Francisco opened -5 and has dropped to -4.5. The total has been adjusted from 50.5 to 48.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Green Bay (-6.5) – San Francisco (-8.0) + home field (-3.0) = 49ers -4.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in low 70s, clear skies, winds WSW 6 mph

* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Packers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven meetings in San Francisco.
* Packers are 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 meetings.

Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams (-4.5, 41.5)

Longtime Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher is back for his second season with the Rams while Bruce Arians takes the reins for the Cardinals. He will be charged with reviving a team that produced an NFC-low 250 points and lost 11 of its final 12 games after bolting out to a 4-0 start last season.

St. Louis, surprisingly, had the best record within its division and looks to continue its ascent behind a youthful squad that features electrifying rookie receiver Tavon Austin. Daryl Richardson gets first crack at replacing free-agent departure RB Steven Jackson in the backfield and will run behind a beefed-up line that added former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long.

St. Louis opened as a 5-point favorite and moved to -4.5. The total has moved from 41 to 41.5 points.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Arizona (+5.0) – St. Louis (+2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Rams -5.5

* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in St. Louis.
* Under is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.
* Rams are 7-0 ATS in their last seven vs. NFC West.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 48.5)

The New York Giants attempt to continue their dominance at Cowboys Stadium Sunday night. New York has won all four of its games in Dallas' new stadium since it opened in 2009, including a 29-24 triumph on Oct. 28. The Giants have captured six of the last eight overall meetings between the NFC East rivals.

New York hopes to have Victor Cruz in the lineup as the wide receiver suffered a bruised heel in the second week of the preseason and just returned to practice on Monday. Dallas looks to improve upon the 19th-ranked defense in the league in 2012. In an effort to accomplish this goal, the club replaced defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with Monte Kiffin and switched to a 4-3 alignment.

LINE: Dallas opened as a 3-point favorite and has moved to -3.5. The total has moved from 49 to 48.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: New York (-3.0) - Dallas (-1.5) + home field (-3.0) = Cowboys -4.5

* Giants are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings in Dallas.
* Giants are 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.

Green Bay fans aka Cheeseheads don't need any reasons to watch their beloved Packers take on the Cardinals for the first preseason game, but here are some compelling reasons to watch and bet on this matchup.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, at Lambeau Field; Packers won, 28-20
  • QB Aaron Rodgers connected on 9 of 12 passes for 97 yards and a TD (126.0
    passer rating).
  • WR Chastin West led Green Bay’s offense with 134 receiving yards on five
    catches (26.8 avg.), highlighted by a game-winning 97-yard TD grab from QB Matt
    Flynn early in the fourth quarter that gave the Packers a 21-20 lead.
  • Flynn completed 5 of 6 passes for 141 yards and a TD for a perfect 158.3
    passer rating.
1. David Bakhtiari.
In most preseason openers, Packers coach Mike McCarthy plays his starters only a few series. But look for new starting left tackle Bakhtiari to stay on the field even after the rest of the No. 1 offensive line retires for the night.

“He needs to learn to play the position at this level and speed and see the things he’s going to see in Week 1,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy tabbed the fourth-round pick from Colorado to start after Bryan Bulaga
sustained a season-ending knee injury, and so far the 21-year-old from the University
of Colorado has performed well.

“To his credit, he has picked things up really nicely and done a
good job for being book smart, but he transfers that onto the field,” Packers
offensive line coach James Campen said. “He’s the type of guy who’s
very cerebral and can go out there, see it in the meeting, take the information,
process it and put it on the field.”

2. The kickers.
Special teams coach Shawn Slocum could not have been put it any more
directly when asked about veteran kicker Mason Crosby’s on-going struggles.

“It’s time to make some field goals,” Slocum said this week.

Of course, he said the same thing last season when Crosby went through a horrible
stretch in which he missed 12-of-24 field goals on the way to an NFL-worst 63.6
percent conversion rate. Crosby had another woeful performance in last
Saturday’s scrimmage, when he made just 3-of-8 field goals. He bounced back with
a 3-for-4 performance in the lone field goal period during practice this week
but is just 15-of-23 so far in training camp.

The challenger, unproven first-year kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, can’t match Crosby’s leg
strength but has been far more accurate (19-of-23). Fundamentally, they are
completely different kickers. The right-footed Crosby use a two-step approach,
while the left-footed Tavecchio uses a three-step approach.

“I’ll tell you this, I’m going to withhold my judgment until we see these games start to
occur,” Slocum said. “That’s the biggest stage we can evaluate with right now,
and that’s where we’ll do that.”

3. Vince Young. If McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo had enough time,
they would probably make significant changes to Young’s footwork and throwing motion.
But with only three days of practice after Young signed a minimum contract with the Packers on
Monday, a complete overhaul is out of the question.

Instead, they have tried to give Young enough instruction to allow him to function. Though it
looked ugly at times in practice – he threw an interception during a half-speed,
jog-through period on Thursday – Young is expected to play against the Cardinals
because the Packers need to begin evaluating whether the 30-year-old former
first-round draft pick would be an upgrade over backups Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman.

“It’s definitely a challenge; it’s not easy,” McAdoo said. “It’s a lot easier to do it with a
veteran than a rookie coming in at this point. He has some background. He’s
played some football. He’s won some games in this league and has played well.
That’ll help.”

4. The return game. The Packers will continue to explore options so that they don’t have
to put Randall Cobb, one of their top receivers, at kick returner. With Cobb perhaps out
Friday night because of a biceps injury, it means Jeremy Ross should get the first crack at the
returns. Slocum has little doubt about Ross’ ability, but ball security
continues to be a concern. Ross had a 49-yard kickoff return in Saturday’s
scrimmage but muffed a punt in practice three days later.

The Packers have used several returners in practice, but many of them are unlikely to make
the roster. Ross is a good bet because of his improvement as a receiver. So is
rookie running back Johnathan Franklin, who has almost no experience
as a returner but has been working on it in practice.

5. Running backs. The unquestioned star of last Saturday’s scrimmage was rookie
Eddie Lacy, who had explosive runs of 16 and 20 yards.

It would be an upset if Lacy isn’t the Week 1 starter, especially considering Franklin is
off to a slow start and DuJuan Harris (knee) remains out. The only thing
that could hold back Lacy is an injury, and sure enough he had a hamstring
tighten up on him this week and might not play against the Cardinals.

  • The Green Bay Packers’ 2013 season officially kicks off Friday night when
    they welcome the Arizona Cardinals to Lambeau Field, the first time since 2010
    that Green Bay has opened its preseason slate at home.
  • It marks the third time in the past five years that the clubs have squared
    off in the preseason, with the last meeting between the teams coming in 2011 at
    Lambeau Field (Aug. 19).
  • The teams have met 22 times before in the preseason, with the Packers
    holding a 16-6 lead in the all-time series. The clubs’ first preseason meeting
    came on Aug. 16, 1950, when the Packers hosted the Chicago Cardinals in Green
    Bay. The teams went on to play each other every year in the preseason from
    1950-58 (twice in 1957).
  • The Packers have won each of the last six meetings between the clubs in the
    preseason. This marks the first time that Green Bay has opened the preseason
    against the Cardinals since the teams squared off in New Orleans on Aug. 8,
  • This will be the fourth preseason meeting between the clubs (2002, 2009,
    2011) since the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988.
  • The Packers hosted the Cardinals last season in Week 9, a 31-17 Green Bay
    victory highlighted by QB Aaron Rodgers
    four TD passes.
  • One of Green Bay’s finest offensive efforts in the preseason came in 2009 at
    Arizona when the Packers racked up 38 points and 357 yards of total offense in
    the first half of their eventual 44-37 victory.
  • The Packers enter Friday night’s contest having won six of their last eight
    preseason games at Lambeau Field.
  • Green Bay’s next preseason contest comes a week from Saturday when it
    travels to St. Louis to face the Rams on Aug. 17.

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