An Early Look at NFL Week 1 Lines

The NFL’s 2024 schedule was released back in May (with some early leaks), and, of course, sportsbooks here in Las Vegas and everywhere else rushed out their Week 1 openers.

A lot of people think it’s way too early to be betting games that aren’t played until the fall, fearing the unknown of injuries and suspensions. But through all my years of posting my early “takes” on NFL Week 1 at Daily Racing Form, and now VSiN, I’ve seen more and more bettors agreeing with me that you can find value now that can be gone if you wait. You might have seen other stories like this, but a lot of them take the wrong approach, in my humble opinion.


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While the obvious goal is to pick the winner of the games you’re looking to bet, I maintain that the main consideration is whether the line is expected to move by opening weekend and to be on the right side of that move (otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to tie up your money for nearly four months, right?). You need to approach these not as much as a handicapper but as an investor. It’s a great feeling to have a ticket in your possession when a line has moved several points (or across the key numbers of 3 or 7), and you can decide if you’re going to let it ride because you have the best of it, or shoot for a middle.

Lines Not Worth Betting Now

As much as it’s tempting to bet a lot of these season openers (especially as we’re all excited to see the light of the NFL season at the end of the proverbial tunnel), we really feel we have to pass on the majority of games because we feel the lines will be the same during opening week in September.

The season kicks off with the traditional Thursday night opener on Sept. 5 with the defending Super Bowl champion, the Chiefs in this case, hosting the Ravens. This line opened Chiefs -2.5 here in Las Vegas. DraftKings also opened Chiefs -3 in the states where they operate. The only way I would recommend betting this now would be if you wanted to take a shot at hitting a “side” where you would bet the Chiefs -2.5 and take the Ravens +3 and hope the Chiefs win by exactly 3 points and you cash the -2.5 and push the +3 for a 1-unit profit with minimal risk (the .1-unit vig on the losing wager). I’m not doing it as the chances of it hitting aren’t worth it for me to tie up another two units until after Labor Day, but I wouldn’t talk anyone out of it.

We also get a Friday night game on Sept. 6 with the Packers and Eagles playing in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the NFL’s first game ever in South America. The Eagles opened between 1- and 1.5-point neutral-site favorites, but again I think it’s best to pass as I don’t see this line getting steamed to 3, which would be the only reason to bet it now. Similarly, I don’t see any value on the Packers +1.5 as it seems unlikely they’d be bet to favoritism.

Perusing the Sunday games on the Week 1 schedule, most also look unplayable at this time.

Jaguars at Dolphins (-3.5): I can pretty much tell you that if this line is at 3.5 in September, I’ll be on the Jaguars plus the points. However, there’s no edge to betting it now as I expect the line to stay solid the rest of the spring and summer barring a major injury. There have been a few books that opened Dolphins -3 with some added juice (-115 at Circa, Wynn at -120), and that would have been the only way to play it now.

Steelers at Falcons (-2.5/-3): Similar to the Ravens-Chiefs, you could bet this if you feel the line you want will disappear, but I don’t see an edge to either side with the Steelers expected to start the season with Russell Wilson and the Falcons with Kirk Cousins.

Vikings at Giants (-1): This line will certainly stay under a field goal one way or the other, so might as well hold our money and invest elsewhere.

Panthers at Saints (-5): This is a dead number as it’s not likely to steam to Saints -7 (so no reason to bet now), and who wants the Panthers at +5 now as they’re certainly not going to be bet down to +3 or even +4?

Patriots at Bengals (-9): This line has varied from -8.5 to -9.5 here in Vegas, but that should remain the case as we can’t imagine it going to double digits, though that’s probably more likely than dropping to 7 now that Bill Belichick is gone from New England.

Cardinals at Bills (-7): A lot of people are down on the Bills (with Stefon Diggs leaving a depleted WR room), but I still can’t see this line dropped below a TD, even with everyone seeming to agree that rookie WR Marvin Harrison Jr. should be a star for the Cardinals. The Bills are still the much better overall team (and if we like the dog, we should still get at least 7 points come opening week).

Commanders at Buccaneers (-4): A lot of people are high on Jayden Daniels as Washington’s franchise QB, but I’m not sold yet, and certainly not looking to back him in his career debut. And wouldn’t lay the points now with the Bucs either.

Raiders at Chargers (-3.5): This would have been a spot to grab Chargers -3 if you could find it (and I would recommend you still do if your book offers it, as I will) for Jim Harbaugh’s return to the NFL, but at 3.5 this is a pass for me as I wouldn’t recommend laying the hook at -3.5 with the Chargers and we can probably get more points with the underdog in September. 

Broncos at Seahawks (-5.5): This is the one that got away. The Westgate opened this at Seahawks -6.5 and the Wynn opened -6, so I missed grabbing the points with the dog as I don’t see that much difference between these two middle-of-the-pack teams. At the dead numbers of 5 or 5.5, I have to pass for now, though I will grab a +6 if another book goes there over the summer.

Cowboys (-2) at Browns: The Cowboys are just one of two road favorites in Week 1, and we’re not sure it’ll stay that way with their road struggles and the Browns’ strong defense. But I wouldn’t take just 1 or 2 points with Cleveland either as this should be under a field goal either way.

NFL Week 1 Bets to Make Now

Titans (+4.5) at Bears: As a lifelong Bears fan after growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I am excited to see if Caleb Williams is the franchise QB the team has long needed (as well as a promising WR corps with DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and rookie Rome Odunze), but he’s still a rookie with a subpar overall roster and think this is too many points to give a comparable team in the Titans. If it goes to 5, I won’t worry about betting it too early.

Texans (-1.5) at Colts: I’m all-in on the Texans this season (see my Super Bowl LIX futures “takes” column that we posted here at VSiN right after the last SB, and we have been watching the bandwagon fill up as they’re down to 20-1 at Circa and 16-1 at the Westgate here in Vegas. I expect this line to steam toward a field goal during the off-season, even though the Colts are expected to get Anthony Richardson back. Even if we don’t get the value we’re seeking, we just need the Texans to start the season with a win and will be OK even betting a rare favorite.

Rams (+4) at Lions:
The Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff grudge match against their former teams ended up with a 24-23 win by the Lions/Goff over the Rams/Stafford in an NFC wild-card game. More people are on the Detroit bandwagon, but we still see these teams pretty equal (as that score indicates) and getting more than a FG looks like value, plus a lot of books are at 3.5, so the +4 might disappear.

Jets (+6) at 49ers: The Monday Night Football opener gives us the return of Aaron Rodgers after he tore his Achilles just four plays into his first game with the Jets. Assuming he’s 100 percent, I certainly expect money to come in the underdog here even though the 49ers are a public team, so I say to grab the +6 now as I’ll predict this will close at 49ers -4.5, but we believe we’ll still feel good about this bet if the line stays around 6.