After a seven-month break following the Philadelphia Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in the Superbowl last February, the 32 NFL teams are all back in action on the opening day of the season this coming weekend and it promises to be an exciting and unpredictable season once again.
There are a total of 16 matches being played across the United States this week, starting in the early hours of Friday morning UK time, as the Superbowl holders Philadelphia Eagles, take on the Atlanta Falcons at Liberty Financial Field. The action then progresses through Sunday, Monday night and Tuesday evening finishing with the final game of the week as the Los Angeles Rams travel north to take on the Oakland Raiders.
To celebrate the start of a new NFL season, we have gone through the 16 games below and given you our top tips for each of the games. As always, we’d recommend you place these bets with bet365 Sport. You can sign up with the latest bet365 Sports New Player Bonus by following the link.
All odds shown are courtesy of bet365 Sport and were correct as of 12.45pm on Wednesday 5th September 2018.
Please remember, rather than the standard ‘home team first’ structure for fixtures, in the NFL fixtures are usually stated with the away team first and the @ symbol used to designate where and whom they are playing.
NFL Opening Weekend Fixtures and Tips
- Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles
This is a rematch of a playoff game earlier this year which the Eagles narrowly won 15-10. Both sides have enjoyed decent off-season and the additions both have made to the squad should make them competitive in their respective divisions once again this season.
However, my gut feeling here is that the Eagles defense will be the key and if they can keep Matt Ryan quiet, as they did in the playoffs, then I can see the Eagles offense having a bit more joy against a Falcons defense that I feel won’t quite be as strong as last season. A -2.5 handicap for the Eagles with bet365 on the Spread option looks a good value bet to me here.
Our Top Tip – Philadelphia to win –2.5 (10/11 with bet365)
- Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens
The bookies have the Ravens as the clear favourites here, but I am not quite ready to jump on the Baltimore bandwagon just yet. Sure, they have had a decent offseason, but that doesn’t always translate into a solid start in the NFL. I think the Bills are very underrated here and I think the 5/2 on them to win the game is a very decent shout indeed.
Our Top Tip – Bills to win (5/2 with bet365)
- Cincinnatti Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts
Neither of these two teams have had great season’s the past few years, but both should be hopeful of better things this time around. After missing all of last season, the Colts have their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck back while the Bengals have made some clever moves in the offseason to improve their squad both on offense and defense. This will be a close game and it is a game where I think the defences will likely dominate.
Our Top Tip – Bengals v Colts – Under 48.5 points (10/11 with bet365)
- Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
I have a sneaky feeling that this Week One clash may well be a preview of the AFC Championship game later in the season. Both the Texans and Patriots are amongst the real powerhouses in the AFC and I expect both to make the playoffs comfortably. The bookies really like the Patriots and it is not hard to see why given their brilliance over the past few years, but the Texans should have beaten them last year and I think this time around, they may well surprise everyone and get the job done.
Our Top Tip – Texans to win (11/5 wit bet365)
- Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants
Last season this would have been a shoe-in win for the Jaguars given their performances and the Giants struggles, but after a very solid off season and some key signings, the Giants look a much better outfit. I think their offense will still struggle against the Jaguars defence, but similarly I think the Jags offense will find the Giants defense a tough nut to crack. Thi swill be close and I am expecting the Jags to win it, but I think the Under 43.5 points option is the best bet here.
Our Top Tip – Jaguars v Giants – Under 43.5 pts (10/11 with bet365)
- Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
The Steelers are one of the top AFC teams and should dominate the AFC North this year but the Browns are significantly improved in terms of personnel from last season, but they now need to take that improvement out onto the field. It’s a tough start for the Browns and I do feel the steelers will win the game, but I also feel that this won’t be quite so easy as the bookmakers are making out.
Our Top Tip – Steelers v Browns – Under 45.5 pts (10/11 with bet365)
- San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings made the playoffs last year and the 49ers are still coming back from a dismal few years of underachievement. They have certainly improved on last season with some solid signings during the off season but the Vikings have done likewise and for me they are the clear winner of this opening day fixture.
Our Top Tip – 49ers v Vikings – Over 46 points – (10/11 at bet365)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston’s absence through suspension will be a big blow to the Buccaneers here as I feel with him, they are a decent side in this division. The Saints should win this game against the Bucs without their leader especially if Drew Brees can find form, although his receiving corps isn’t as strong as it has been in previous seasons.
Our Top Tip – Buccaneers v Saints – Under 49.5 pts – (10/11 at bet365)
- Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
Neither of these teams have impressed a great deal in pre-season and for the Titans that is a big disappointment as they seek to build on last year’s place in the playoffs. The Dolphins have a decent record over the Titans and while they are no great shakes themselves, I fancy them to use home field advantage to get the job done, but don’t expect too many points to be scored by two stuttering offenses.
Our Top Tip – Titans v Dolphons – Under 45 points (10/11 at bet365)
- Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers
Of all the games this weekend, I think this could be the most evenly contested. The Chiefs and Chargers are similar in many ways and play in the same conference, so it is an important game for both teams. The Chargers have home field advantage and the Chiefs may be a little less imposing than last season, hence I am backing the Chargers to win here.
Our Top Tip – Chargers to win (4/7 at bet365)
- Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers
At the start of a season I always feel some NFL teams are overrated, some underrated and this is a clash between two of those teams. For me, the Cowboys are nothing special, even with Dak Prescott at quarterback and the retirement of tight end Jason Witten robs Prescott of a massive influence. The Panthers I think are somewhat undervalued and I can see them pushing hard in the NFC South and I can see them getting off to a good start here,
Our Top Tip – Panthers to win (20/29 at bet365)
- Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos
Both these teams are still in transition from winning the Superbowl in recent years and of the two I think the Broncos are in slightly the better shape, certainly on defense. The Seahawks offense is the more potent of the two, but I think the Bronco’s can keep them quite and score enough points against what will be a rebuilt Seattle defense to grab the win here.
Our Top Tip – Broncos to win (4/6 with bet365)
- Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals
As the odds suggest, these two teams are very well matched and this is a game that could well go either way and be decided in the last few seconds. I do feel however that both sides are better on defense rather than offense which suggests a game of fewer than the usual number of points.
Our Top Tip – Redskins v Cardinals – Under 44 points – (10/11 at bet365)
- Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
The Bears defense improve significantly when signing Khalil Mack from the Raiders recently, but even so they take on the Packers, who snapped up Aaron Rodgers to a massive contract to keep him at Green Bay for likely the remainder of his career. The Packers are nothing special without Rodgers, with him they are playoff contenders at the least and they’ll get the win here.
Our Top Tip – Packers to win -7/5 pts – (10/11 at bet365)
- New York Jets @ Detroit Lions
Neither of these teams fill me with any great optimism that they’ll be amongst the title challengers come the end of the season. The Jets are still somewhat a team in development, while the Lions, well they are the perennial underachievers in the NFL, even with the talented Matt Stafford at quarterback. The Lions will win this one but I can’t see this being too memorable a game.
Our Top Tip – Jets v Lions – Under 45 pts (10/11 with bet365)
- Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland Raiders
The final game of the night pits the team I think will win the Superbowl this year, the Rams against the Raiders in a west coast clash. The Raiders are strong defensively but will miss Khalil Mack, who was traded to the Bears this past week. That to me hands a big advantage to a Rams team that really don’t need too much help, given the quality of players they possess.
Our Top Tip – LA Rams to win -4 pts – (10/11 with bet365)