Packers (-6 ½, 49) at Bears – 1:00 PM EST
The two oldest rivals in the NFL meet up at Soldier Field as Green Bay looks to duplicate last season’s success against Chicago. The Packers outscored the Bears, 93-31 in two blowouts, including a 38-17 rout in Chicago last September. Green Bay split four preseason games, while losing top wide receiver Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL in an exhibition loss at Pittsburgh. Since 2012, the Packers own a 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS record as a road favorite of six points or more, which includes an ATS loss in a three-point win at Minnesota last season.
The Bears won three of four preseason contests, as John Fox debuts as head coach following four seasons with the Broncos. Chicago looks to rebound from a 5-11 season, while covering only once in four tries as a home underdog, coming as a 10-point ‘dog to Detroit in a 20-14 loss in Week 16. Jay Cutler has struggled against this Green Bay defense, losing eight straight starts against the Packers since 2010, with the last win by the Bears’ quarterback versus the defending NFC North champions in Week 3 of that season as a home underdog.
Colts (-2 ½, 45) at Bills – 1:00 PM EST
There are big expectations placed on Indianapolis this season, who are predicted by many to break through to the top of the AFC. The Colts have taken care of business in the road favorite role since Andrew Luck took over at quarterback in 2012, owning a terrific 9-2 SU/ATS record in this situation, including a 4-2 SU/ATS mark last season. Indianapolis’ schedule sets up nicely for a solid start, taking on the Jets, Titans, Jaguars, and Texans before hosting New England in Week 6.
The Bills begin the Rex Ryan era with plenty of question marks under center as former RavenTyrod Taylor gets the start in the opener. However, Buffalo has been successful the last few seasons when receiving points at Ralph Wilson Stadium, compiling a 6-1 ATS mark as a home underdog since 2013. When Ryan coached the Jets, he was successful in season openers, winning five of six, including a 4-1 record at home. The Bills should get a nice boost in the backfield as LeSean McCoy is expected to play in spite of missing most of the preseason with a groin injury.
Dolphins (-3 ½, 43 ½) at Redskins – 1:00 PM EST
One of the biggest disasters of the preseason was the quarterback controversy in Washington as Robert Griffin III was sacked in favor of Kirk Cousins. The Redskins have won a combined seven games the last two seasons since capturing the NFC East title in 2012, while Cousins put together a 1-4 record as a starter in 2014 (he didn’t finish that lone win, replaced by Colt McCoy in a home victory over Tennessee). Washington went 3-5 at home last season with two of those wins coming against AFC foes, as the ‘Skins have won four of their last five at FedEx Field in interconference action.
The Dolphins own a favorable schedule to begin the season after their trip to Washington (Jaguars, Bills, Jets in first four weeks). Miami has won and covered each of the last two season openers, but the Dolphins are favored in Week 1 for the first time since 2010. The Dolphins have fared well on the front-end of back-to-back games under Joe Philbin, going 4-2 SU and 6-0 ATS, even though five of those games came in the underdog role.
Panthers (-3, 41) at Jaguars – 1:00 PM EST
Carolina became the first team to win consecutive NFC South titles since realignment in 2002, even though the Panthers finished 7-8-1 last season. The Panthers have struggled in road openers recently, posting a 1-5 SU/ATS record since 2009 with the only win coming with Cam Newton sidelined in last season’s opening victory at Tampa Bay. However, under Ron Rivera, the Panthers own a 2-6 ATS record as a road favorite the last three seasons, while not being listed in this role in 2014.
Jacksonville hasn’t put together a winning season since 2007, as Blake Bortles enters his second season at quarterback. The Jaguars won just three games in Bortles’ rookie campaign, while the team posted a 6-9-1 ATS record, including a 2-4 ATS mark as a home underdog. Under Gus Bradley, the Jags have started 0-5 SU/ATS each of the last two seasons, while losing each season opener by at least 17 points.
Seahawks (-4, 40 ½) at Rams – 1:00 PM EST
The two-time defending NFC champions hit the road to start the season for the fourth time in the last five seasons, going for their third straight Week 1 victory. Seattle has lost two of its last three visits to the Edward Jones Dome, including a 28-26 setback as seven-point favorites last season. Super Bowl losers have fared well in the following season’s openers, winning three straight and putting together a 2-1 ATS record.
Will this be the year the Rams break through under Jeff Fisher? St. Louis hasn’t picked up a winning season since Fisher arrived in 2012, but the off-season acquisition of Nick Foles at quarterback should jump-start an offense that scored 19 points or less eight times in 2014. The Rams have stumbled against their division foes, going 3-9 SU/ATS the last two seasons, including four losses to Seattle. St. Louis allowed at least 26 points in five of eight home games last season, which resulted in a 5-3 ‘over’ mark.
Bengals (-3 ½, 43) at Raiders – 4:25 PM EST
Cincinnati is fresh off three straight double-digit victory seasons, but the Bengals have failed to escape the Wild Card round each time. Marvin Lewis’ squad begins the 2015 campaign with three of their first four games against AFC West foes, looking to capitalize off a 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS road record from last season. The Bengals have struggled when laying points away from Paul Brown Stadium the past two seasons, going 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS with the only two victories coming by a combined four points.
The Raiders are turning into a popular pick to make the playoffs in Jack Del Rio’s first season, even though the Silver and Black has won a combined 11 games the past three years. Oakland closed out last season very strong at the Black Hole, winning its final three games in the underdog role against Kansas City, San Francisco, and Buffalo. However, the Raiders haven’t fared well in season openers in the last decade, losing nine of the past 10, including five defeats at the Coliseum.