The Kansas City Chiefs will have Patrick Mahomes under center after they raise their championship banner and embark on a quest to become the first team to repeat in nearly two decades.
Travis Kelce and Chris Jones may not be on the field.
Kelce, the All-Pro tight end, is dealing with a knee injury. Jones, the All-Pro edge rusher, has been holding out for a new contract.
Mahomes should be enough to squeak past the upstart Detroit Lions.
Jared Goff is coming off a Pro Bowl season with the Lions, who have plenty of playmakers around him on offense. Stopping opponents from scoring was Detroit’s problem last season and a revamped defense has to deal with Mahomes right away.
The Chiefs are 5 1/2 point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That’s too many points considering the uncertainty surrounding Kelce and Jones. Goff is 6-0 against the spread (ATS) in Week 1 with the Rams and Lions.
Houston (plus 10) at Baltimore
Texans QB C.J. Stroud faces a difficult defense in his NFL debut. The Texans should be improved under rookie coach DeMeco Ryans but they’ll endure growing pains in Week 1. Lamar Jackson got a new contract, a new offensive coordinator and two new top receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie first-round pick Zay Flowers. It’s Jackson’s time to shine. The Ravens are 11-4 (ATS) under coach John Harbaugh.
BEST BET: RAVENS, 27-13
San Francisco (minus 2 1/2) at Pittsburgh
Brock Purdy’s surgically repaired elbow gets a tough first test against Pittsburgh’s defense led by T.J. Watt. 49ers star tight end George Kittle is dealing with a groin injury. Steelers QB Kenny Pickett is coming off an impressive preseason and aims to take a big leap in his second year. The Steelers were 8-2 straight up and ATS with Watt last season. They’ve only been a road underdog in Week 1 three times this century.
UPSET SPECIAL: STEELERS, 23-20
Carolina (plus 3 1/2) at Atlanta
Bryce Young makes his NFL debut leading a revamped Panthers offense. Falcons second-year QB Desmond Ridder has playmakers to help him, including rookie RB Bijan Robinson. Falcons coach Arthur Smith is under pressure to end a streak of five straight losing seasons. Young will be the 18th No. 1 overall pick to start Week 1 since 1970. The others were 3-13-1, 5-12 ATS. Panthers coach Frank Reich was 0-4-1 straight up and ATS in Week 1 with the Colts.
Cincinnati (minus 2 1/2) at Cleveland
The Bengals rebounded from an 0-2 start last season, but they can’t start slow again despite Joe Burrow’s calf injury. The Browns should be more competitive with a full season under Deshaun Watson. Burrow is 16-5 ATS on the road the previous two seasons.
Tampa Bay (plus 6) at Minnesota
No more Tom Brady. No chance for the Buccaneers to win a Super Bowl but they can compete in a weak division. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings are in the tougher NFC North, however. Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles is 12-36 as an underdog.
Arizona (plus 7) at Washington
The tanking begins for the Cardinals against Sam Howell and the Commanders.
Tennessee (plus 3) at New Orleans
Derek Carr gets a fresh start with the Saints. Carr looks to reverse a trend of losing as a favorite, 17-29-1 with the Raiders. The Titans are 1-4 ATS in Week 1 under coach Mike Vrabel and Tannehill is 0-3 ATS vs. the Saints. Something has to give.
Jacksonville (minus 4 1/2) at Indianapolis
Trevor Lawrence seems primed for a big year and the Jaguars are ready to take the next step after Doug Pederson led them to a playoff win in his first season. Rookie QB Anthony Richardson makes his debut with the rebuilding Colts. The Jaguars covered four straight road games to finish last season.
Los Angeles Rams (plus 5 1/2) at Seattle
The Rams have dropped a long way since winning the Super Bowl two years ago though they still have Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald. The Seahawks gave Geno Smith more playmakers and brought back Bobby Wagner. Seattle is 5-0 straight up and 3-2 ATS at home in Week 1 under coach Pete Carroll.
Philadelphia (minus 3 1/2) at New England
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles are stacked on both sides of the ball and even more determined to win after falling short in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick’s team hasn’t been an underdog at home in Week 1 since 2002 with Tom Brady. The Patriots will honor No. 12, who returns to Gillette Stadium. The defense has to be concerned with No. 1 (Hurts).
Las Vegas (plus 4) at Denver
First chance to find out if Russell Wilson’s miserable season was because of coaching as Sean Payton makes his debut with the Broncos. New Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo is 17-5 ATS as an underdog.
Green Bay (plus 1 1/2) at Chicago
Jordan Love takes over for Aaron Rodgers to begin a new era for the Packers. Justin Fields enters his third season looking to help the Bears to their first winning seasons since 2018. Rodgers owned the Bears, going 25-5. But he’s in New York now.
Miami (plus 3) at Los Angeles Chargers
A potential shootout featuring two high-flying offenses. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa returns from concussion issues to go head-to-head with Chargers QB Justin Herbert, who has Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator now. Tagovailoa is 0-3 ATS in PST.
Dallas (minus 3 1/2) at New York Giants
Dak Prescott gets Brandin Cooks to complement CeeDee Lamb but Tony Pollard will keep the Cowboys balanced on offense. Micah Parsons is a game-wrecker on a mission. Look out, Daniel Jones. Dallas has lost all three openers under coach Mike McCarthy.
Buffalo (minus 2 1/2) at New York Jets
Rodgers and the Jets have to go through Josh Allen and the Bills to win the AFC East so why not start in Week 1. Buffalo is missing Von Miller on defense. Rodgers isn’t used to being a home underdog. It only happened eight times at Lambeau Field. He was 6-1-1.
Overall: Straight up: 181-102. Against spread: 141-137-5.
Thursday: Straight up: 13-6. Against spread: 9-10.
Monday: Straight up: 10-7. Against spread: 8-9.
Best Bet: Straight up: 9-8. Against spread: 9-8.
Upset Special: Straight up: 6-11. Against spread: 8-8-1.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl