Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
The 2020 NFL regular season is finally here, folks. After months of waiting, meaningful football is right around the corner. The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will host the Houston Texans to kick off the season Thursday night.
While the season-opener promises to be fun, it’s just the tip of the Week 1 iceberg. Fans will also be treated to an NFC North matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, a battle between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams and a Monday night double-header featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos.
Oh, and there will be Round 1 of the new Drew Brees-Tom Brady rivalry when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the New Orleans Saints.
How will all of the action play out? Let’s take a look at the latest lines from DraftKings Sportsbook and make some predictions.
NFL Week 1 Lines and Picks
Thursday, September 10
Houston Texans (+9) at Kansas City Chiefs: 31-21 Kansas City
Sunday, September 13
Cleveland Browns (+8) at Baltimore Ravens: 24-20 Baltimore
Philadelphia Eagles (-6) at Washington Football Team: 20-16 Philadelphia
Indianapolis Colts (-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars: 30-17 Indianapolis
New York Jets (+6.5) at Buffalo Bills: 28-20 Buffalo
Miami Dolphins (+6.5) at New England Patriots: 21-13 New England
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons: 26-24 Atlanta
Chicago Bears (+3) at Detroit Lions: 20-16 Detroit
Green Bay Packers (+2.5) at Minnesota Vikings: 23-21 Minnesota
Las Vegas Raiders (-3) at Carolina Panthers: 21-20 Carolina
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals: 30-28 Los Angeles
Arizona Cardinals (+7) at San Francisco 49ers: 28-26 San Francisco
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at New Orleans Saints: 27-24 New Orleans
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Los Angeles Rams: 30-17 Dallas
Monday, September 14
Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at New York Giants: 20-16 Pittsburgh
Tennessee Titans (+1) at Denver Broncos: 26-24 Tennessee
Houston Texans (+9) at Kansas City Chiefs
While Thursday night’s opener should feature plenty of offensive fireworks, it’s a bit of a mismatch on paper. The Texans had the league’s 29th-ranked pass defense and 28th-ranked defense overall in 2019 and did little in the offseason to improve it.
Houston’s biggest moves in the secondary were to re-sign Vernon Hargreaves and Bradley Roby.
While Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense will be able to keep pace with the Chiefs for a while, Kansas City is likely to pull away in the second half. It might not be as ugly as the 51-31 drubbing the Chiefs handed out in the divisional round. However, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire are likely to show out.
With no DeAndre Hopkins to help even the playing field, expect the Texans to spend the game playing catch-up, with a late score making this one appear closer than it will be.
31-21 Kansas City
Indianapolis Colts (-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Though the Jacksonville Jaguars spent the offseason parting with several of their top players—including Yannick Ngakoue, Ronnie Harrison, Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye and Leonard Fournette—they promise that they are not tanking.
“Realistically, I know if we’re tanking, coach [Doug] Marrone, [general manager] Dave [Caldwell] and me are probably going to be out of jobs,” quarterback Gardner Minshew II said, per Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union.
Unfortunately for Minshew, a desire to keep his job isn’t going to improve the talent level on Jacksonville’s roster. The Jags had the league’s 24th-ranked defense last year, and that was before dumping the likes of Campbell and Ngakoue.
With Philip Rivers leading the Indianapolis passing attack, the Colts should have little trouble slicing through Jacksonville’s defense. Minshew will do enough to keep this one respectable, but the road team should run away with it late.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Los Angeles Rams
How much of an impact will the move from Jason Garrett to Mike McCarthy at head coach have for the Dallas Cowboys? We will get an early look Sunday night. If McCarthy can get Dallas to play up to its talent level, this one shouldn’t be close.
The Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl participants just two years ago, appear to be on the downswing. L.A. went 9-7 last year but parted with several key players in the offseason, including Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Dante Fowler Jr.
Perhaps the biggest issue for Los Angeles in this one will be the lack of an established running game. With Gurley gone, the Rams will rely on a committee backfield that is still trying to find its way. Dallas will be able to attack quarterback Jared Goff while chewing up Los Angeles’ 19th-ranked run defense.
The Cowboys can play ball control in this one, pressure Goff into a few mistakes and come away with an ugly but lopsided win. The Rams aren’t a bad team, but Dallas has the talent to be a legitimate title contender.