There is always the potential for injuries, trades or suspensions, and there will be a bit of player movement following June 1 roster cuts around the league, but following the NFL draft most teams have a pretty clear idea of what their rosters will look like entering the 2017 regular season.
That begins in the annual Kickoff Game, this year hosted by New England on Thursday, September 7. NFL Week 1 odds are out at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, so let’s examine some interesting lines.
Chiefs at Patriots (-7.5): New England is the second-biggest favorite on the board for the opening week. The reigning Super Bowl champion is 11-2 all-time in this game. Only one home team has lost the Kickoff Game: the New York Giants to Dallas in 2012. The other Super Bowl champion to lose was Baltimore at Denver in 2013. The Super Bowl winners host this game, but the Ravens couldn’t that year due to a conflict that night with MLB’s Orioles. The Patriots are 3-0 in this game and haven’t lost at home to Kansas City since 1990, a span of six games including playoffs.
Steelers at Browns (+9.5): Cleveland is the biggest Week 1 underdog and likely will be the biggest dog on the board often this year. Some sportsbooks have released early odds on every game in the 2017 regular season and the Browns, coming off a 1-15 mark in 2016, weren’t favored in any of them. Just don’t expect Cleveland to go winless even though it passed up multiple chances at taking a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft and has major question marks at the position. Only one team in history, the 2008 Lions, has finished 0-16.
Seahawks at Packers (-3): Arguably the most important Week 1 game as Seattle and Green Bay are reigning division champions and betting favorites to repeat in the NFC West and NFC North, respectively. You may not think winning a game so early could be vital, but it could prove to be for a playoff tiebreaker regarding home-field advantage. In 2014, the Seahawks and Packers also won their respective divisions and finished with 12-4 records. Seattle had hosted Green Bay in Week 1 and won 36-16. That would be the tiebreaker for where the NFC Championship Game was held between the teams. The Seahawks won that one as well, 28-22 in overtime. Green Bay beat the visiting Seahawks 38-10 in Week 14 last year, picking off Russell Wilson a career-high five times.
Jaguars at Texans (-4.5): Two early NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year favorites could square off here in Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette and Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Jaguars took LSU’s Fournette at No. 4 overall in the draft, and he’ll be the featured back from Day 1 barring injury. Houston traded up from No. 25 to No. 12 to land Watson, the former Clemson star and two-time Heisman finalist. However, Watson will have to beat out Tom Savage for the starting job.