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NFL Week 1 What We Learned: Contenders & Pretenders

Cowboys in Trouble, Steelers Surprise, Chiefs Just Fine

Week 1 of the NFL season kicked off in fine style. Football fans were treated to nerve-biting thrillers, absorbing contests, stunning upsets, and more. There was something for everyone in the jam-packed season-opening weekend.

As ever, we weigh in on the action and the takeaways from some of the key games, including their impact on the NFL odds. We’ll also get you up-to-date with the latest NFL news, NFL picks, trades, injury reports, and more – all of which are going to be useful information for next week’s NFL predictions.

NFL Week 1 – What We Learned
Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Week 1 Lessons

Chiefs Throw Down Gauntlet in AFC West

No Tyreek Hill, no problem. Patrick Mahomes threw for five touchdowns as he went 30 of 39 for 360 yards in Kansas City’s 44-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. After an offseason of wild speculation about the six-time defending AFC West champions in a supposedly fortified division – in part due to the Russell Wilson trade to Denver and Davante Adams’ move to Las Vegas – the Chiefs set the record straight.

The Kansas City Chiefs cemented themselves as the top bet to win the AFC West at +150 following Week 1. Elsewhere in the division, the Los Angeles Chargers underscored their dangerous floater credentials with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Following the 24-19 win, the Chargers saw their betting online odds improve from +250 to +180.

The Raiders, in turn, saw their odds drop from +550 to +900 as they slipped to a 0-1 straight-up (SU) start. Finally, the Denver Broncos saw their odds slip from +250 to +300 after their less-than-stellar MNF performance against the Seattle Seahawks.

Dallas Cowboys in Trouble

The Dallas Cowboys will be without Dak Prescott for the foreseeable as the prized quarterback will require surgery on his hand, which he injured in Dallas’ 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football.

Although Prescott’s injury is a huge blow to the team, the truth of the matter is that the Cowboys weren’t that good at all and their offense was astonishingly impotent from start to finish. After their first drive, which resulted in a field goal, the Cowboys were totally ineffective and went pointless for the rest of the game.

Take a Look at Other Game Previews & Picks for this NFL season

NFL odds markets haven’t wasted time, updating the NFC East picture accordingly. The most significant impact is at the top between the Cowboys and their rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. As it is, the Cowboys’ odds to win the NFC East have almost quadrupled – going from +135 to +550. At the same time, the Eagles are the newly-minted odds-on favorites at -200 after beating the Detroit Lions 38-35.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Best in the NFC?

NFL Week 1 – What We Learned
Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

With four of the five four NFC contenders disappointing in Week 1, the path to the NFC No. 1 seed would appear to be there for the taking by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – the only of the top five NFC teams to win their season opener.

The Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and Cowboys were all projected to be Super Bowl 57 contenders at the sportsbook exchange. However, the defending Super Bowl champion Rams saw their stock drop dramatically after an underwhelming 31-10 defeat to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football.

Elsewhere, the 49ers slipped to a 19-10 defeat against the Chicago Bears; the Packers failed to show up in a 22-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and the Cowboys barely recorded a whimper in their 19-3 loss to the Bucs.

NFL Week 1 Kickers’ Curse Real

The Kickers’ Curse kicked off (pun intended) with a bang in Week 1, but don’t worry if you lost count of all the kicks that went awry and the missed field goals that impacted the outcome of the game. There was a lot to take in. Here are some of the key misses:

  • Evan McPherson (Bengals) – In what turned out to be the game of the week, the Bengals succumbed to the stunning 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The irony, though, is that the Bengals could have won it in regulation time had McPherson converted the extra point to cap off Joe Burrow’s touchdown drive with the game-winning point. Micah Fitzpatrick blocked the kick, sending the game into overtime. McPherson later missed a 29-yard field goal in OT.
  • Chris Boswell (Steelers) – Just when the Steelers thought the DUB was once again within their reach, Boswell’s 55-yard field goal attempt hits the uprights. It was the doink heard around the league. Lucky for Boswell and the Steelers, the kicker redeemed himself on his second try in overtime, drilling a 53-yarder to deliver the upset win over the defending AFC Champions.
  • Rodrigo Blankenship (Colts) – The Houston Texans had the Indianapolis Colts surprisingly on the ropes as the game went into overtime. Blankenship had the chance to deliver the win for his side but he botched the potential 42-yard game-winning field goal, sending it wide right.
  • Randy Bullock (Titans) – The Titans were trailing 21-20 and Ryan Tannehill had just set up the Titans for a game-winning field goal attempt at the 47-yard line in the dying seconds of the game. Bullock’s kick went wide left and the Giants started the season 1-0 to sit pretty in a three-way tie with the Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the NFC East.

Younghoe Koo (Falcons) – The Atlanta Falcons were within a longshot kick to steal the win for the Falcons at the expense of the New Orleans Saints, but Koo’s 63-yard field goal was blocked and the Saints took the narrow win instead. Ironically, Saints kicker Will Lutz had just drilled the go-ahead field goal from 51 yards to give the Saints the 27-26 lead.

Trey Lance Debut Flops

The hyped-up start to the Trey Lance era with the San Francisco 49ers flopped on the back of a 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on a rain-soaked Soldier Field. The torrential downpour was an unexpected player that turned the game into a soggy slugfest, but few would have predicted it would become the great leveler in an otherwise mismatched affair between two teams that are expected to go in opposite directions this season.

The Bears were supposed to be ridiculously beatable and the Niners, a Super Bowl team-in-waiting, were supposed to crush them in victory. NFL betting markets mirrored this sentiment, closing with the Niners odds-on to win and tipped as the touchdown favorites for NFL picks against the spread

Tale told, the Bears pulled off the unthinkable upset, clinching the outright win and cover at the expense of the Niners.

Tight end George Kittle, who sat out due to a groin injury, was quite forthcoming in his observations. He said the team will do what it needs to support and play well around Lance. However, he did also imply that the 22-year-old quarterback bore responsibility for his performance and the team’s loss too.

He’s a grown man. I know he’s young, but he’s played football,” said Kittle with particular emphasis on the word “played.” The most striking thing about that sentence is what Kittle didn’t say aloud and that is that these kinds of performances and losses won’t fly with a team that’s very much about winning it all this season.

One game is too small of a cross-section to deliver a fair verdict on Lance’s debut as a starter, but time is a luxury that only teams in the development phase can indulge. That’s not the case with the Niners, who now have only 16 games with which to make the playoffs this season.

This raises the question of how much leeway Kyle Shanahan and/or the Niners’ establishment willing to give the kid. When you know who is sitting on the bench.

Don’t forget to stay tuned to BetUS Sportsbook & Casino and take a look at NFL expert picks!

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