The first week of the 2020 NFL season was volatile and unpredictable, as you would expect after an offseason without preseason games and chances for rookies to get accustomed to their teammates. Pandemic football is disjointed and uncertain, so making betting decisions on early-season games should be treated with a lot of caution and care. As the NFC teams prepare for another week of games, keep in mind how unsteady a lot of these teams were this past weekend. Don’t think you have figured out these teams. They might simply need a month’s worth of games to realize what they are – and aren’t – capable of achieving in 2020.
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys
Odds: Cowboys -5
This game is extremely important since the loser will fall to 0-2. The Falcons and Cowboys both lost to NFC West opponents. Atlanta lost decisively to the Seattle Seahawks at home, 38-25. A young defense was toothless against Russell Wilson, who completed 31-of-35 passes. The Falcons had hoped to upgrade their pass rush in the offseason, but that project fell flat on its face.
The Cowboys were victimized by Aaron Donald and the pass rush of the Los Angeles Rams. In a defense-dominated game, the Cowboys mustered 17 points, falling to the Rams 20-17. Dallas’ offensive line was blown up, and that will get in the way of Dak Prescott’s ability to spread the ball around to his many talented receivers. Ultimately, the matchup favors Dallas because Atlanta doesn’t have anything close to the pass rush the Rams have. Dallas should score a ton of points and cover the spread in the sportsbook.
Pick: Cowboys -5
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Odds: Packers -6
The Packers’ offense exploded for 43 points against the Minnesota Vikings, a great sign. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams hooked up for multiple long-distance connections. They torched the Minnesota secondary and looked like Pro Bowlers.
The Detroit Lions blew a 23-6 lead at home to the Chicago Bears. That kind of loss instantly damages morale in the locker room and puts head coach Matt Patricia on the hot seat. Detroit will be desperate to win this game, but wanting to win means little when the Lions’ secondary gives up 21 fourth-quarter points to Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears. That’s a terrible showing that doesn’t bode well for this encounter in Green Bay. Take the Packers on the NFL odds.
Pick: Packers -6
Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia Eagles
Odds: Eagles -1
The Philadelphia offensive line was missing multiple linemen in Week 1, and after getting a 17-0 lead against Washington, that offensive line was destroyed. It simply cannot protect Carson Wentz. The Rams, with Donald leading the way, should hammer the Eagles’ offensive front. The Rams might not score a lot, but the Eagles will score less.
Pick: Rams +1
Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals
Odds: Cardinals -7
The Cardinals look like a contender after beating the defending NFC champion 49ers in San Francisco. The Arizona defense smothered the San Francisco offense, limiting the 49ers to 10 points over the game’s final three quarters. Seven of those came courtesy of a bad pass interference penalty on third-and-long, in which a linebacker panicked though he had help from safeties and cornerbacks over the top. The Arizona defense should dominate here, and if Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins continue to settle into Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, this could be a complete blowout in Glendale, Az.
Pick: Cardinals -7
New York Giants at Chicago Bears
Odds: Bears -5.5
The Giants still haven’t played their first game, since they were noticeably absent on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Daniel Jones is likely to have a tough time against the Bears’ front seven. Chicago might not score a lot, but its defense should be able to dictate the terms.
Pick: Bears -5.5
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Odds: Bucs -8.5
The Tom Brady Show in Tampa got off to a rocky start in a decisive loss to the Saints, but it has to be said that New Orleans is likely the toughest team the Buccaneers are going to play all season. One shouldn’t overreact to the Bucs’ loss or Brady’s multiple interceptions.
The Carolina Panthers lost to the Las Vegas Raiders. However, they scored 30 points and looked good on offense with Teddy Bridgewater as the starting quarterback. Christian McCaffrey should help the Panthers score enough points to stay close. Tampa Bay will win the game outright, but the Panthers will cover.
Pick: Panthers +8.5