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NFL Games Bettors Should Avoid in Week 1, 2020

| May 17, 2020 2:09 am PDT
NFL Week 1 Games to Avoid

The 2020 NFL schedule release has come and gone, leaving sports bettors with even more NFL wagers to ponder. I took a second to go over the first week of action in my week 1 NFL betting preview and was surprised at all the value available.

Some games stood out due to amazing matchups, crazy star power, or numerous avenues for bettors to obtain winning wagers. That led me to look at the best week 1 NFL games to bet on, and naturally, it’s time to look at the other side of things.

Week 1 is always a bit of a trap. You think you know everything about all of the teams, and it can really blow up in your face.

In an effort to try to limit the negative side of betting on the NFL early in the year, let’s look at 5 week 1 NFL games bettors should avoid.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots

This one stands out for a couple of reasons. First, it could be the pro debut of Tua Tagovailoa. It also is the first official regular-season game following Tom Brady’s exit.

The Dolphins could continue to be bad, so them being installed as 7-point road underdogs isn’t a shock. New England wasn’t amazing on offense in 2019, however, and the switch to Jarrett Stidham presents an uncertain future.

Are the Patriots beating Miami at home? Probably, and they’re likely to cover, too. Trust in Bill Belichick and all that jazz. But this could be an ugly one, and it’s impossible to know for sure what to make of the Pats just yet.

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills

I don’t know about you, but when I bet on pro football games, I want two things: an entertaining game and relative safety with my wagers. That, or crazy upside.

I don’t know if we’re getting any of it in this ugly AFC East clash. I’m not going out of my way to pick on this division, either. That’s just how the cards fall.

The reality is I don’t trust Adam Gase, and Buffalo has a really good defense. The top NFL betting sites online also give this game a nasty total of 40, which is good for the lowest of week 1.

Not only do I not want any part in that, but this game is also going to be tough to figure out. The Jets could win, they could lose and beat the 6-point spread, or they could get blown off the face of the earth.

Nobody knows, and it might not be pretty. It’s an uber pass for me in the first week of the year.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Carolina Panthers

In theory, this is a gimme game for a Raiders team that has been pretty well constructed and could be ready for a big jump in 2020.

Of course, it’s also still a road game to start the year, because the NFL forever hates everything Raiders and wants them to die.

Las Vegas wants to excite their fan base and bring a great product to their city, but beating anyone on the road in week 1 can be a tall order.

Carolina is probably rebuilding, too, but they did sign Teddy Bridgewater to manage games, and Christian McCaffrey has a case to win the 2020 NFL MVP.

This game is basically a pick’em, but it has an insane range of outcomes. My gut says the Raiders win here, but without much upside attached to a toss-up contest, this may be one to sidestep in week 1.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions

The NFC North is a lot tougher than people seem to think. Chicago is a year removed from looking like a title threat, and the Lions were pretty competitive in 2019.

Detroit looked awful by record alone (3-12-1), but eight of their losses came by one score. Had Matthew Stafford not broken his back, maybe last year would have been a lot different.

Regardless, Detroit hits the reset button in a do-or-die campaign for head coach Matt Patricia. He’ll be pulling out all the stops to get wins, while Detroit has a mild edge at home in week 1.

There’s also the Bears, who have a bright offensive mind at head coach (supposedly) and may get an upgrade under center with Nick Foles in town.

None of this tells us much of anything. I tend to think the top betting sites agree, which is why this is another virtual pick’em (Lions are mild -1.5 favorites).

Chicago is probably the more complete team, but their quarterback position is unsettled, and they’re on the road against a team that knows them well. Sporting a low 43.5 total at BetNow, this game is an utter mess and one best left avoided.

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Lastly, we have the Seahawks, which should really just be called the Seattle Russell Wilsons.

He keeps dropping MVP-caliber numbers and willing the Seahawks to the playoffs but hasn’t had much to show for it in years.

Seattle only goes as far as he’ll take them. Thanks to a bad pass rush and a system that is overly reliant on Wilson’s scrambling antics, nobody knows what that means anymore.

The Seahawks should win this game, to be sure. They were better than the Falcons last year, they have a top-5 rushing attack, and Wilson is da gawd.

But the Falcons brought in Todd Gurley to bolster an explosive offense, and Dan Quinn knows Seattle as well as anyone.

Another toss-up? Probably, as BetNow lists this game as a true pick’em.


The moral of the story here is that if you can’t find a clear edge, it is often best to back away from a bet. I liken it to a game of poker. The NFL season as a whole is a grind, and you need to pick your spots.

In some cases, you go all in when everything lines up. A lot of the time, you fold.

Each week, you have 1-2 games that demand you at least consider betting a lot on, while several others are worth a glance. The rest — as much fun as it is to just bet on them all — arguably need to be left alone.

The five aforementioned week 1 NFL games can still be wagered on, but they all feel like dicey situations that will be difficult to safely assess.

Speaking of safety, keep an eye out for our weekly locks and expert NFL picks when the season rolls around. For more odds and predictions, check out our sports blog.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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