The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys gave us about as exciting of an NFL season opener as we could have asked for from these teams on Thursday night.
The Buccaneers pulled out a close 31-29 win as a 9.5-point favourite, coming through as a Survivor Pool pick and a popular money line parlay option.
Meanwhile, Dallas covered the number easily, but it really felt like they had so many chances to really take control of that game and failed, letting a potential outright win get away.
Now, we move on to the first Sunday of the NFL season, with an absolutely loaded slate to look forward to.
Here are our best bets for the first Sunday of the NFL season.
Domenic Padula: Broncos -3 at Giants
John Elway doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to drafting quarterbacks.
The good thing is that he’s done an excellent job loading up at almost every other position on his roster.
Plus, he finally seems to have found a serviceable quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater.
With a deep and talented defence that will feature Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Kyle Fuller, Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson and rookie Patrick Surtain II, the Broncos need a capable arm that can move the ball efficiently without turning over the football, which is exactly what Bridgewater will do.
That Denver defence will be looking forward to making a statement in its season opener against third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who has thrown 22 interceptions with 29 fumbles in his first two seasons in the NFL.
The Broncos defence will keep Jones and company in check.
All Bridgewater needs to do is outperform his counterpart and win by more than a field goal.
I’ll take Denver to win and cover on the road.
Chris Amberley: Cardinals at Titans Over 52
The Cardinals versus Titans game has shootout written all over it. These two teams both ranked top-six in the NFL in yards per game in 2020, and were first and third respectively in situation neutral pace.
Tennessee allowed the fourth-most passing yards in 2020, and featured the league’s third-worst pass rush per Pro Football Focus. They didn’t address their secondary concerns, outside of bringing in 32-year-old Janoris Jenkins, and Kyler Murray shredded opposing defences when healthy last season. Murray threw for 26 TDs and ran for 11 more, eclipsing 60 rushing yards seven times.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans added Julio Jones, who along with AJ Brown form arguably the best 1-2 receiving duo in the league. Tennessee also features two-time reigning rushing champ Derrick Henry, who should have no problem carving up a Cardinals rush defence that ranked 29th by PFF’s metrics last season.
Like the Titans, Arizona’s secondary is in shambles. Injuries and Malcolm Brown’s early retirement has left a giant hole at the cornerback position, which Ryan Tannehill will no doubt exploit.
Tannehill is coming off a career-high 33 passing TDs, and 7 rushing TD, while Tennessee games have a strong tendency to go over the total under his guidance.
The over was 12-3-1 in his 16 regular season starts in 2020, and is 21-4-1 in his starts during the past two seasons.
Luke Bellus: Carolina Panthers -4
I got two words for you.
I’m going into Sunday afternoon backing Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers.
Darnold, 24, is set to make his first start with the Panthers, and he’s doing it against his former team.
After spending three seasons in New York with the Jets, the quarterback will get a chance on Sunday to show his old organization just what they’re missing out on.
With a healthy Christian Mccaffrey, and weapons like D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, I expect this offence to come out on fire to start the season.
Meanwhile, rookie QB Zach Wilson is set to make his NFL debut on the road. Something that could spell trouble.
We’re already 1-0 this season if you tailed my Tom Brady over 2.5 touchdowns pick on Thursday night.
Let’s start the year 2-0 with a revenge game in Week 1.
Panthers -4, enjoy the NFL being back.