Early season NFL betting often provides some of the wonkiest results of the year. In Week 1 of 2018, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 34-23. The Bengals would only go on to win five more games (finishing 6-10), while the Colts would go on to earn a playoff berth at 10-6.
Point being, reading too much into Week 1 results is often a mistake, as season openers can create some very misleading takeaways. With that in mind, here are three teams on upset alert in Week 1.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Kansas City Chiefs looked like juggernauts last season, but on the few occasions they struggled, it was generally against a top-tier defense. Three of the Chiefs' four regular-season losses came against a team that ranked in the top 11 in points against last season. Additionally, Patrick Mahomes was held below a passer rating of 100.0 on three occasions in 2018, but each was against a team ranked in the top six of Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA ratings. One such game came at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, as Mahomes tossed two INTs and was held to a season-worst passer rating of 62.7. If the Jaguars can hold Mahomes in check, as they did in 2018, the addition of Nick Foles at QB could help the Jags pull off the upset at home.
2. Atlanta Falcons vs Minnesota Vikings (-4)
Despite some lofty expectations, the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons both failed to make the playoffs in 2018. However, the Vikings could get off to another slow start against the Falcons in Week 1. For one, Matt Ryan is really effective when playing in a dome, like US Bank Stadium. In 2018, he threw for 9.52 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) in domes, compared to 7.83 AY/A when playing outdoors. Additionally, Atlanta's defense was decimated by injuries in 2018, losing both Keanu Neale and Deion Jones for the majority of the season. Now that the unit is healthy, Atlanta's defense could look a lot more like it did in 2017, when it held opponents to 19.7 PPG (No. 8 in the NFL). With a healthy defense and Ryan's dominance in domes, Atlanta could pull off the upset on the road in Week 1.
1. Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts
While the Los Angeles Chargers have finished above .500 in each of the last two years, they've really struggled in season openers. Dating back to 2013, the Chargers have lost four of their five Week 1 games, including each of their last three. They've also struggled in the first quarter of the season recently, going a combined 2-6 in their first four games of the year over the last two seasons. Los Angeles is going to be without Derwin James and Melvin Gordon, and while the Colts won't have Andrew Luck under center, the team is still talented enough to give the shorthanded Chargers a run for their money in Week 1.
Join FanDuel Sportsbook Today. New users get a risk-free bet up to $500. Join Now.
Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.