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Football! It's back, it's real and it's spectacular. While there's still a pandemic in the background, it feels vastly different from a year ago, when football legitimately could have just disappeared. Now we have fans in the stands and it could present some interesting betting opportunities -- at the very least it's going to create wildly different game situations for these players.

After a year of being able to easily communicate in empty stadiums, quarterbacks now will have to adjust to mildly different environments. If you don't believe me, watch this goosebumps-inducing video of Virginia Tech blasting "Enter Sandman" ahead of its huge upset of North Carolina last Friday night. 

There are at least three starting quarterbacks -- Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow -- who have not played against NFL defenses on the road with full stadiums of fans losing their minds. I'm not suggesting they'll crumble or anything this season, but road games are going to be more difficult (and probably some home games for Herbert). It felt like college football delivered a pretty big home-field advantage in some situations. So the trend warrants monitoring this week in the NFL as well. 

Before we get to the picks, big shoutout to Ryan Satsky, Justin Page and the entire CBS Sports research team. That crew puts an insane amount of work into creating these massive packets of info for us and don't get nearly enough credit for how hard they grind behind the scenes. 

To the picks!

All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

NFL Week 1 Picks

Cowboys at Buccaneers

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: 
NBC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App

Latest Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -9

Let's not sugar coat this. If you want to back the guy who brought out an "Austin Powers" meme in front of a bunch of 25-year-old kids instead of backing the single greatest player in NFL history, who recently declared that his favorite ring was his next while preparing to appear as the oldest defending Super Bowl champion quarterback in NFL history, backed by 22 returning starters and an elite defense captained by Todd Bowles, who got shafted by the Jets and Devin White, who you should bet for DPOY and Lavonte David, the most criminally underrated linebacker in the NFL over the last five years, plus Vita Vea/Ndamukong Suh going up against an offensive line without Zack Martin, by all means go ahead. 

The pick: Buccaneers 35, Cowboys 24

Props, Best Bets: Over 51.5, Tom Brady 1st TD (40-1), Antonio Brown over 4.5 receptions, O.J. Howard anytime TD +490

Cardinals at Titans

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)

Latest Odds: Tennessee Titans -2.5

This feels like the "let's not overreact to Week 1" Game of the Year. Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury need to take the proverbial leap this year but I don't know if we can say it happened because they beat the Titans. Tennessee's defense needs to be better, but I'm not sure we can say it is against an offense that is only sometimes explosive. Watch Derrick Henry's carries here -- if the Titans are going to keep him in the garage early in the season it will change how their offense operates. This game will be close with a ton of points. 

The pick: Cardinals 35, Titans 31

Props, Best Bets: Over whatever, Under Derrick Henry rush yards

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Jaguars at Texans

Sunday,1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Houston Texans +3

Whatever you do, don't take the Jaguars in your Survivor Pool. Don't do it! The Texans might be the worst team in football, but the Jaguars aren't that much better, this is a division game, it's Week 1, it's on the road and this is basically David Culley's Super Bowl. He needs this win a LOT more than Urban Meyer does. Trevor Lawrence is gonna be hard to screw up and Urban has done this long enough where he probably knows what he's doing. But if you expect Jacksonville to roll here just because Houston is awful, you haven't watched enough NFL football.

The Pick: Texans 21, Jaguars 17

Bets: Nope

Chargers at Football Team

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Washington Football Team -2

See what I mentioned above about crowds? My boys The Junkies on 106.7 the Fan don't think this is going to be an insane crowd in Washington (can't blame them, FedEx Field is a dump and really far away and this team has been MEEEEEH for 10 years running) but there's going to be people there and Ron Rivera's defense will show up and cause problems for a young quarterback with a new coach, a new offensive system and multiple new offensive linemen. Ultimately I think the Chargers did Justin Herbert a favor by adding Corey Linsley, et al, this offseason. But we shouldn't expect this team -- with a new coach in Brandon Staley -- to just magically be awesome out of the gate. Close game but the home team should sneak it out.

The Pick: WFT 24, Chargers 21

Bets: Pass

Vikings at Bengals

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Cincinnati Bengals +3

Kirk Cousins has done a very good job this offseason making the Minnesota Vikings unattractive from a season-long betting perspective, but that won't matter in this game. Joe Burrow is back but is he BACK? We haven't seen him confidently working the pocket the way we expect. Ja'Marr Chase's drops are a concern but I think he'll end up being fine. The bigger problem here is Cincy probably can't slow down the Vikings rushing attack. This is a Dalvin Cook smash spot out of the gate against a bad defense with an improved offensive line. I think Minnesota gets the lead and leans into it aggressively. If you disagree, take it up with Vegas: Dalvin's rush prop at Caesar's is 95.5! That's a bit too rich for Week 1 but I would still lean over on it. 

The Pick: Vikings 28, Bengals 17

Bets: Vikings -3

Jets at Panthers

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Carolina Panthers -3.5

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ... THE SAM DARNOLD REVENGE GAME!!!! Right out of the gate, you love to see it. Nice work, NFL schedule makers. You want to talk about a referendum game -- if Darnold stinks against his old team, Panthers fans are going to freak out. Conversely, if Darnold is awesome and Zach Wilson struggles, the NY Post back page is going to be incredible on Monday morning. So much at stake for such a meaningless game. I still believe in Darnold and while I'm petrified to do so, the universal theory that anything Adam Gase stops touching turns to gold is in play here big time. Matt Rhule and David Tepper will want to showcase their QB here, so I expect plenty of shots down the field against a horrendous Jets secondary. P.S. Sneaky revenge game for Rhule, too, who wanted the Jets job until they demanded to control what coaches he hired! 

The Pick: Panthers 31, Jets 24

Bets: Darnold over passing yards

Eagles at Falcons

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Atlanta Falcons -3.5

Not the most attractive Week 1 Bird Bowl here, although there are a ton of fantasy-related questions that could/will be answered here. How does Jalen Hurts look in Nick Sirianni's offense? How does Matt Ryan look (or more importantly how does the OL look) in Arthur Smith's offense? Will Dean Pees create pressure without an abundance of talent for the Falcons defense? Are DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor going to answer the draft hype? No one is looking for these two teams to make the playoffs but this is a sneaky fun game. I would lean over here and think most people believe that but I'd like to see the pace from these teams first before betting it.

The Pick: Falcons 28, Eagles 21

Bets: Pass

Steelers at Bills

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Buffalo Bills -6.5

A very quick heat check for the "Big Ben is fine" crowd with a trip to Buffalo that should feature QUITE the rowdy crowd as well as a Sean McDermott defense expected to bounce back for the Bills. I am super high on Buffalo this year -- not quite as high as Pete Prisco and four or five other NFL writers here at CBS but quite high -- for obvious reasons. If Josh Allen somehow gets BETTER look out. If he just maintains last year's level this is a 11-13-win team. Pittsburgh will get to find out quickly how the revamped offensive line looks and I would expect Allen to test that secondary deep early and often.

The Pick: Bills 38, Steelers 24

Bets: Bills -6.5

Seahawks at Colts 

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Indianapolis Colts +3

OK maybe this is the "let's freak out about Week 1" game of the year of the century. Russell Wilson spent all offseason complaining -- in a very passive-aggressive fashion -- about not being the Seahawks GM, only to come back and apologize to Pete Carroll and embrace whatever Shane Waldron is going to do on offense. We're led to believe it will be up-tempo and that it will feature more short passing and that it will #LetRussCook. We'll see! Carson Wentz is forcing his way back despite a pretty big foot injury in the preseason. Is he going to be mobile still? Or will he be a handoff machine in this game? I would bet the Colts want to slow this thing down to a crawl. How the Seahawks respond is really fascinating because you can lure Carroll into an unnecessary slugfest pretty easily.

The Pick: Seahawks 24, Colts 17

Bets: Pass

49ers at Lions

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Detroit Lions +9.5

Ever have a game you suddenly look at midweek and get petrified of how obvious it is? Because Kyle Shanahan vs. Dan Campbell, with all of my Trey Sermon shares, and as bad as Detroit should be and as good as I expect the 49ers to be ... well, this is that game for me. How are the Niners not going to blast the Lions into oblivion? Everyone and their brother will be on San Francisco in survivor pools. Jamey Eisenberg named Raheem Mostert his Start of the Week out of the gate. Is the world going to mush the 49ers? Or are the Lions just horrendous? I lean toward the latter because it appears really obvious and we have decades of history to point to. 

The Pick: 49ers 35, Lions 10

Bets: 49ers -7.5 -- better to tease them honestly, blind over Trey Sermon rush yards

Browns at Chiefs

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Kansas City Chiefs -5.5

What a David and Goliath moment here for Cleveland and Baker Mayfield. They had the Chiefs down on the mat in the playoffs last year, dangerously close to taking out the new AFC dynasty before Andy Reid and *checks notes* CHAD HENNE popped back up and won. The Browns are weird because they're super into analytics and yet most analytical football sites are down on them because they overachieved last year. At the same time, their roster is awesome! Put them in a different uniform and I'm way more bullish on them most likely. Their defense isn't slowing down Patrick Mahomes, but I don't think the Chiefs will stop Baker and Nick Chubb either. Scoring fest here with the Browns sneaking in a last-minute cover.

The Pick: Chiefs 31, Browns 28

Bets: Over

Packers at Saints (in Jacksonville)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: New Orleans Saints +3.5

This game is now being played in Jacksonville, which is pretty massive from a home-field perspective -- the Saints were going to have a WILD scene in the Superdome for this game. I'm very bullish on Jameis Winston this season and think he could end up having a nice year. But the Packers should be able to get the offense cooking early and I expect Aaron Rodgers to come out guns blazing after this offseason and no action in the preseason. The Last Dance kicks off at the Landing and the Packers roll. 

The Pick: Packers 31, Saints 24

Bets: Packers -4, Davante Adams first TD any number

Broncos at Giants

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: New York Giants +3

Vic Fangio and Jason Garrett in the same stadium? My, my, my. We should really be in store for a bunch of points in this one. I love Denver here but think it's probably going to be a low-scoring affair. Both of these defenses are stout and both offenses are extremely conservative. Teddy Bridgewater is starting for a reason -- he doesn't turn the ball over and is a great game manager. You know who DOES turn the ball over? Daniel Jones aka Danny Dimes. Give me the Broncos in a sludgefest.

The Pick: Broncos 17, Giants 10

Bets: Broncos -3 and under

Dolphins at Patriots

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: New England Patriots -3.5

I'm super bullish on the Patriots -- you could make the case that since they're rolling with a rookie QB in Mac Jones their offense might be limited, but I think Bill Belichick going with Mac should make us all that much more confident in his ability to play at a high level. This is going to be a run-first/defense-based team and I expect them to make life very, very difficult for Tua Tagovailoa who has never actually played against an NFL defense in a fully packed away game. Welcome to New England against Bill Belichick's revamped defense, young man! 

The Pick: Patriots 24, Dolphins 13

Bets: Pats -3, under

Bears at Rams

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: 
NBC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Rams -9.5

Pretty simple handicap here: the Bears offensive line is terrible, Andy Dalton struggles badly when he's pressured, the Rams have Aaron Donald and Sean McVay doesn't lose Week 1 games as a head coach in the NFL. The Rams should hammer the Bears and this game should fly under the total, just like every single one of the McVay/Matt Nagy matchups has.

The Pick: Rams 21, Bears 10

Bets: Under

Ravens at Raiders

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: 
ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Las Vegas Raiders +3

I am not particularly high on the Raiders this year, but this Week 1 matchup should be a good spot for them, especially since Baltimore's ability to pound the ball took another big hit with Gus Edwards going down, joining J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill. The fans will be rowdy and Lamar Jackson just doesn't have enough support around him to pile up the points. Baltimore's record in Week 1 games with Lamar is terrifying for sure, but I think Jon Gruden will cook up a lot here on offense, Derek Carr will play surprisingly well and Las Vegas pulls of a stunner on MNF.

The Pick: Raiders 24, Ravens 21

Bets: Pass