It's been more than seven months since two NFL teams faced off in an NFL game, as the absence of preseason means our last memory of the NFL was on the field of Hard Rock Stadium when the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years. That changes in less than a week, with the Chiefs beginning their title defense on Thursday against the Texans. While most people likely expect Andy Reid's team to prevail against a Houston squad that was unable to hold a 24-0 lead even for a half, the 9.5-point spread was enough that not one of our staffers were willing to make the Chiefs their one best bet for Week 1.
In fact, I almost made the Texans my best bet at 9.5 points. I know they've been the laughingstock of the offseason after dealing DeAndre Hopkins away for pennies on the dollar, but they still have plenty of depth at receiver. For all Bill O'Brien's faults as a personnel man, he's been a pretty great coach during his tenure, periodically finishing above .500 and winning the division title in four of the last five seasons. Plus, this team still has Deshaun Watson at quarterback -- should he be getting 9.5 points under any circumstances? The back door will be wide open for Watson to rally the Houston offense through even if the Texans are down big in the second half.
Ultimately, Texans +9.5 wasn't my favorite option on the board. I instead went with an NFC North battle that has seen the line move over the past week. You can find that below, as well as 16 more best bets from the rest of the CBS Sports NFL staff. Our favorite selection: Eagles -6, with three different staffers jumping on that line despite Philadelphia's rash of injuries on the offensive line.
SportsLine's Wizard of Odds, Kenny White, joins Will Brinson to break down their best Week 1 picks on the Pick Six Podcast; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Here's the rundown on the staff members making these picks: NFL insider Jason La Canfora; senior writer Pete Prisco; Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson; staff writers Cody Benjamin, John Breech, Jordan Dajani, Bryan DeArdo, Jared Dubin, Josh Edwards, Jeff Kerr, Tyler Sullivan, Chris Trapasso, Patrik Walker and Ryan Wilson; and editors Brett Anderson, Dan Schneier and R.J. White.
Week 1 odds
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
Texans at Chiefs (-9.5)
Browns at Ravens (-8)
Bears at Lions (-3)
Jets at Bills (-6.5)
Colts (-7.5) at Jaguars
Dolphins at Patriots (-6)
Packers at Vikings (-2.5)
Eagles (-6) at Washington
Seahawks (-1.5) at Falcons
Raiders (-2.5) at Panthers
Chargers (-3) at Bengals
Cardinals at 49ers (-7)
Buccaneers at Saints (-3.5)
Cowboys (-2.5) at Rams
Steelers (-4.5) at Giants
Titans at Broncos (-1.5)
Week 1 best bets
Browns at Ravens
Trapasso: Browns +8. The Browns beat the Ravens by 15 points in Baltimore early last season, and I just don't see a gap in roster talent between these two clubs worthy of a spread of eight points. Myles Garrett is back, and Cleveland made a concerted effort to fortify in the offensive line and returns key offensive skill-position players for Baker Mayfield.
Bears at Lions
White: Bears +3. We can't take much from the two matchups between these teams last year since Matthew Stafford was injured for both, but we do know that the futures market has considered the Bears the better team of the two all offseason. Yet the line for this game has increased to Lions -3, despite the real possibility that home-field advantage won't be worth much in the unique environment teams are forced to play in. I think the Bears have just as good a chance at winning this game outright as the Lions, and we're getting the benefit of a push if the Lions win by a field goal.
Jets at Bills
La Canfora: Bills -6.5. The Jets are a bad, bad football team. The exodus of what remained of their talent this offseason was striking, they are clearly in tear-down mode and Gregg Williams can only do so much with scheme. Who is going to rush the QB? Who do you have to fear, even a little bit, on the defensive side of the ball? The offensive line is being held together by toothpicks; journeymen abound. Good luck moving the ball on this Buffalo defense. Josh Allen will have time to run all over the place. Buffalo is a legit team who got better this offseason and whose 2019 season ended in horrible fashion. They start exercising demons right here.
Colts at Jaguars
Wilson: Colts -7.5. There are so many unknowns -- no preseason games is high on the list -- and 7.5 points is a lot in Week 1. But Philip Rivers will be surrounded by a really good offensive line, weapons at every skill position and a defense that is young, fast and aggressive. The Jags, meanwhile, have questions up and down the roster on both sides of the ball.
Packers at Vikings
Kerr: Packers +120. The Packers are +2.5 in this game, but Aaron Rodgers and this team were 6-2 on the road in the regular season in 2019. Included was the first season sweep of the Vikings since 2014. Green Bay's pass rush matches up well with Minnesota's run-first offense, which will have a new wrinkle under Gary Kubiak. This has the makings of a game where Minnesota will be forced to throw the ball 40-plus times to a group of wide receivers that doesn't include Stefon Diggs. Aaron Rodgers doesn't have a lot of pass-catching weapons either, but since when has that stopped him?
Eagles at Washington
Benjamin: Eagles -6. This might be the easiest bet of the season. (And that statement will inevitably come back to haunt me.) Since 2017, the Eagles are 6-0 against Washington and have won by more than six points all but once, averaging a 12.8-point margin of victory during that span. That may not mean much for 2020, you say, but then consider Washington is the clearest definition of a rebuilding NFL franchise, in every fashion possible. The Eagles, meanwhile, have a healthy Carson Wentz, more weapons and a mostly returning coaching staff. Ride with Doug Pederson.
Dajani: Eagles -6. The Eagles have won the last six games against Washington and the "Football Team" is coming off a nightmare of a season. They were forced to change their name and their uniforms, and they were blasted in the media. On the other hand, Philly is on the upswing in almost every way. Go ahead and take the Eagles.
Walker: Eagles -6. My belief in the Washington Football Team to do things right in 2020 is virtually nonexistent, but I fully expect the Eagles to push the Cowboys to the limit in the NFC East. To that end, I not only think this is the safest bet for Week 1, but I actually expect it to sway more in Philadelphia's favor as the opener approaches. Carson Wentz is healthy and 5-2 against Washington, who has just as many questions in their secondary as they've ever had. The jury is out on just how much Dwayne Haskins has progressed, but the Eagles defense front is as rabid as they are talented, and the second-year QB is in for the fight of his life -- in what could become a blowout loss.
Seahawks at Falcons
Dubin: Seahawks -1.5. I don't actually expect Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer to let Russ cook, but I also don't expect this Falcons team to be very good. If you're telling me I only have to lay 1.5 points with Russell Wilson against that defense, I'll take it.
Raiders at Panthers
Anderson: Raiders -2.5. Carolina's going to have a pretty awful defense, and it will likely be at its worst in Week 1. Maybe Teddy Bridgewater and Run CMC put up some points ... but they'll have to put up a ton to have a shot. The Panthers have someone new almost everywhere you look (coach and QB among them), while the Raiders have continuity. Traveling from West Coast to East Coast won't matter as much when it's the opener in front of a limited number of fans. The Raiders are a prime candidate to regress, but it won't start in Carolina.
Buccaners at Saints
Brinson: Saints -3.5. Everyone will want to back Tom Brady, but I'll take the aging, veteran quarterback with the loaded offense whos been playing with his team for years now in Drew Brees. The Saints don't like to start hot, but I think they'll be motivated to send a message in Week 1.
Cowboys at Rams
DeArdo: Rams +2.5. The Cowboys have the unenviable task of being the first team to face the semi-transformed Rams, who are looking to showcase the talents of rookie receiver Van Jefferson, who has been turning heads during training camp. The Cowboys' offense, a unit that put 44 points on the board the last time they faced Los Angeles, will be facing a significantly different Rams defense in Week 1. The team's 2020 defense, led by new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, will look to provide early pressure on Dak Prescott while keeping the Cowboys' big plays to a minimum.
Edwards: Rams +2.5. It boiled down to Seahawks -1.5 at Falcons and Rams +2.5 vs. Cowboys. The Cowboys will not necessarily be a bad team, but there should be some growing pains early in the season. Conversely, the Rams are better than the public perception. Early season matchups should favor teams with continuity, and that is one advantage that Los Angeles possesses over Dallas. The offensive line should be slightly improved after being cobbled together a year ago.
Steelers at Giants
Breech: Steelers -4.5. If there is one game in Week 1 that seems like a total mismatch, it's definitely this one. On paper -- and in real life -- this game feels like it could get ugly, and that mostly has to do with the fact that the Giants offense has a bunch of weaknesses that the Steelers defense is perfectly suited to take advantage of. The Giants offensive line was in shambles last year and things likely won't be much better this year; they'll be starting a rookie at left tackle after their regular starter decided to opt out for the season. This is basically a worst-case scenario for a Giants line that will be going up against one of the best defenses in football.
Schneier: Steelers -4.5. Considering the Giants won't have fans in attendance on Monday Night Football, it's nearly impossible to understand how the Steelers aren't nearly or a touchdown favorite in this one. Daniel Jones is operating a brand new offense in year two against 2019's breakout defense. The Giants have lost their starting safety and two of their top three cornerbacks to injuries and an opt out on what was already one of the NFL's worst pass defenses. It's a perfect scenario for Roethlisberger to make his return.
Titans at Broncos
Prisco: Broncos -1.5. The Titans are one of those teams that went deep in the playoffs because they ran the ball and played good defense. Is that sustainable? Not sure it is. The Broncos, on the other hand, are a team on the rise. The home-field advantage won't be what it normally is for the Broncos without fans, but the Titans will still have to adjust to the altitude. Broncos win this by a touchdown.
Sullivan: Broncos -1.5. Home-field advantage isn't really going to exist much in 2020 without fans in the stands. The Broncos, however, have an advantage that goes beyond folks hollering from their seats. The altitude in Denver, I believe, will play a large factor as the Broncos host the Titans in their opener. Due to the lack of offseason workouts caused by the pandemic, players may not be as well-conditioned as they would be to start a typical year. I see that manifesting itself with Tennessee struggling in Week 1, while the Broncos are more than used to playing in these conditions.