The 2018 NFL season is here! Palmerbet Sports Team preview the eight biggest clashes from Week 1.
History: Played 34: Eagles 19 V Falcons 14 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: January 13, 2018 (Divisional Playoff): Eagles 15 d Falcons 10 at Lincoln Financial Field
Final Thoughts: The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles start their quest for back-to-back Super Bowl victories up against the team they conquered in the NFC Divisional Playoff last season, the Atlanta Falcons.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is still out injured, which means last year’s Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will step into the breach. WR Alshon Jeffery will also be missing from Philly’s line-up.
But that shouldn’t hamper the Eagles’ freewheeling offence too much. It’s up to the Falcons’ strong defence, which gave up plenty of yards last year but also conceding the third-least points in the NFL, to control this clash and let QB Matt Ryan take care of the rest.
The Eagles have won 10 of their last 14 against the Falcons, including seven of the last eight played in Philadelphia. The Eagles went 9-1 at Lincoln Financial Field last season, while the Falcons went a decent 5-3 on the road during the regular season.
It’s billed as one of the closest match-ups of Week 1 and the Eagles look strong value as a narrow favourite at home.
Tip: Eagles Win @ $1.84
History: Played 52: Saints 32 V Buccaneers 20
Last meeting: December 31, 2017: Buccaneers 31 d Saints 24 at Raymond James Stadium
Final Thoughts: The New Orleans Saints – tipped as one of the season’s dark horses – will be looking to make an early statement in this all-NFC South affair.
The Saints topped the division last year before being tipped out in the Divisional Playoff Round. The 5-11 Buccaneers were bottom of NFC South by a big margin, while they are without suspended quarterback Jameis Winston for the opening rounds of this season.
The Saints have won 10 of their last 13 against the Bucs, but Tampa Bay pulled off a 31-24 home win last season with a final-quarter surge. Seven of their last eight encounters were decided by seven points or less.
Drew Brees should lead the Saints to a sizeable home win here.
History: Played 10: Patriots 9 V Texans 1
Last meeting: September 24, 2017: Patriots 36 d Texans 33 at Gillette Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Houston Texans line up for their 2018 season opener looking to overcome a long losing streak against the NFL’s preeminent force. The Patriots have won seven straight against the Texans, including a 36-33 thriller last season via a late Brandin Cooks touchdown.
The Texans went just 4-12 last season but are being spruiked as a threat in the AFC South with quarterback DeShaun Watson fit and firing again.
The presence of Tom Brady ensures the Pats are a warm favourite virtually every time they run out, but with star receiver Julian Edelman suspended for the opening four weeks they are more vulnerable than usual.
The Texans shapes as a strong option with the start but we’re liking the overs with six of the teams’ last eight encounters producing 50-plus points.
Tip: Over 50.5 @ $1.87
History: Played 46: 49ers 23 V Vikings 22 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: September 14, 2015: 49ers 20 d Vikings 3 at Levi’s Stadium
Final Thoughts: No doubt still bristling from their defeat in last season’s NFC Championship Game, the Minnesota Vikings will want to hit the ground running at home against a San Francisco 49ers side on the improve.
The Vikings have won five of their last seven against the 49ers, but the 49ers scored a 20-3 home win early last season on the back of a pair of Carlos Hyde TDs. The 49ers are searching for their first win in Minneapolis since 1992.
The individual match-up between the Vikings’ new shot-caller, ex-Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, and Jimmy Garropolo, who has been handed the keys of the 49ers’ offence, is arguably the most intriguing of Week 1.
The 49ers were rocked midweek by the season-ending injury suffered by running back Jerrick McKinnon, however, and this road trip might be a bit too tough for coach Kyle Shanahan’s charges.
History: Played 116: Chargers 60 V Chiefs 55 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: December 16, 2017: Chiefs 30 d Chargers 13 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Kansas City Chiefs are on an eight-match winning streak against the LA Chargers, including a 30-13 drubbing in Kansas City last season, and they’ll be out to continue it in a vital AFC West showdown.
The 10-6 Chiefs led the division last year, but the Chargers loom as a major threat to KC doing it again.
The Chiefs let Alex Smith go and will have Patrick Mahmoes in the QB hot-seat – and the offence is expected to take some time to adjust. Phillip Rivers helms the more-than-capable Chargers offence, but their D – conceding the third-least points in the league last season – is their bedrock.
The Chargers finished 2017 on a five-game winning streak at home and are a great bet in this one.
History: Played 13: Cowboys 9 V Panthers 4
Last meeting: November 26, 2015: Panthers 33 d Cowboys 14 at AT&T Stadium
Final Thoughts: Two teams at a crossroads get the chance to make the ideal start to 2018.
Cam Newton is under the pump to deliver for the Carolina Panthers after losing ground on his MVP status in the past couple of seasons. For the Cowboys, the loss of No.1 target Dez Bryant is counterbalanced by Ezekiel Elliott’s return.
The Cowboys have won five of their last six against the Panthers, but the Panthers won the most recent encounter back in 2015. The Cowboys boast a 4-1 record in Charlotte.
One of the toughest games to call in Week 1, but we’re leaning towards Dallas with the start in what’s destined to be a cliff-hanger.
History: Played 55: Broncos 34 V Seahawks 21
Last meeting: September 21, 2014: Seahawks 26 d Broncos 20 (OT) at CenturyLink Field
Final Thoughts: The Denver Broncos are coming off a dismal 5-11 season and have pinned their hopes on recruiting QB Case Keenum, but their leaky defence needs just as much improvement if they’re to contend for the playoffs.
The Seattle Seahawks went 9-7 in 2017 but their prospects of returning to the post-season aren’t great with the ‘Legion of Boom’ now a distant memory, which is likely to negate anything Russell Wilson is able to do on offence.
The Seahawks have won three of their last four against the Broncos – including the 43-8 Super Bowl demolition in 2014.
Lean towards the Broncos at home but the unders may be the better value play here.
History: Played 13: Raiders 8 V Rams 5
Last meeting: November 30, 2014: Rams 52 d Raiders 0 at Edward Jones Dome
Final Thoughts: The LA Rams are looking to build on their NFC West-topping 11-5 campaign last year, and first up they meet an Oakland Raiders side that has undergone massive change after going 6-10 in 2017.
John Gruden is back as Raiders head coach, while Jordy Nelson comes in as a replacement for wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and disgruntled defensive stud Khalil Mack was traded a week out from the start of the season.
The Rams bolstered their offence with Brandin Cooks, while Ndamukong Suh headlines a defensive spending spree.
Handling the pressure of being labelled a Super Bowl smoky this early will be a challenge for the Rams, but they’ve been dealt a good hand facing a Raiders outfit in a bit of flux heading into their 2018 campaign.