National Football League

5 best NFL bets: Week 1 lines, win total over/unders, MVP futures

May 14

By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst

Only the National Football League can dominate the sports betting conversation months before its regular season gets underway.

As reporters rifled out schedule leaks on Wednesday, bookmakers churned out betting lines on the fly for Week 1 (and other marquee games) all day long. By now, most American sportsbooks have spreads and totals posted for all 16 games of the NFL’s opening weekend.

That’s right – you can fire on a September football game in mid-May. Naturally, I am ready to make some bets. I don’t necessarily like tying up my money for four months, but in my world, it’s about making the right bet at the right price. 

I love two Week 1 sides, one total and two future bets. So let’s go to work (with all odds via FOX Bet).

Los Angeles Chargers -1.5 at Washington Football Team (at FOX Bet) 
Chargers to beat Washington by more than 1.5 points (2 points or more)

I’m high on the Chargers and low on the Football Team. That’s where this wager begins. 

This is also a point spread that I expect to move to Chargers -2.5 or -3 by kickoff, so I would implore you to get down now. Justin Herbert has a loaded playmaker room, and I loved L.A. drafting left tackle Rashawn Slater in the first round. That offense is going to hum this year.

Chicago Bears +7 at Los Angeles Rams (at FOX Bet)
Bears to lose by fewer than 7 points or win outright

Give me Justin Fields or give me death. 

There is absolutely no reason for Bears head coach Matt Nagy to start Andy Dalton in the season premiere of Sunday Night Football. Fields is a game-changer for Chicago, and he has reportedly already memorized the playbook. 

Although he will make mistakes early, Fields will also make more than enough plays to keep the Bears inside the number.

Jets-Panthers Under 43 total points scored (at FOX Bet)
Fewer than 43 combined total points scored

This one should be a good ol’ fashioned rock fight: punts, punts and more punts. 

Bookmakers knew what they were doing when they opened the total at 43 – which is purposely positioned just under the key number of 44 (which is a key number because 23-20 is one of the most common scores in the NFL). 

These defenses are better than people think, and I don’t like Zach Wilson or Sam Darnold to move the chains all that much. 20-17 sounds about right.

Los Angeles Chargers Over 9.5 wins (+120 at FOX Bet)
Chargers to win 10 or more games (bet $10 to win $12, plus your $10 back)

The lovefest for L.A. continues. 

This total opened at 9 wins, and I got invested right away. FOX Bet is now dealing O/U 9.5 with a nice plus-price on "Over," so I’ll double down. 

The Chiefs are the best team in the division, but the Chargers are coming. They have drafted incredibly well over the last three years, and the talent is ascending at the right time. Los Angeles knows they have to strike while Herbert is still on his rookie contract.

Justin Herbert MVP +2200 (at FOX Bet)
Herbert to win MVP (bet $10 to win $220, plus your $10 back)

Why not? Herbert exploded onto the scene last year by throwing for 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. His offense got better in the offseason; the Chargers bolstered their offensive line by drafting Slater, signing Corey Linsley and getting burner Josh Palmer out of Tennessee in the third round, which was a steal. And new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi spent his last five years designing plays with Sean Payton and Drew Brees. 

I’m really excited to see what Herbert can do with a better line, more weapons and more innovation. 

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Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He'll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.

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