So, have you stopped cursing Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Josh Scobee yet? Scobee, acquired last month in a trade with Jacksonville after the Steelers lost two other kickers to major injury, missed two field goals in Thursday night's NFL Kickoff Game against New England. The Patriots won 28-21. The total in that was 51, and the "over" was taking a huge lean. All Scobee has to do is hit one of those, and presuming all else remained the same obviously the "over" hits. The books had to love that. The Steelers' last-minute touchdown also made the game a push if you gave the 7 points, which is where it closed most everywhere. So a rather unsatisfying opening to the season!
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Each week during this season, I will provide you on either Friday or Saturday with a last-minute primer on the Sunday (and Monday) games. Such things as injury updates or any line movements from their open on Monday. I'll try and explain why that was the case. Week 1 is a bit different, however, because most books have had lines up for weeks if not months.
And I can tell you that the sportsbooks have just about no clue what's going to happen this week. Why do I think that? There are a crazy eight home underdogs. That's ties for the most in Week 1in 20 years. It's usually profitable betting on home dogs, so it should be an interesting weekend.
Packers at Bears (+7): Chicago is the biggest home dog on the board, and this has jumped from an opening of 5. Clearly bettors don't care that the Packers lost No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson to a season-ending injury. The Bears might not have their No. 1, Alshon Jeffery, due to a calf injury that kept him out all preseason. He was limited again in practice Friday -- he hasn't gone full-bore in more than a month -- and is questionable. I don't see him playing. Bears also without their best defensive lineman in the suspended Jay Ratliff.
Titans at Buccaneers (-3): This line has stayed steady. Normally a game you might ignore between 2-14 teams from last season. But it's the first time in NFL history that quarterbacks drafted No. 1, Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston, and No. 2 overall, Tennessee's Marcus Mariota, meet in opener of their rookie seasons. Winston's college career ended in a Rose Bowl loss last season to Mariota's Ducks. Key injury here is to excellent Bucs second-year receiver Mike Evans. He might be a game-time call with a hamstring injury, but Evans thinks he plays, and so do I.
Dolphins at Redskins (+3.5): This was 1.5 back when everyone thought Robert Griffin III was going to be Washington's quarterback. It's now 3.5 with Kirk Cousins as the starter -- RGIII was cleared Friday from his concussion, so he will be active on Sunday. It's still not clear as of this writing whether RGIII or Colt McCoy is the backup to Cousins. Unbelievably, it might be McCoy. Amazing how far Griffin has fallen. By the way, the Fins are taking the biggest lean of any team on Sunday. Would Dan Snyder fire Coach Jay Gruden if the Redskins lose something like 45-0 this week? Not sure what the record for earliest NFL firing is.
Colts at Bills (+2.5): This number has jumped from a point its opening. The key injury to note here is to Buffalo's big offseason acquisition, running back LeSean McCoy. He probably leads the NFL in carries this season the way new head coach Rex Ryan likes to pound the ball. McCoy didn't play at all this preseason with a hamstring injury, but Ryan calls him "100 percent good to go."
Lions at Chargers (-3): This line has risen two points, which I'm moderately surprised about. True, the Lions are usually a vastly worse club on the road than at Ford Field. But the Bolts will not have suspended star tight end Antonio Gates. And now his replacement, Ladarius Green, is out with a concussion. Two good-looking running backs in this one in the Chargers' Melvin Gordon and Lions' Ameer Abdullah. The last time they shared a field, Nov. 15, 2014, Wisconsin's Gordon set the FBS record of 408 rushing yards against Abdullah's Nebraska squad, although Gordon's mark would be broken a week later.
Chiefs at Texans (-1): This line has stayed pretty steady, although the total has dropped from 42 to 40.5. Does the preseason matter? The Chiefs were the NFL's only unbeaten team in games that don't matter. Kansas City saw the return of excellent defensive tackle Dontari Poe to practice this week. He had surgery on July 15 to have a herniated disk removed from his back and hadn't practiced in full since. It looks as if Poe will play but will be on a snap count. Poe, a two-time Pro Bowler, is one of the best run-stoppers in the NFL -- while adding 6.0 sacks last year -- and Houston led the league in rushing attempts in 2014. But that was largely with Arian Foster, who is out at least the first few games of this season.
Vikings at 49ers (+2.5): No line has moved more than this one, as it started with the 49ers at -4. Remember, though, that was months ago before the likes of Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Chris Borland retired, and Aldon Smith was released; Smith signed with Oakland on Friday, incidentally. This defense is a shell of the one it was in 2014 now. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could have a huge night on Monday as he returns from his nearly season-long suspension. He didn't play at all this preseason, but he never does.
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