NFL Week 1 Best Bets

Want to make some money in Week 1 of the NFL? Then put some cash down on the Arizona Cardinals to cover versus the St. Louis Rams. No, really.

The Cardinals may be a team in transition, but at least they are not a team bound for the basement like St. Louis. Derek Anderson may not be the bettors' choice for quarterbacks to lay their money on, but he's still got a decent offense around him with Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower, and Beanie Wells.

While fully 73% of bettors were backing the home underdog Rams as of Saturday, this is another cause for alarm for anyone betting on St. Louis at +4. When 'squares' or recreational bettors are on an underdog, it almost never works out.

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Critics of our Week 1 top NFL pick point to the fact St. Louis was competitive in almost every game in 2009 and that the rebuilding effort is going well under the Gateway Arch. Critics also feel They may not even have to be that good to outscore a Rams offense led by rookie QB Sam Bradford and including the likes of underachiever Mark Clayton, untested Laurent Robinson, and their only true star Steven Jackson.

We didn't even mention the Rams' horrendous defense that gave up the second-most points in the NFL last season. The Cardinals are only facing a 4-point spread at most books on Sunday. They've won their last seven games versus the Rams while going 5-2 ATS and they haven't lost in St. Louis since 2004.

Once you see the Rams' trends you'll be racing to get your money on the Cardinals. The Rams have lost 13 straight at home while going 6-7 ATS. They're also a pitiful 1-9-1 ATS in their last 11 season openers.


Another surefire Sportsbook for bettors this weekend should be the Chicago Bears. Like the Cardinals, the Bears draw a substandard opponent in the Lions as a 6.5-point home favorite. [Matchup Reports on Every Game + Betting Trends ]

Do you know the last time the Lions won a game on the road? 2007! Detroit has dropped 20 straight on the road while going 7-11-2 ATS. They lost four in a row overall versus Chicago and have only one win in their last five visits to Soldier Field. Jay Cutler is looking for a bounce-back season after a disappointing first year in Chicago and what better place to start than against Detroit, who had the worst defense in the league last season.

Ndamukong Suh may be good, but he won't turn around the Lions' defense in one year. Last season Chicago pounded Detroit 48-24 and 37-23. Against the Lions last season Cutler completed 62 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, and most importantly he had zero interceptions.

If Cutler can tear apart the Lions again the Chicago defense, with newly-acquired Julius Peppers, should do the rest. Week 1 in the NFL isn't all about picking on the dregs of the league. There are also some top-notch matchups that won't be as easy for bettors to figure out.

Here are our Top 5 Sunday games and a few notes on what to watch for in each of them:

Indianapolis at Houston (+2) – Division rivals meet to start the season with Houston looking for only their second ever win against the Colts. Indy may be 15-1 lifetime against Houston, but they're only 7-9 ATS. With two high-powered offenses and a total set at 48 this could be a shootout.

Atlanta at Pittsburgh (+2) – This game makes the list because of Pittsburgh's QB situation. Will Dennis Dixon be able to fill Ben Roethlisberger's shoes while Big Ben sits out the first four games?

Cincinnati at New England (-4.5) – Fresh off a car accident and a fat new contract extension Tom Brady leads New England against the Bengals. The Ochocinco/Owens experiment begins for Cincy. How long before the lab explodes?

Green Bay at Philadelphia (+3) – Kevin Kolb begins his tenure as starting QB in Philadelphia. Maybe he can ask Aaron Rodgers for some tips on replacing a long-time starter?

Dallas at Washington (+3.5) – This always-interesting divisional rivalry should have even more drama this time with Donovan McNabb set to make his Redskins debut. It's also Mike Shanahan's debut as head coach, which so far has been a rocky campaign - at least if your name is Albert Haynesworth.