The NFL kicked off on Thursday, and Week 1 action reaches a crescendo this Monday night. The Lions host the Jets at 7:10 p.m. EST. Then, the Rams host the Raiders in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m. For these games and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off. Things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 1 Monday Night Football Betting Breakdown
New York Jets (19) at Detroit Lions (26)
DraftKings Line: Lions -6.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
No team had worse odds to win the Super Bowl heading into the season than the Jets. After finishing the 2017-18 season 28th in yards per game and 26th in play volume, the Jets turn to rookie Sam Darnold at quarterback and new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.
Now, there are bound to be some growing pains with Darnold. He tossed 13 picks over his final 14 games at USC and is unlikely to find the same success in regular season action as he did during the NFL preseason.
The Lions were average in pass defense last year, but this is a plus draw for them at home. Top cornerback Darius Slay should hold Robby Anderson in check as Detroit benefits from the likely absence of Jermaine Kearse (abdomen). Isaiah Crowell should handle work on early downs with Bilal Powell mixing in on passing downs and potentially taking over if the game script turns negative for Gang Green. Kearse’s absence makes Terrelle Pryor a worthwhile punt play in DFS contests.
The reality is the Jets have few weapons to support Darnold against a decent Detroit defense. It allowed only nine passing TDs and recorded 17 sacks during eight home games last season. Taking the Lions to win by a touchdown seems risky because of their issues on offense, but going under the 45-point total does seem like a solid bet.
The Lions finally moved on from conservative HC Jim Caldwell and replaced him with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. If Patricia influences his offense to run more no-huddle like New England, Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate could have big nights against a Jets team that ranked 22nd in passing DVOA while allowing the second-most passing TDs (30) last season.
Then, the Jets pass defense took a small step forward in its second year under HC Todd Bowles. He loves a blitz-happy approach but doesn’t have the personnel necessary to execute that scheme well in New York. Detroit will feature a combination of Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount out of the backfield. Those backs may find good offensive line play lacking from a Lions team that ranked dead last in rushing YPG (76.3) last year. Johnson has generated buzz throughout the preseason but could lose passing work to Theo Riddick and goal-line work to Blount.
The best bet from Detroit’s roster in DFS contests should be Golden Tate. He’s a top-five receiver in YAC the past four seasons. The Jets ranked 28th in passing DVOA against top WRs last year and remain vulnerable in the slot. New acquisition Morris Claiborne should help with deep threats Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay, potentially helping to contain the passing game. That said, the Jets are on the road with a rookie QB to start the season. Give me the Lions laying the points. Perhaps the first leg of a teaser with the late game.
Los Angeles Rams (26) at Oakland Raiders (21.5)
DraftKings Line: Rams -4.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5
Even though the Rams led the NFL in PPG (29.9) during an impressive first campaign for offensive guru Sean McVay, the storyline heading into this season is their loaded defense.
With Ndamukong Suh joining the best DT in the NFL (Aaron Donald) on the defensive line, the Rams should shore up their weakness against opposing ground attacks. Ranked third in 2017 passing DVOA, they upgraded their secondary with two talented castoff cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
This is a huge mismatch for the Raiders offense on paper.
Derek Carr regressed badly in his fourth season. He remains an inefficient passer with limited mobility. The Rams D/ST has plenty of upside, especially with return specialist Pharoh Cooper capable of breaking a big play against the undisciplined Raiders special teams.
Carr will look towards an aging Jordy Nelson and inconsistent top WR in Amari Cooper. The Raiders may struggle to find balance with Marshawn Lynch (groin) banged up along with offensive tackle Donald Penn (foot).
Moreover, this is a mismatch for the Raiders defense, which allowed 350 YPG last year and just lost former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. Oakland ranked 30th in DVOA pass defense and recorded the eighth-fewest sacks (31) in the NFL last season even with Mack rushing off the edge.
Jared Goff should have plenty of time to find new weapon Brandin Cooks down the field, giving Cooks upside in GPP formats in one of the best matchups he’ll draw all season. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are both good bets for solid production, but the Rams offense will, of course, revolve around Todd Gurley.
Gurley set the league on fire last season behind an offensive line that created the second-most yards before contact. Now, it returns four of five starters. The MVP candidate is a virtual must-start in DFS contests and the primary reason to take the Rams (-4.5). This game has seen over 70% of both bets placed and money wagered landing on the Rams.