Looking Ahead: Week 1 AFC Odds
The AFC schedule gets a head start on the NFC when the NFL season officially opens on September 10. With the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the healthy New England Patriots, the explosive San Diego Chargers, and the steady Indianapolis Colts all calling the conference home, it would seem that the next Super Bowl winner will come out of the AFC.
All of those teams begin their path to greatness in Week 1, with two of those franchises headlining a Monday night doubleheader.
The Steelers begin their title defense against one of last season’s biggest surprises. The Titans won 13 games last year, including a Week 16 victory over Pittsburgh at home. Tennessee won that game with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth on the sidelines due to injury.
Now Haynesworth has followed his wallet to Washington, leaving the Titans’ defense with a gaping hole in the middle of the line. Tennessee turns to DT Jason Jones and the rest of the line to make up for the loss of Haynesworth.
On offense, both teams will depend on the run to set up any passing plays. The Steelers’ traditional ground-and-pound offense struggled last season due to injuries to running back Willie Parker and backup Rashard Mendenhall. With both back at 100 percent, Pittsburgh should get back to business on the ground.
The Titans have one of the most dynamic rushing tandems in the NFL. Chris Johnson and LenDale White smashed and dashed for 94 yards per game last year, and have slick Michigan State product Javon Ringer backing them up.
There are a lot of changes in the Colts organization this year, but the one constant is Peyton Manning. As long as No. 18 is behind center, Indianapolis has a shot at the Super Bowl.
The biggest concern for Colts backers heading into the first week of the season and the remainder of the schedule is the health of those players around Manning.
With Marvin Harrison out of the picture, receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Anthony Gonzalez are Manning’s favorite targets. But besides those two sets of hands, the Colts’ receiving corps is wafer thin – as is the rushing attack. Running back Joseph Addai is made out of tissue paper and played in just 12 games in 2008, finishing with 544 yards on the ground.
But as long as everyone makes it through training camp, the Colts should cruise to at least a seven-point win over a Jaguars team coming off a house-cleaning offseason.
Get your popcorn ready – this season’s initial Monday Night Football game has more storylines than a Dan Brown novel.
Everyone and their dog will be watching Tom Brady take his first snaps since having his knee destroyed in last year’s season opener. And, like any good defense, the Bills will test that surgically-repaired knee by keeping Brady on the run. As long as Brady hasn’t lost his football smarts, New England should exploit the blitz and score at will with the weapons they have.
Overshadowed in this Monday nighter is the debut of Terrell Owens in a Buffalo uniform. The brash wideout is no stranger to the big stage and would love nothing more than to steal the spotlight away from Brady. Owens still has the tools to do so, and goes up against a weak Patriots secondary.
Much like Brady, only scarier, Monday Night Football’s second game features the return of Shawne Merriman to the San Diego Chargers.
The All-Pro linebacker missed all but one game last season while recovering from knee surgery. Reports out of Bolts camp is that Merriman is itching for that first real hit of the year.
Merriman’s return boosts a defense which allowed 350 yards per game and ranked dead last in passing defense last season. San Diego needs more from defensive back Antonio Cromartie, who was terrible in 2008, and another solid season from Quentin Jammer.
Oakland will test the Chargers’ secondary with its group of young receivers. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell could be singing for his supper in the first few weeks of the season; if he doesn’t play up to the team’s lofty expectations, veteran arm Jeff Garcia will replace the former No. 1 overall pick.
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|Thursday, September 10, 2009 (Eastern Time)|
|8:30PM||451||Tennessee Titans||+4½ -110|
|452||Pittsburgh Steelers||-4½ -110|
|Sunday, September 13, 2009 (Eastern Time)||BookMaker|
|1:00PM||453||Miami Dolphins||+4 -110|
|454||Atlanta Falcons||-4 -110|
|1:00PM||455||Kansas City Chiefs||+9 -110|
|456||Baltimore Ravens||-9 -110|
|1:00PM||457||Philadelphia Eagles||+1 -110|
|458||Carolina Panthers||-1 -110|
|1:00PM||459||Denver Broncos||+3 -125|
|460||Cincinnati Bengals||-3 +105|
|1:00PM||461||Minnesota Vikings||-3 -105|
|462||Cleveland Browns||+3 -115|
|1:00PM||463||New York Jets||+4 -110|
|464||Houston Texans||-4 -110|
|1:00PM||465||Jacksonville Jaguars||+6½ -110|
|466||Indianapolis Colts||-6½ -110|
|1:00PM||467||Detroit Lions||+11½ -110|
|468||New Orleans Saints||-11½ -110|
|1:00PM||469||Dallas Cowboys||-3 -115|
|470||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+3 -105|
|4:15PM||471||San Francisco 49ers||+6½ -110|
|472||Arizona Cardinals||-6½ -110|
|4:15PM||473||Washington Redskins||+6 -110|
|474||New York Giants||-6 -110|
|4:15PM||475||St. Louis Rams||+7 -110|
|476||Seattle Seahawks||-7 -110|
|8:20PM||477||Chicago Bears||+3 -110|
|478||Green Bay Packers||-3 -110|