NFL's toughest and easiest opening schedules
The 2013 NFL schedule is fresh out of the oven and football bettors are sizing up the skeds, looking for hidden value and hints into how the season will play out.
Getting off to a strong start is perhaps the most important task to teams. We broke down the schedule through the first three weeks to see which teams have the toughest and easiest opening slates:
Tough opening schedule
Tennessee Titans (+15,000 to win Super Bowl)
The Titans are at the bottom of the heap heading into the 2013 season and their first three games won’t do them any favors. Tennessee kicks off the season at Pittsburgh in Week 1, then travels to Houston – where it lost 38-14 last season – in Week 2.
The Titans open their home schedule against San Diego in Week 3, if there’s anything left of them after facing those two defenses. Running back Chris Johnson will face the No. 2, No. 7 and No. 9 rushing defenses before September’s even over. So much for all the rushing record chatter.
San Francisco 49ers (+700)
A Super Bowl hangover could be in the cards for the 49ers. San Francisco has one doozy of an opening sked, getting things started at home against a Packers team with revenge on its mind after the Niners knocked them out in the playoffs. Not only that but 12 of the last 13 Super Bowl losers have failed to cover in Week 1 the following season – New England snapped a 12-season skid versus Tennessee last year.
San Fran then travels to CenturyLink Field, where it lost 42-13 to the Seahawks last season. Seattle, the sharps offseason long shot to win the Super Bowl, will be out to claim a stake in the NFC West. The 49ers wrap up the first three weeks of the 2013 campaign versus an up-and-coming Indianapolis squad at home.
Green Bay Packers (+1,200)
As mentioned above, Green Bay will open its 2013 schedule in the Bay Area versus the NFC champions, the first of three straight contests against 2012 playoff teams – two of which are on the road. The Packers were among the best home teams last year, but went just 4-4 SU and ATS away from Lambeau Field.
The Cheese Heads are home against RG3 and the Redskins in Week 2 and travel to Cincinnati to play the dangerous Bengals in Week 3 before a bye week. Green Bay has the sixth toughest overall schedule and the fifth hardest road slate in the league.
Easiest opening schedules
New England Patriots (+700)
The Patriots got a gift from the schedule gods in the first three weeks of the season. New England owns the 14th-ranked strength of schedule, but should have plenty of momentum heading into a road trip to Atlanta in Week 4.
The Pats open the schedule at Buffalo, where they cracked the Bills in a 52-28 thrashing last fall. They return to Gillette Stadium for Week 2 and 3, playing the Jets and Buccaneers. New England will be focused on a strong start after starting last season 1-2, including an embarrassing loss to Arizona in Week 2.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+15,000)
The Jaguars need all the help they can get after finishing 2-14 SU and ATS last season. Jacksonville opens the 2013 schedule with two games against fellow basement teams, at home to Kansas City and on the road in Oakland. It’s not crazy to think the Jags could be 2-0 after the first two weeks.
Jacksonville’s schedule gets much tougher in Week 3, taking them to the NFL’s toughest stadium – CenturyLink Field in Seattle – to play the Seahawks. The Jaguars were a horrible home bet in 2012, going just 2-6 ATS, but managed to cash in as visitors with a 5-3 ATS road record.
Dallas Cowboys (+3,300)
The Cowboys 2013 calendar ranks as the eighth softest schedule in the NFL, thanks in part to a cupcake run in the first three weeks. Following a season-opening game with the New York Giants at home on Sunday Night Football , Dallas dials down the intensity in Weeks 2 and 3.
The Cowboys come to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Chiefs in Week 2 and return to Arlington to host the Rams in Week 3. While two home games may help Dallas jump out to a 3-0 start, America’s Team has been a terrible home bet, going just 1-7 ATS inside Jerry’s World last year.