By Lucas Kochevar
Week one of the NFL season feels like Christmas with an early gift yesterday between the Lions and Chiefs. Travis Kelce was ruled out hours before gametime and it proved to be a big loss for the Chiefs, who had several drops from their receivers down the stretch. Although people will talk about how the Chiefs lost the game, the Lions did everything to deserve the win yesterday. The Lions offense moved well most of the game and it was clear the connection between Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown is strong. The Lions defense also held up most of the game with the improved secondary and Aidan Hutchinson causing the tackles trouble all night. There's been a lot of optimism with the Lions since their winning stretch last season and it might have been justified after last nights huge win. In this edition of LK League Notes, I'll be previewing some of my favorite games of week one and my NFL bet of the week!
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) @ Cleveland Browns
This game is intriguing to me in many ways. First off, I love the AFC North and this is our first peek at the division this season. It should be hard-nosed, entertaining football. Joe Burrow tends to struggle at Cleveland so that could make this a close game. Secondly, we have the intrigue of what this Browns squad will look like. I mentioned in my preview on this division that the Browns could be the best team and they have the potential to win the North. It'll be all up to Deshaun Watson. The star quarterback struggled coming back late last season and the reviews haven't been that great in this off-season. This will be the first time with him starting the season with the Browns and his offense is loaded with talent: Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper and an elite offensive line. It'll be up to Watson to get the most out of this team. Lastly, the Bengals are one of the most explosive offenses in the league with the trio of Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. It'll be a treat to see one of the best AFC teams take the field against a potential playoff contender. I'm excited for this one.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (-1)
The NFC North's two most iconic franchises meet once again for week one in a battle that could be the first of many. Justin Fields is entering his third season with the Bears and looks to make the leap and prove himself as the quarterback. Across the field, a young quarterback is also trying to prove himself. Jordan Love is entering his fourth season in the NFL and it's his first time as a true starter. Love has sat behind Aaron Rodgers for the past couple season and finally has his chance. The Packers have pedigree in finding franchise quarterbacks and it'll be very interesting whether or not Love follows that trajectory. This game will be a good litmus test for Love since the Bears defense isn't all that threatening. This will also be a good litmus test for Fields since the Packers defense is pretty good. Obviously there are more intriguing players outside of the quarterbacks, like D.J. Moore and Christian Watson, but the two young passers will be the story at the end of this one.
Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
If there was a game of "Guess the line!" I would have guaranteed that Miami was favored, however, Vegas disagrees. The Chargers are looking at a ton of pressure this season and this will be the first big test. They paid Justin Herbert, drafted a new receiver and hired a new offensive coordinator. Also with everyone coming back healthy, they should be in the running for a playoff spot. Outside of the Chargers, the Dolphins will also be hunting a playoff spot after a disappointing end to last season once quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hurt. Now with Tagovailoa healthy, the Dolphins look to make the jump to division winners. This game looks to be a track meet between two very talented teams and, once again, the quarterbacks will be at the center of it. With both guys being drafted back-to-back in the 2019 draft, they'll be linked forever and this will be a fun game to see after they've been in the league for a couple seasons. I'm excited to see two fast-paced offenses.
NFL Best Bet of the Week: Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5) vs San Francisco 49ers
The bet of the week for me goes to another game I'm excited to see the outcome of. The reason I love this bet, I think the Steelers can win this outright. Giving them 2.5 points is generous and I'll gladly take it. I think the Steelers will be a playoff team next season with their great coaching and an emerging Kenny Pickett. The 49ers are a Super Bowl contender, but I think they're coming back this season to a rocky start. Purdy played out of his mind down the stretch last season, but there was a reason he went in the seventh round last season. Don't get me wrong, he's good and I think he'll be productive, but a defense like the Steelers could give him fits. It also doesn't help that they have to travel from San Francisco to a hostile environment like Pittsburgh. This win will be more about the Steelers defense than anything, but I'm confident in them. Lets have a strong start to the season!
Sources: Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images