by Kevin Stott | Sept. 7 means different things to different people. To grandchildren it’s Grandparents Day. To Kiwis (New Zealanders) and Aussies it means Father’s Day. But to the American male, age 8 to 88, Sept. 7 means the first Sunday of NFL. And that’s become a pretty religious day in this culture of fantasy football, office pools, gamblers and good, old-fashioned professional football fans.
Here’s a look at five games from that opening Sunday with early lines courtesy of Arizona Charlie’s. And remember Foghorn Leghorn ("Doo-DAH! Doo-DAH!"), it’s the early bird that gets the worm.
Sunday, Sept. 7
Texans at Steelers (-6, 43): The Steel Curtain is closing again (269 points against in 2007, No. 2 in NFL) and at Heinz Field in the opener, expect a tight, low-scoring battle with a Texans team looking to make some noise in 2008. Pittsburgh was 5-3 ATS at home last season. The total is 43½ at the LVH’s SuperBook if you want that extra half-point. UNDER.
Jaguars at Titans (+3, 37): The line here reveals that Jacksonville is more respected in the AFC South, and with three wins in Nashville in the last four trips. The Jaguars were an impressive 11-5 ATS last year while the Titans were 7-8. JAGUARS.
Bucs at Saints (-3½, 43): Big NFC South battle in the Big Easy on Opening Day! TB has covered four straight at the Superdome and is 5-1 ATS against the Saints who went 2-6 against the number at home in 2008. The Bucs could win this one outright. BUCS.
Cowboys at Browns (+3, 49): Donte Stallworth makes his Browns’ debut in what may well be the best game of the day. Tony Romo and Derek Anderson will definitely be pass happy here and you know the Dawg Pound will be barking at Dallas all day long. Cleveland finished 12-4 ATS last season and went a very impressive 7-1 ATS at Cleveland Browns Stadium in 2007 as well as 2-1 ATS as a home dog. BROWNS.
Bears at Colts (-9½, 44½): If Lovie is happy with what he has at QB, RB and WR, then it’s only a matter of time before he and Sexy Rexy (QB Grossman) go the way of the 41-cent postage stamp. Manning may be recovering still but Peyton could toss passes from a wheelchair and beat Da Bears in this Super Bowl XLI rematch. Harrison, Wayne and Addai are just too much. Indy was 5-3 ATS at the RCA Dome last season. COLTS.
Monday, Sept. 8
Broncos at Raiders (+1½, 41) (MNF, ESPN): Eternally optimistic Raiders fans optimistic again with Russell, McFadden and Walker but these new parts are still unproven on NFL level. Oakland’s losing streak (17 straight games) in AFC West has been broken but ugly trends still remain for the Silver and Black. The Broncos were 3-5 ATS as underdogs last season while the Raiders were 6-10 ATS. Fade them. BRONCOS.