Steelers open NFL season favorites

Apr 18, 2009 8:17 PM
by Mark Mayer | John Madden may be out, but opening week lines are in five months early for the NFL season. The Las Vegas Hilton has made the Super Bowl champion Steelers a 5-point favorite over the Tennessee Titans in the 2009-10 season opener Thursday, Sept. 10 at Pittsburgh.

There are four road favorites in that first week. Denver with new QB Kyle Orton replacing Jay Cutler is a 3-point chalk at Cincinnati, Minnesota is a 3-point favorite at Cleveland and Dallas is a 3-point choice over Tampa Bay in Sunday action. San Diego is a prohibitive 7-point favorite at Oakland in one of two Monday night games on the card.

The largest margins on opening week are New Orleans an 11-point favorite over the visiting Detroit Lions, who went winless last season and New England with Tom Brady a 9½-point home chalk against Buffalo in the other Monday night game. The Patriots are currently 9-2 favorites to win the Super Bowl with Pittsburgh and the NY Giants next best at 10-1.

Among the top Sunday matchups are Cutler’s new team the Chicago Bears a 3-point underdog at Green Bay, Super Bowl runnerup Arizona a 7-point home favorite against San Francisco and the 2008 champ Giants a 6-point home favorite over Washington in a replay of last year’s season opener at the Meadowlands won by New York, 16-7.

For all the ballyhoo about the NFL in Las Vegas, the opening lines at this time of the year serve mostly as a conversation piece.

"It gives books like the Hilton publicity, which is fine," said Sid Diamond, columnist for GamingToday and past race and sports manager at the Excalibur. "Opening game lines and futures are interesting, but they really get no play and shouldn’t. Why would anyone want to bet now when injuries later on can change everything?

Of the 16 opening lines, Diamond liked Chicago’s matchup at Green Bay. "I think Cutler and the Bears are going to come out with fire in their eyes," he said. "But, I’m not making a wager until the gun goes off."

Here are the opening lines at the Hilton for Week 1.

Thursday, Sept. 10

Tennessee +5 at Pittsburgh (36)

Sunday, Sept. 13

Miami +4 at Atlanta (43½)

Kansas City +7 at Baltimore (38)

Philadelphia +3 at Carolina (44½)

Denver -3 at Cincinnati (44½)

Minnesota -3 at Cleveland (41)

NY Jets +3½ at Houston (44½)

Jacksonville +7½ at Indianapolis (44½)

Detroit +11 at New Orleans (48½)

Dallas -3 at Tampa Bay (42½)

San Francisco +7 at Arizona (47)

Washington +6 at NY Giants (40)

St. Louis +7 at Seattle (43½)

Chicago +3 at Green Bay (43½)

Monday, Sept. 14

Buffalo +9½ at New England (46½)

San Diego -7 at Oakland (43½)