The 2017 NFL season begins much like 2016 ended: With the New England Patriots as favorites.
While the Pats opened as seven-point favorites for Thursday night’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, the line has continually moved in the direction of the defending champs, who are now favored by close to double-digits as we approach kick off.
Here’s a complete look at the odds and betting info, courtesy of OddsShark:
Spread: Patriots (-9.5)
Moneyline: Chiefs (+375); Patriots (-550)
Though Julian Edelman was lost for the year in the preseason, Tom Brady still enters with an abundance of offensive weapons around him.
Rob Gronkowski, the league’s most dangerous tight end, is back healthy. Brandin Cooks, fresh off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons before the age of 24, has been brought in to help stretch defenses. Chris Hogan tied for the league lead in yards per reception last year and looks capable of taking on a bigger role. Mike Gillislee, James White, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis give the Patriots a four-headed monster at running back and a variety of different ways they can attack teams out of the backfield.
The Chiefs have one of the best defenses in the league, but they face a difficult battle in this one. And they’ll have to do it at Gillette, where the Patriots have lost three times over the last three years with Tom Brady under center.
On the other side of the field, it’s unlikely the Chiefs have enough offensive firepower to turn this thing into a shootout. The first-team passing offense looked a little shaky during the preseason–though it’s important not to read too much into the preseason–and the running game will mostly lean on rookie Kareem Hunt, who is undoubtedly talented but still lacks experience.
In many cases, you might think the defending champs could face an early-season hangover. But Bill Belichick has been here four times before, so there’s no need to worry about that. He’ll have his team ready, and when the league’s best mind gets multiple weeks to prepare for a game, you can’t bet against him.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Chiefs 21