Four tough starts NFL bettors should keep an eye on in 2015


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Momentum can mean everything in sports, even in a week-to-week schedule like the NFL. Getting off on the right foot can boost player confidence and propel a team to a successful season. And stumbling out of the gate can magnify issues and break a team before they have a chance to gel.

Here’s a look at the four toughest starting schedules (first four games) for the 2015 NFL season, and the odds for those games.

TOUGHEST STARTS

San Francisco 49ers

Week 1: vs. Minnesota (-3)
Week 2: at Pittsburgh (+4.5)
Week 3: at Arizona (+2.5)
Week 4: vs. Green Bay (+4)

If things weren’t bad enough for the Niners during the offseason, the schedule makers take no pity on San Francisco with this opening slate of games. The 49ers host the Vikings and the return of Adrian Peterson on Monday Night Football in Week 1 before a cross-country hike to Pittsburgh in Week 2. Then they go back West to face divisional rival Arizona before hosting the Packers in Week 4. Early action has already faded San Francisco and lines could move even further by the quarter mark of the campaign.

Kansas City Chiefs

Week 1: at Houston (+1.5)
Week 2: vs. Denver (Pick)
Week 3: at Green Bay (+6.5)
Week 4: at Cincinnati (+3)

The Chiefs could be betting underdogs in each of their first four games this season, with money expected to side with the Broncos for that Thursday Night Football matchup in Week 2. That rivalry game with the Broncos is the only home stop on the schedule for the first four weeks for Kansas City, which finished 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS away from Arrowhead in 2014. The Chiefs did, however, go 6-2 ATS as an underdogs last year.

Detroit Lions

Week 1: at San Diego (+1.5)
Week 2: at Minnesota (Pick)
Week 3: vs. Denver (Pick)
Week 4 (Monday Night): at Seattle (+7.5)

The Lions are another team playing a road-heavy sked to kick off the season. Detroit opens in San Diego in Week 1 and goes to rival Minnesota the next week. The defense gets a test against Peyton Manning & Co. at home in Week 3 before closing out this nasty stretch with a date against the infamous 12th Man in Seattle. Detroit was just 2-6 ATS on the road last season and is an NFL-worst 18-27-4 ATS away from Motown since 2009.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 1: vs. Carolina (+4)
Week 2: vs. Miami (+4)
Week 3: at New England (+11.5)
Week 4: at Indianapolis (+10.5)

If the Jaguars are going to improve in 2015, they’ll have to prove that they’re not the same old crap in the first four weeks. Jacksonville opens against Carolina and Cam Newton in Week 1, then faces Florida rival Miami in Week 2 – both as a home pup. The schedule takes a turn for the worse in Week 3 with a trip to play the defending Super Bowl champs, and then the team the Patriots defeated (cheated?) in the AFC Championship, the Colts in Week 4. Depending on how the first two games go, those massive spreads in Weeks 3 and 4 could climb even higher if the Jags don’t show some fight early on.

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