Yesterday, the NFL released its schedule for the season for all 32 teams competing to land the Super Bowl in February 2022. From the current Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, down to the team that finished 32nd, the Jacksonville Jaguars, every team now knows its schedule for the regular season.

This season, we have teams playing 17 regular season games, one more than in previous seasons, which means that the regular season will run into January. The Playoffs begin on the 15th January and run until the 30th January with the Super Bowl set to take place on 13th February 2022.

The NFL will return to London in 2021 with two games confirmed as being between the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons and also a Floridian match up as the Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the Miami Dolphins. This will allow UK fans to get a glimpse of the first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jags Trevor Lawrence and the Jets Zach Wilson.

Focus now shifts to the first competitive games of the season starting on Friday 10th September UK time on what is the first game of Matchday 1 of the regular season. Bet365 Sport has already put together its preliminary odds for these games and we are going to take a look at each game and give you our pick (and the best bet) for each.

Don’t forget too that you can also pick up great value betting if you are based in the United States on these games and a good place to start is with BetRivers PA, a very popular sportsbook that operates in other states as well as Pennsylvania and which also has excellent betting available on the NFL.

Let’s now preview this first matchday of games in the NFL and give you our early pre-season picks for each.

All kick off times shown are GMT.

Friday 10th September (1.20am)

  • Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dak Prescott takes on Tom Brady in a quarterback shootout to start the season in Tampa Bay. This should be a cracking game, but for me the Bucs look likely to be real contenders once again this season, while I am not sure Dallas has made enough progress to do likewise. Take the Buccaneers to cover the -6.5 handicap on the spread at 10/11.

Sunday 12th September (6.00pm)

  • Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans

Arizona have made some solid moves in the draft and pre-season so far and I expect them to be contenders once again in a very tough division. The Titans improved at Corner, but their pass rush still looks weak and that could cost them here, even with a powerful offense. This will be a close one but back the Cardinals at 6/5 on the moneyline.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

Will DeShaun Watson be in Houston, if he is, will he be able to play given the court cases being lined up against him? That seems unlikely to be truthful and I think Urban Meyer’s Jaguars under Trevor Lawrence at quarterback can land an opening day win here. Take the Jags on the moneyline at 10/13.

  • Los Angeles Chargers @ Washington Football Team

This is one of the more even games of the weekend as the Chargers, who have made major improvements over the course of the off-season and in the draft. Washington I think still have a top ranking defense, but their offense is not convincing me as yet. As such, I think the Chargers land a close one so back them to cover the -1.0 on the spread at 10/11.

  • Minnesota Vikings @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Vikings look set to make a playoff charge this season, but I feel this season may be a year or two too soon for the Bengals and their new look offense. I think the future is brighter in Cincy, but the Vikings are too strong and I expect them to win here. Take the Vikings to cover the -3.0 on the spread bet at 10/11.

  • New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers

I like the way both these teams have been rebuilding in the off-season and New York’sBet365 NFL American football appointment of Robert Saleh looks a good one. However, I feel the Panthers are a couple of steps ahead of the Jets in their rebuilding programme and as such, I feel they are the team to back here. Take Carolina to cover the -4.0 on the spread bet at 10/11.

  • Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons

I’m not convinced by either of these teams just yet. I like what the Falcons did with their fourth pick in the draft, Kyle Pitts will be a huge upgrade at Tight End, and I think they are the team to back here as I am not sure if the Eagles have improved any from last season and may have, in effect, got worse. Take the Falcons to win and cover the -3.5 spread bet at 10/11.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills

Two teams that for me, are heading in different directions. The Steelers I feel are on the slide and did little to arrest that in the pre-season. The Bills are on the up and I think enhanced their chances of a very good season with the moves they made. For me, this is a no-brainer, take Buffalo to land the win and cover the -6.0 spread at 10/11.

  • Seattle Seahawks @ Indianapolis Colts

This could well be one of the closer games of the opening weekend. Both teams should be playoff contenders but I think in terms of styles, the Colts have the edge on defense, while the Seahawks have the same on offense. With home advantage, I’m taking the Colts here at 20/29 on the moneyline.

  • San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions

Will it be Zach Wilson or Jimmy Garoppolo under center for the 49ers? Whoever it is, they should get the better of a Lions team that is rebuilding after shipping their quarterback to Los Angeles Rams and who I think are in for a season of pain and the first pick in next year’s draft. Back the 49ers to win here at 4/17.

Sunday 12th September (9.25pm)

Baker Mayfield will take on Patrick Mahomes in a fantastic opening game to kick start the season between two AFC teams that should be playoff contenders at the very least. We could see a real shootout here and while I am backing the Chiefs to win (5/13 on the moneyline), I think the Browns will be a real force to contend with this season.

  • Denver Broncos @ New York Giants

The return of Von Miller and Saquon Barkley for both these teams will be a big boost to them but I still think these are two flawed franchises. The Broncos lack a leading quarterback, the Giants have holes in a number of positions. That said, I still feel the Broncos are the better team and as such, I’d take them to win here and cover the -1.0 on the spread bet at 10/11.

  • Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints

There’s one thing that determines who wins this game for me. If Aaron Rodgers is not at quarterback for this game, the Saints win. If he is, the Packers win. It is that simple for me. My money is on Rodgers not being under center for this game but with this not being known at present, I’d hang fire on placing a bet on this game until such a time as Rodgers future is sorted.

  • Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots

There’s been a major overhaul of playing staff in New England but I can’t see how that makes them a powerhouse once again in the AFC East. The Dolphins on the other hand have made some very astute moves in the free agency and draft and I think they can cause an upset here. Take the Dolphins to win at 11/10 on the moneyline.

Monday 13th September (1.20am)

  • Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams

Both these teams should have a strong chance of the playoffs post-season and as such I am surprised at the strong odds for the Rams here. I think the Bears are much better than +7 against a Rams side that often flattered to deceive last season. With that, I’d be tempted to back the Bears here on the moneyline with that +7.0 handicap in their favour.

Tuesday 14th September (1.15am)

  • Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Raiders

I’m not sure what Mike Mayock and John Gruden’s strategy was in the Raiders draft but I can’t see them improving their team a great deal. On the other hand, I think the Ravens have done precisely that and I expect them to be a real force in the AFC this season. Take the Ravens to cover that -4.5 handicap at 10/11,

*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of Thursday 13th May 2021.