The 2021 NFL season kicks off this week, although many teams are already dealing with injuries that could affect Week 1 NFL bets. With several key players potentially out or limited this week, having a licensed physical therapist to interpret the NFL Week 1 injury reports will help you gain an advantage.
Below are the top NFL Week 1 injuries to consider when placing your Week 1 NFL bet picks:
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NFL Week 1 Injuries & Betting Tips
David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers (Torn ACL Rehab)
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints
David Bakhtiari is still recovering from a left ACL tear suffered prior to Week 17 last year. He was placed on the PUP list during roster cutdowns last week which means he can’t return until after Week 6 at the earliest, but that doesn’t mean he will return then as he will be only 10 months removed from surgery.
The loss of Bakhtiari significantly affected Aaron Rodgers last year, especially in the NFC Championship game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers blitzed him 23 times, resulting in 10 pressures and five sacks. I expect the New Orleans Saints to bring similar pressure from the edge and focus on LT Elgton Jenkins, but this could expose New Orleans’ linebackers and stress their secondary, allowing Green Bay’s potent offense to take advantage and move the ball downfield.
Even without Bakhtiari, the Packers should be able to keep the chains moving against the Saints’ solid defense, especially if Jameis Winston gives them good field position with an interception or two. Green Bay’s offensive firepower will be too much for New Orleans to overcome, and my Saints-Packers betting pick is for the Packers to cover the spread (-4) at BetMGM, which should already have Bakhtiari’s absence baked in.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (Neck Surgery)
Seattle Seahawks @ Indianapolis Colts
T.Y. Hilton is out for at least the next three weeks on injured reserve and potentially three months following last week’s procedure on his neck to address a disc issue. It isn’t clear what procedure he had, but it’s possible he required a cervical discectomy with fusion where the offending disc is removed and the two vertebrae are fused together, providing stability.
The loss of Hilton stresses an already depleted Indianapolis Colts offense dealing with QB Carson Wentz and G Quenton Nelson’s respective foot surgeries. Given Indy’s lack of experience and talent in the receiving corps, the Colts may have trouble sustaining drives against the Seattle Seahawks if they’re forced to lean on Jonathan Taylor and the run game. For my Seahawks-Colts betting pick, take the Seahawks at -2.5 and to cover the moneyline at BetMGM, especially since both lines could shift more towards Seattle as the game approaches.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (Calf Injury)
Denver Broncos @ New York Giants
Evan Engram injured his calf against the New England Patriots in the preseason and has been out since then, putting his status in doubt for Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Calf injuries can linger despite proper rehab due to the significant demands of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles when it comes to sprinting, jumping, and cutting — all essential movements for a tight end.
Engram also dealt with a calf injury late last year, although he didn’t miss any time and it’s not assumed that this is a recurrence of the same injury. I don’t believe Engram will play, but if he does he will likely be limited. With New York’s offense also dealing with injuries to Saquon Barkley (knee), Kenny Golladay (hamstring), and Kyle Rudolph (foot), my Broncos-Giants betting pick is taking Denver to cover the spread (-2.5) at BetMGM, which could tilt even more towards the Broncos if additional Giants are ruled out.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions (Groin Injury)
San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions
D’Andre Swift dealt with a groin injury that lasted the majority of training camp and prevented him from getting valuable reps during preseason games. While he’s expected to suit up for Week 1, a rusty Swift could have a hard time evading defenders and quickly changing direction to hit running holes.
The Detroit Lions host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 and are an underdog despite playing at home. With a new head coach, quarterback, and offensive coordinator, the Lions could struggle to gel offensively against a tough 49ers defense. I expect this game to be low-scoring regardless of how Swift performs, which is why my 49ers-Lions betting pick is to bet the Under on 46 total points at BetMGM.
Julio Jones & A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans (Knee Injury)
Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans
Julio Jones and A.J. Brown are working through knee injuries suffered during training camp. Jones has been out for the better portion of a month after an awkward fall in early August. Brown has been limited over the past two weeks, which is concerning as he dealt with two knee scopes in the offseason from injuries that he played through in 2020.
Both are slated to be ready for Week 1 as they host the Arizona Cardinals in what projects to be a high-scoring game between two powerful offenses. Assuming both are good to go, my Cardinals-Titans betting pick is to bet the Over at 51.5 at BetMGM. If they end up sitting for any reason, however, that could knock a couple of points off the total.
Marcus Peters & Gus Edwards, CB/RB, Baltimore Ravens (Torn ACL)
Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Raiders
The Ravens suffered a massive hit to both sides of the football in practice when Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters went down with non-contact ACL tears moments after each other. Both have been ruled out for the season but whether they have additional damage to their knees may impact their ability to fully return in 2022.
Early lines favored the Ravens but these injuries could shift the odds towards the Raiders. Ty’Son Williams is now the lead back despite never taking an NFL snap. Trenton Cannon, Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, and Devonta Freeman have been signed, but may not be ready. Anthony Averett replaces Peters, but I suspect that the Raiders will target him all game. Both injuries make the spread and Over/Under a risky bet. I’m sticking with my Ravens-Raiders betting pick Ravens moneyline (-190) at BetMGM before the lines move closer to kickoff.
- Read our full Week 1 Baltimore Ravens vs Las Vegas Raiders betting picks & tips.