The 2021 NFL preseason is ramping up this weekend with a loaded schedule chock-full of exciting matchups. 20 teams are slated to make their preseason debuts on Saturday, with the 10-game slate beginning in the early afternoon. It all starts at 1 p.m. with a Dolphins vs. Bears battle and continues throughout the day, wrapping up at 10 p.m. when the latest chapter of the Chargers and Rams’ cross-town rivalry kicks off.
Preseason will look a bit different this year than it historically has, with 30 of the league’s teams participating in just three exhibition games before the 2021 campaign begins instead of the usual four. Considering the league opted to forego the preseason schedule entirely last year, this is still a welcome return to normalcy for NFL fans, even if the on-field action isn’t nearly as thrilling as the meaningful play that begins next month.
Viewers can ramp up the intensity of today’s contests by placing wagers down on the results. Sportsbooks have released betting odds for all of Saturday’s matchups, including the point spread, total and moneyline for each game.
Here are the results from Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason so far, as well as a viewing guide and odds for each remaining game on the schedule:
NFL Preseason Week 1 Schedule And Odds
All Times ET
Thursday, Aug. 12
New England Patriots 22 – Washington Football Team 13
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 – Philadelphia Eagles 16
Friday, Aug. 13
Tennessee Titans 23 – Atlanta Falcons 3
Buffalo Bills 16 – Detroit Lions 15
Arizona Cardinals 19 – Dallas Cowboys 16
Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears (-3, OU 36), 1 p.m., NFLN
Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings (+2.5, OU 34.5), 4 p.m., NFLN
New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, OU 36), 7 p.m.
Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3, OU 36.5), 7 p.m., NFLN
New York Jets at New York Giants (+2.5, OU 34), 7:30 p.m.
Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6, OU 33.5), 7:30 p.m.
Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers (-3, OU 35), 8 p.m.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5, OU 38), 8:30 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5, OU 37), 9 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (+3.5, OU 32.5), 10 p.m., NFLN
Sunday, Aug. 15
Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5, OU 34.5), 1 p.m., NFLN
NFL odds courtesy of FanDuel
Every out-of-market game during the 2021 NFL Preseason can be live streamed via NFL Game Pass
Many projected starters won’t see the field much this early in the preseason. Coaching staffs will be looking to evaluate the players on the fringes of their rosters before initial cuts are due in on August 17. Teams will need to slim down from 90 players to 85 players by Tuesday, then must release another five the following week. This leads up to finalized 53-man rosters, which are due in by August 31. With so much fat to trim within the next few weeks, don’t expect to see many meaningful snaps from notable players in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason.
Betting the preseason can be tricky due to this, but there are still ways to glean an edge during the exhibition slate.
Some coaches have shown a tendency to win preseason games quite consistently, a group that includes Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden (67% career preseason winning percentage) Baltimore’s John Harbaugh (76%) and Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer (80%).
Conversely, some of the league’s top coaches lose more than not when the results don’t matter, a group that includes New Orleans’ Sean Payton (48% career preseason winning percentage), Tampa Bay’s Bruce Arians (48%) and Kansas City’s Andy Reid (46%). It’s worth noting that Harbaugh’s Ravens will meet Payton’s Saints this evening, a game in which Baltimore is laying 2.5 points in at home.
Other factors also come into play when handicapping the NFL preseason, including the amount of key positional battles a team needs untangle at the time. Some squads, such as the Broncos, are still trying to figure out who will serve as the team’s No. 1 quarterback this year. Because of this uncertainty, both Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock are likely to see extended action throughout the preseason.
The Vikings, the opponent that Denver faces this afternoon, already have Kirk Cousins locked in as their QB1, opening the door for their less proven throwers to earn a hefty share of the preseason work. Minnesota will likely limit Cousins’ exposure to injury and instead give guys like Jake Browning, Nate Stanley, Kellen Mond and Danny Etling opportunities to distinguish themselves as the QB2. Denver will be the side allocating far more snaps to quality quarterbacks in the contest, so it should hardly come as a surprise that the club is favored by 2.5 points today.
Preseason matchups often see betting lines that would look vastly different if the teams clashed during the regular season. One example of this is Saturday’s Packers vs. Texans matchup, a showdown that bookmakers are favoring Green Bay by only three points in.
While the Packers—who would be a double-digit favorite against Houston during the regular season—boast a deep and veteran-laden roster, many of their established stars will only play a handful of snaps, if they even see the field at all. The Texans have perhaps the most turbulent roster in the NFL right now and lack proven starters at a myriad of positions, but could keep this one close or even outright win due to the need to evaluate talent for their first- and second-string units.
NFL Preseason Week 1 Picks
Ravens (-2.5) over Saints
Broncos (-2.5) over Vikings
Texans (+3) over Packers