New England has won 10 straight season openers, but covered the spread in only half of those victories.
So there is some hesitation in betting circles as the Patriots visit Miami in an AFC East showdown while favored by five points.
Reading the betting trends report feels like a roller coaster ride. The Dolphins are just 3-7-1 ATS in their past 11 openers but they are profitable (5-1-1 ATS past seven) as a home underdog.
The Patriots have won seven of eight from the Dolphins and are 23-6 SU in 29 recent divisional games, but they have stumbled on their way to the payout window as a road favorite (1-5 ATS past six times).
For what its worth, the Odds Shark prediction computer says the Pats will win 27-20 and they are confident enough in the pick to make it one of their five top picks in the prestigious Vegas SuperContest.
The early games feature three other divisional clashes with the Steelers favored at home to the Browns (looking to extend their 25-3 SU mark against Cleveland), the Ravens hosting the Bengals in the AFC North (with the Ravens riding a 28-2 SU streak as home favorites) and Atlanta hosting the Saints in an NFC South battle (where the Saints have beaten the Falcons 13 of 16 meetings).
Dallas hosts the 49ers in one afternoon game while Tampa Bay faces NFC South rival Carolina in the other.
The favored Buccaneers (-2) will have a new leader on the sidelines this year in head coach Lovie Smith, who sat out one season after he was fired by the Chicago Bears following nine seasons there.
Smith hopes to bring a different attitude to Tampa Bay, where he previously spent five years as linebackers coach under head coach Tony Dungy. The Bucs ended last season dropping three games in a row both straight-up and against the spread along with four of five.
Meanwhile, the Panthers will have a slightly different look on offense without their top receivers from a year ago. That could make things difficult for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who is dealing with a rib injury and will be tested away from home, where his team is 7-1 against the spread the last eight times as a road underdog, according to NFLOnlineBetting.com.
In addition, the Panthers have won eight of their past 11 trips to Tampa, and they are 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 divisional games. However, they have also lost five straight season openers and are 2-9 ATS in their past 11.
The Sunday Night game features Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck with the host Broncos favored by nine points as of press time Thursday.