The 2020 NFL season is finally upon us, and this year we’re going past your standard picks against the spread in this space to talk about teasers, an exotic bet sportsbooks offer. The way they work is simple: You move the line on two or more games a set number of points in whichever direction you want, but you don’t win your bet unless you hit all of the games in your teaser.

Let’s use the Thursday and Sunday night games as an example. The Chiefs are favored by nine points at home against the Texans, while the Cowboys are favored by three points on the road against the Rams. If I wanted to tease the two favorites together using a standard six points, the Chiefs would drop from -9 to -3, while the Cowboys would move from -3 to +3. If I wanted to tease the two home teams, I’d get the Chiefs -3 and the Rams +9 in my teaser.

Your payout depends on how many teams you tease, and how many points you use. Typically, you should be able to get -120 on a two-team, six-point teaser, and the price jumps 10 cents to -130 if you do a 6.5-point teaser with two teams. Seven-point teasers for two teams go for -140. Throw a third team into the mix and you’ll get plus odds, but you’ll also lower your chances of winning by a significant margin, since it only takes one miss to lose an entire teaser bet. I’d mostly limit teaser plays to two teams and six points.

The best teasing opportunities are what’s called “advantage” teasers, where you look for lines you can tease through both three and seven. For example, the Colts are eight-point favorites against the Jaguars, so if you throw them in your teaser, you go through key numbers of -7, -6, -4 and -3 numbers and land on Colts -2. On the flip side, you should avoid teasing through zero.

That’s the gist of teasing NFL games, but I’ve done the legwork of going through all the lines as of Tuesday night and identifying the best teasing opportunities. Below, I’ve ranked all the sides I think are in play for teasers this week. You can take the top two options and put them together for my Teaser of the Week. 

Ranking teaser options

1. Packers +8.5 at Vikings

These teams have basically been considered even all offseason, and with the line on their Week 1 game moving down a tick off three to Vikings -2.5, the Packers are my best teaser play to open the year. The Vikings lost a lot of key pieces during the offseason, and I don’t expect their passing offense to light up the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers should be motivated to prove his doubters wrong (even the ones in the building), and I like his odds of keeping the game close if the Packers are behind in the second half.

2. Broncos +8.5 vs. Titans

The Broncos were short favorites in this matchup for much of the offseason, but the line dropped to a pick ’em heading into this week before the news of Von Miller’s injury moved it even further to Titans -2.5. As great a player as Miller is, defensive players just shouldn’t be moving the line significantly. Throw in the homefield edge the Broncos have playing at home early in the season when conditioning plays an even bigger factor at altitude, and it seems unlikely Denver will lose by a large margin on Monday night.

3. Ravens -1.5 vs. Browns

I know the Browns upset the Ravens last year, but I’d be surprised if they’re firing on all cylinders in this matchup with a new coaching staff in place. The Ravens should be more of the same this year after posting the best record in the NFL last year, and they’ve typically come out firing in Week 1 in recent years.

4. Falcons +8 vs. Seahawks

I think the Falcons are underrated heading into the season, and I expect them to be competitive in this game with a Seahawks team that only won by more than eight points once last year. Like with our Packers pick, we get the benefit of backing an excellent quarterback on a great passing offense who can help rally us back to a win even if Atlanta is down double digits in the second half.

5. Steelers PK at Giants

This line was Steelers -3.5 for much of the offseason but has steamed up as bettors realize Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and the Giants are a mess, particularly on defense. If you don’t feel comfortable laying six points with the Steelers on the road in this matchup, they make for a great teaser option. In fact, I really like a Steelers-Broncos teaser on the Monday night slate.

6. Eagles PK vs. Washington

Are the Eagles going to lose to what should be one of the worst teams in the league in the opener? Washington did have the Eagles on the ropes in Week 1 last season, going up 17-0 early in Philadelphia before the Eagles went on a 32-3 run and almost covered the 10.5 if not for a Washington touchdown in the final seconds. I don’t see it happening this year with a new coaching staff and not much talent to speak of on Washington’s offense.

7. Bills -0.5 vs. Jets

I wanted to put this one higher, but we saw these two teams play a close, low-scoring game in Week 1 last year, and it wouldn’t be weird at all to see it again here. The lower the score is, the better chance the underdog has of pulling off an upset when points are at a premium. But the Bills are undoubtedly the better team in this matchup and should be able to ultimately get the win.

8. Colts -2 at Jaguars

I have no interest in backing the Colts as touchdown favorites or higher on the road until I know Philip Rivers has something left in the tank, even against the Jaguars. But teasing this one all the way down to Colts -2 should be a safe proposition.

9. Rams +9 vs. Cowboys

The Rams are seen as a team on the decline, but they’re the team in this matchup that finished with a winning record last year. Plus, the Cowboys are now dealing with questions on the offensive line with La’el Collins on the IR.

10. Bears +9 at Lions

This line has steamed toward Detroit as buzz has built for the Lions over the last few weeks for some reason, but Chicago should be considered at worst even with Detroit on a power rating basis. Forcing the Lions to win by double-digits feels safe for teasers with the Bears in them.

Lines to avoid teasing

Dolphins at Patriots (-6.5)

The Patriots feel like a decent teaser team down to -0.5, but I want to see how their offense looks before jumping on them. Plus, the Dolphins could be better than most people expect in their second year under Brian Flores.

Chargers (-3) at Bengals

I’m not looking to back Joe Burrow until we see what he has to offer at the NFL level, but the Bengals sure look tempting at +9 against a Chargers team that figure to run the ball a lot and limit possessions in lower-scoring games all year.

Cardinals at 49ers (-7)

These two teams played close matchups last year that could have went either way, so I’m not comfortable taking the 49ers down to -1. And if you buy into that logic, you should avoid teasing the Cardinals up and just take them with a straight bet at +7.

Raiders (-3) at Panthers

I have no interest in backing a Panthers team that could lose any game by double digits considering the youth movement they’ve employed on defense, and I’m not teasing the Raiders through zero.

Buccaneers at Saints (-3.5)

I’m not teasing the Saints through zero, and I want to see what Tom Brady has to offer on the Bucs before making a move here. If it takes time to gel, or even if he’s simply good and not great, the Saints could definitely walk away with a double-digit win.

Texans at Chiefs (-9)

Teasing the Texans up to +15 should be safe, but the Chiefs could score any amount of points in any matchup and it wouldn’t really shock anyone. Plus, most bettors likely aren’t looking to tease the Thursday game with something on Sunday or Monday.

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