NFL Odds – Who Will Get the Week 1 Start?

The third week of the NFL preseason often serves as your best look at what each team will look like when the regular season starts. The starters generally play somewhere around half of the game, and coaches actually prepare a game plan for the team they will be playing. So prepare yourself for a great weekend of football.

Teams already have a good idea of who they’ll start at most positions, but several players who began camp with an uphill battle have impressed, while others who were atop the depth chart have struggled. To go along with that, some assumed starters are dealing with injuries and find their Week 1 statuses up in the air.

As we eagerly await the arrival of real football on September 8, I wanted to take a look at some of the higher profile positions that are still up for grabs and set the odds of who will be filling these spots come Week 1.


Week 1 Starter Odds

1. Broncos’ Quarterback

By Keith Allison (flickr)
By Keith Allison (flickr)

From the time Brock Osweiler left, the Broncos have been resolute (at least publicly) in their confidence in seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. Apparently, they weren’t just saying that, as Siemian started in Week 2 and is getting the nod in their Week 3 matchup with the Rams.

Siemian has proved to be the safest option of the three for the Broncos, which is what they covet the most in a quarterback. Denver showed last year that it only needs their QB to protect the ball and not take sacks. The second-year pro has thrown one interception this preseason, but that accounts for his only turnover and he has yet to be sacked.

On the other hand, Sanchez has proven (again) that he is very turnover-prone. The “Sanchize” has completed 66.7-percent of his passes this preseason, including a deep touchdown pass in Week 1, but has also thrown an interception, fumbled twice, and been sacked three times. That’s the kind of inconsistent play the Broncos don’t want to deal with, and I’m sure Sanchez has received that message.

The final option, rookie Paxton Lynch, has played well in his first preseason, completing 63.6-percent of his passes and rallying the team late in Week 2 with two touchdown passes to get them back into the game. His lone interception came in the dying minutes of the game as he desperately tried to push the ball down the field, and it was actually a well-placed ball that one of Denver’s starting receivers would have caught.

However, the Broncos do not want to rush their first-round pick into action, and Trevor Siemian’s reliable play is helping Denver to stay patient.

Odds to start in Week 1

Trevor Siemian: 3/7
Mark Sanchez: 4/1
Paxton Lynch: 9/1

2. 49ers’ Quarterback

Regardless of how big a lead Blaine Gabbert has in this race, the fact that Chip Kelly has yet to name a starting quarterback says a lot.

Gabbert has only completed ten of his 19 pass attempts (52.6-percent) for 132 yards and a touchdown. He hasn’t turned the ball over, nor has he been sacked, but (unlike the Broncos), Kelly isn’t looking for just a safe option; he needs a game-changer at pivot, and Gabbert has not shown that to this point.

Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played yet, but that could be a blessing in disguise, and he remains in the race to start Week 1. It’s Kaepernick’s cannon of an arm and threat as a rusher that is keeping this competition alive. Kelly’s offense seems to be a perfect fit for what Kaepernick can do, while masking the many flaws that he showed in a more traditional offense last season.

If neither player impresses in the final games of the preseason, don’t be completely shocked to see Week 2 standout Christian Ponder given an opportunity at the helm. I doubt it will be as early as Week 1.

Odds to start in Week 1

Blaine Gabbert: 3/4
Colin Kaepernick: 3/2
Christian Ponder: 33/1

3. Browns’ Quarterback/RGIII

This one’s not a question anymore as long as RGIII is healthy. The former second-overall pick has done everything necessary to win the starting job for the Browns. Griffin is 10/16 for 163, two touchdowns, and an interception in the first two preseason games; he has also chipped in with 36 rushing yards on four carries.

On top of his solid play, it just wouldn’t make any sense for the Browns to start anyone else. Worst case scenario: Griffin proves he isn’t a good starting quarterback, and the Browns continue being the Browns. Best case: the young quarterback recaptures his rookie form, and the Browns finally have an answer at quarterback.

Not only will Griffin be out there Week 1, but he’ll continue to be given the opportunity to prove himself, as long as he’s healthy.

Odds to start in Week 1

RGIII: 1/25 (a.k.a. odds RGIII gets injured again before Week 1)

4. Chiefs’ Safety/Eric Berry

This one isn’t a battle. It’s a holdout. But unlike a holdout that we are going to address a little later, Eric Berry is a proven star in this league. The safety has been to four Pro Bowls and been named a First-Team All-Pro twice in his six-year career.

Berry does not wish to play under the franchise tag and is seeking a long-term deal from the Chiefs. I’m expecting talks to begin heating up with the regular season drawing near. This year provides Kansas City with their best chance of winning the AFC West in ages, and the Chiefs can’t afford to enter the season without Berry, especially since they’ll already be missing Justin Houston.

Once the two sides agree, Berry will be right back where he belongs, in the starting 11.

Odds to start in Week 1

Eric Berry: 2/5

5. Dolphins’ RB/Arian Foster

By AJ Guel (flickr)
By AJ Guel (flickr)

We spent much of the offseason debating which team would take a chance on Arian Foster in, as his time with Houston had come to an end. In mid-July, we got our answer: the Miami Dolphins.

Foster came in to compete for the starting job with second-year back Jay Ajayi after Lamar Miller left for Houston in free agency. Ajayi toted the rock 49 times in his rookie campaign, but only amassed 187 yards and one touchdown on those touches. Foster is a former rushing champion, has never rushed for less than 1,200 yards in a season (when he plays in more than eight games), and possesses a career 4.5 yards-per-carry average.

The former Texan had his 2015 cut short by an Achilles injury, but claims to be back to full health, and could be a needed play-maker in a Dolphin offense that was terrible last season. Although Ajayi has taken the bulk of the first-team reps thus far, the Dolphins have made it clear that they want to see Foster in action during Week 3.

This may turn into a split-carries situation, but Foster is the likely option to walk out on the field first.

Odds to start in Week 1

Arian Foster: 5/8

6. Seahawks’ RB/Thomas Rawls

The Seahawks drafted Rawls in 2015 to be Marshawn Lynch’s eventual replacement, and with Beast Mode announcing his retirement in the offseason, that time is now.

As a rookie, Rawls was putting together quite the season filling in for an oft-injured Lynch, averaging 5.6 yards per carry en route to 830 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. Unfortunately, Rawls’ rookie season was ended prematurely with an ankle injury, the same injury that’s prevented him from suiting up in the preseason. However, head coach Pete Carroll is confident his second-year running back will be ready for the season opener.

After Rawls went down last season, the Seahawks were forced to turn to Christine Michael, a third-year pro who’d failed to live up to expectations so far. In his second stint with Seattle, which only saw him play in three games, Michael rushed for 192 yards on 39 carries. Heading into his fourth season in the league, Michael looks better than ever, averaging 5.8 yards per carry in preseason action.

The Seahawks appear to be siding with Rawls as the starter, but will he be ready?

Odds to start in Week 1

Thomas Rawls: 4/5

7. Rams’ QB/Jared Goff

By Praveer Sharma (flickr)
By Praveer Sharma (flickr)

Not only has Jared Goff struggled this preseason, but he’s been outplayed by both Case Keenum and Sean Mannion.

Goff has gone 12/21 for 120 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his first two preseason games. Those stats are good for a measly 69.5 passer rating. Making matters worse, he is the only Rams quarterback who has been sacked to this point – he’s taken three of them.

Both of the other two quarterbacks have completed more than 70-percent of their passes and have passer ratings north of 109.

The first-overall pick has not looked comfortable under center, and throwing him into the fire right away seems like it would only be detrimental to his development. Plus, Keenum has actually looked pretty good. Hard as it is to believe after what we saw last year, he gives the Rams the best opportunity to win now, something Jeff Fisher needs to do in order to keep his job.

Goff will start the season on the bench, but should get to start a few games down the stretch if/when the Rams playoff hopes are crushed.

Odds to start in Week 1

Jared Goff: 9/1

8. Cowboys QB/Dak Prescott

Ok, this one’s not a real battle. Tony Romo is the starter as long as he’s healthy. But I can’t help jumping on the Dak train just for a second. Through the first two preseason games, Prescott was the proud owner of a perfect passer rating (158.3) and has been the center of attention throughout. His impressive preseason gives the Cowboys something they didn’t have last year – confidence in their backup. Given how often Romo gets injured, that’s crucial.

Odds to start in Week 1

Dak Prescott: 25/1 (a.k.a. odds Romo gets injured again before Week 1)

9. Chargers’ OLB/Joey Bosa

Man, this is getting ugly.

First, the Chargers took to the media to inform the football world just how ridiculous this standoff has become. In response, Bosa’s representatives are making it very clear that they do not believe the Chargers are offering them a fair deal.

As we near the end of preseason, Bosa has missed a ton of time he should have spent learning new systems and practicing against other professional football players. With no end in sight to this contract dispute, it would be shocking if the two were able to agree on a deal before their last preseason game. Even if they get one done tomorrow (unlikely), that might not be soon enough for Bosa to be ready for Week 1.

Odds to start in Week 1

Joey Bosa: 18/1


Photo Credit: Erik Drost (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Perry

Perry is a regular contributor to MTS and a die-hard Broncos fan. Yes, he does remember the five Super Bowl losses, but likely remembers all your teams shortcomings, too. Consider yourself warned. Though his love for the Broncos may seem unconditional, Mr. Port never mixes his emotions with gambling.