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NFL Week 1 Preview: Gruden’s Raiders return and new-look Browns

Dave Burin | 5 September 2018

Odds and key storylines as NFL 2018 begins

The new NFL season kicks off on Friday night, as Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles face 2016 finalists Atlanta Falcons in a heavyweight clash.

That’s just the start of a blockbuster weekend of action to begin NFL 2018. And ahead of the weekend’s showdowns, the Coral News Team look at the big talking points – and odds – on the key clashes.

All eyes on Oakland for Gruden’s return

After 10 years away from the NFL, Jon Gruden’s appointment as Oakland Raiders’ head coach in the off-season caught many by surprise.

Admittedly, he has run a ‘think-tank’ for former coaches and provided regular analysis on ESPN, but that’s a very different task to front-line coaching.

And after a decade away from the job, his return to the game – and to a Raiders side he coached from 1998-2001 – looks to be a significant gamble.

Head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their only ever Super Bowl triumph, Gruden has built a career on building defensively solid sides. Oakland fans will hope results trump glamour this year. They’re 19/10 for victory against the Los Angeles Rams this weekend.

Can new-look Browns cause Steelers problems?

After seven consecutive rock-bottom finishes in the AFC North, things might finally be about to turn around for the beleaguered Cleveland Browns.

The Ohio franchise had two of the first four picks in the 2018 Draft, including the first call.

Head coach Hue Jackson appears to have made savvy calls in recruiting powerful Quarterback Baker Mayfield (out of Oklahoma State) and lightning-quick Cornerback Denzel Ward.

With little expected of the Browns again this year, there’s no real risk in Jackson trying to blood the young guns from the off.

And the unknown qualities of those guys – and powerful round two pick Austin Corbett – could make them a tough test for Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend.

Ahead of this clash, the Browns are 7/4 for an opening-weekend win.

Can Titans start strong in all-Florida clash?

Last season saw a number of surprises in the Playoffs. Not least was the inclusion of Tennessee Titans for the first time in nine years, as they reached the AFC Divisional games.

However, the off-season has seen Mike Vrabel replace the experienced Mike Mullarkey as coach. So many are intrigued to see whether the Titans will contend again this year.

The summer recruitment has been decent. Marcus Mariota finally has some competition at QB in the shape of Blaine Gabbert, while new running back Dion Lewis is a former Super Bowl winner with New England Patriots.

However, the question remains over how much Mullarkey’s direction will be missed.

Some of that may be answered on their visit to Miami Dolphins this weekend. It’s 5/6 for a Titans triumph, while the visitors would make a statement if they pull off the -4.0 handicap at 6/4.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing