Week 1 NFL action has the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Carolina Panthers. Kickoff is set for 4:25 EST on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium and will be televised locally on FOX.

Oddsmakers currently have Carolina listed as a 6-point road favorite with the total sitting at 48 points. All the early action has been on the Panthers, as this line originally opened at 4.5. Click here for a full list of the Week 1 and more game previews.

Panthers vs 49ers NFL Game Preview & Vegas Betting Odds

Carolina comes in off a disastrous campaign in 2016, which saw them go just 6-10 and end up in the basement of the NFC South. Not exactly what fans were expecting to see after the Panthers had gone 15-1 and made it to the Super Bowl the previous season.
A less than 100% Cam Newton at quarterback and a struggling secondary played a big role in Carolina’s downfall. Newton is back healthy and they made some moves in the offseason that has some calling for them to take back the top spot in the South.

San Francisco went into last season with low expectations and didn’t disappointment. The 49ers finished a mere 2-14 and that was with an upset win in Week 1. They didn’t win again until Week 16 as fans had to endure a 13-game losing streak.

The off the field drama that came with Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel for the anthem couldn’t have helped matters. While there’s still questions at quarterback, there’s a new sense of optimism with new head coach Kyle Shanahan, who orchestrated the Falcons top tier offense last season.

Free NFL Betting Pick & Prediction: Panthers -6

I don’t love betting on big road favorites early in the year, but I would have to lean towards Carolina winning this game by at least a touchdown. I’m one of those that think the Panthers are going to return to playing at an elite level like we saw in 2015. As for the 49ers, they should see some improvement, but are zero threat at making the playoffs.

Click on the link for more free NFL picks against the spread and total.

I know the public is going to be on Carolina here, simply because they like to bet against bad teams. However, I don’t think this is a game all of the average Joe’s are lining up to play. There’s still a lot of time left, so be sure to jump on this one now if you like it. I could see it getting up to 7 closer to game time.

I just don’t get the sense that people remember how good this offense was in 2015. They finally got all their weapons at receiver and I absolutely loved their selection of Christian McCaffrey. He makes this offense that much harder to prepare for and he’s going to help out in field position.

Defensively the Panthers rolled the dice and lost when they let star corner Josh Norman go prior to last season. Not only did it leave them depleted at the position, I don’t think it sat well with the guys in the locker room. That’s now old news and I look for this defense to return to the dominant form of years past.

San Francisco is as big as question mark as you have going into Week 1. It’s hard telling just what to expect from this team. Do I think Shanahan has the offense playing at a higher level than last year? Of course. It won’t be hard. The 49ers ranked 31st with a mere 308.1 yards/game and 27th in scoring at 19.3 ppg. Shanahan can only do so much with the weapons he has at his disposal.

I’m willing to gamble San Francisco struggles to keep pace with Newton and company in this one. The 49ers were just 2-6 ATS at home last year.