NFL Picks: Early Week 1 Bets

The NFL season starts three weeks from tonight but lines for Week 1 were available hours after the NFL schedule was released in April. Here are five games that interest me the most, including four where I endorse a bet at the current number:

Titans PK vs Raiders

I’ll be fading the Raiders as much as I can and I’m high on the Titans. Maybe not as high as some but I think this is a perfect spot for Tennessee who catch the Raiders playing at 10 Pacific Time. The Titans also have revenge on their mind from a narrow loss to the Raiders last season. Look for the Tennessee offense to expose Oakland’s defense.

Buccaneers PK at Dolphins

Take this number now because it will continue to move. It looks like the Buccaneers will end up going off as a favorite by kickoff. Miami hardly has a home field advantage and I think it will take Cutler some time to get used to his new home. Tampa Bay impressed last year in Week 1 by beating the Falcons in Atlanta and I expect another strong start for Dirk Koetter’s team.

Chargers +3.5 at Broncos

I explained why I like the Chargers and why I’m looking to bet against the Broncos in my season win totals article. It’s convenient they play each other in Week 1. The bad news is people will learn how good the Chargers will be this season since this is a national TV game and we won’t get much value on them going forward.

Under 47.5 in Eagles-Redskins

Last year these two teams played in Landover and the total closed at 45. It barely went over but the Eagles scored a special teams and defensive touchdown to help the game go past the total. Now the total is higher but it’s falling a little bit, so take this as soon as possible. I think the Redskins offense will sputter early with a new offensive coordinator. On the other side, I’ll trust that Jim Schwartz’s defense will be ready for the Redskins but can’t say the same about Doug Pederson and his offense. Division games tend to be tighter and low-scoring, and think this total is set too high.

Cowboys (if it gets to -2.5 or less) vs Giants

When Ezekiel Elliott was given a six-game suspension I immediately wondered how linemakers would react to the Cowboys Week 1 affair with the Giants. Obviously Elliott is a top running back but how much off a drop-off is a fresh Darren McFadden especially since Dak Prescott proved that Dallas has a very efficient passing game. The line ended up moving slightly after the Elliott announcement to keep this spread still over a field goal. I wouldn’t get involved yet but would love to take the Cowboys giving less than a field goal against a Giants team that has an aging quarterback and lackluster run game.

NFL Picks: 2017 Season Win Totals

It’s very hard to find value in the NFL betting market but one area to exploit is season win totals. Four teams popped out to me as confident plays and I saw four more that peaked my interest. Here they are starting with the Super Bowl runner-up:

Falcons under 9.5 wins (-105)

Super Bowl “hangovers” have been common lately where the loser of the big game in February doesn’t meet expectations the following year. The Carolina Panthers were the latest example after their season went off the rails early and they never were able to recover. I think the Falcons will follow their division counterparts especially after the painful way they lost last season’s Super Bowl. Despite being the main reason why Atlanta squandered a big Super Bowl lead, the Falcons will miss offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. In comes Steve Sarkisian who I have a lot of questions about. I believe the other three teams in the NFC South will be improved and could all compete for a division title, which will make it a challenge for the Falcons to reach double-digit wins.

Texans under 8.5 wins (-105)

A big part of the season win totals is perception of a team. The public thinks of the Texans as a playoff team that is a good quarterback away from making some noise in January. I think there are more issues than just quarterback with this Texans team, who were 24th in the NFL in point differential last season. They were hampered by Brock Osweiler and were without J.J. Watt for most of the season, but about everything else went right for Bill O’Brien’s squad. Their defense overachieved and one of the bright spots of that unit was cornerback A.J. Bouye, who departed to the Jaguars in the offseason. They got rid of Osweiler but I’m not convinced Tom Savage or rookie DeShaun Watson will have enough success to hide the flaws on this team. The main reason I feel comfortable with under 8.5 wins is Houston only being a four-point favorite at home against Jacksonville in Week 1. That indicates the Texans are only a point or two better than the Jaguars, who have a win total currently at 6.5.

Chargers over 7.5 wins (-150)

I mentioned a few teams that I think will negatively regress. Now here’s a team that I think will positively regress and exceed expectations. Even thought they had a losing record the Chargers were one of my favorite teams last season and I felt they were undervalued due to the amount of injuries on their roster. I think Philip Rivers is an above average quarterback who has a variety of weapons. The underrated part of their team is the defense, who have a strong pass rush led by Joey Bosa and two great cornerbacks. I like that they have a new coach in Anthony Lynn because he can’t be worse than Mike McCoy and his in-game mistakes. I can see the other three teams in the division being down and think the new team in Los Angeles will benefit.

Raiders under 9.5 wins (-110)

Staying in the AFC West but back to an under of a team that I think will regress. This is my favorite season win total play and was thrilled when I saw this at 9.5 because I think 8.5 wins would be more appropriate for this team. The reason for the inflated number could be because the Raiders are back to being a public side and now they are Las Vegas’ team. There were countless games last year where they needed everything to go right to win, and I think Jack Del Rio and his risky decisions won’t work with the same success this year. I love that Oakland is a popular over play and Super Bowl bet because it’s common for the preseason darlings to disappoint in the NFL.

Here are four more teams that barely missed the cut as a season win total play but I will be looking to play on or against these teams early in the season:

Broncos: I really question the Broncos, who are lined at 8.5 wins, quarterback situation and running game. They did bring in a new coaching staff but I think their defense will miss Wade Phillips.

Chiefs: The win total for Kansas City is nine and I have a hard time seeing the Chiefs win 10 games again with Alex Smith under center. They rely too much on having an edge in the turnover battle and special teams success for them to sustain winning seasons. I’m going to look to fade Kansas City in games where they are a favorite.

Dolphins: This team won 10 games last year despite having a negative point differential. Now they are lined at 7.5 wins and if this ever got to eight wins I would be much more interested in the under. I think Jay Cutler will be fine but the defense is a huge concern.

Rams: This is the one team I would consider over at 5.5 wins and will look to back them early in the season. Wade Phillips left the Broncos for the Rams and I think he can turn the pieces on the defensive side of the ball into a very strong unit. I also like that Phillips can mentor 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay, who is clearly a bright offensive mind. Really anything is better than Jeff Fisher so I can see the Rams being an under-the-radar covering machine.