After months of research and reading, I’m ready to reveal some of my NFL thoughts for the 2018 season. I’ll start with teams I’m looking to bet against early in the season. That can include under the season win total, bets against teams in individual regular season games or both. I also looked closely at the yes/no props to make the playoffs that are posted for each team, which is something new for me this season.
Before starting, I have a few things to say about the Buffalo Bills. I bet Bills under 6.5 wins in early July. The most popular win total bet I saw people talk about earlier this summer was Bills under 7 or 6.5 wins. Then LeSean McCoy was involved in domestic violence allegations and the win total went down to 6. I still think they go under 6 but understand if people want to stay away now that some of the value has been extracted. Everything lines up for the Bills to be an under team this season. They made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. They traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and signed A.J. McCarron and drafted Josh Allen. I’m not sold on McCarron as a NFL starter and Allen had accuracy concerns in college. The offensive weapons in Buffalo are limited and the defense benefitted from turnover luck last season. The Bills have road games against the Ravens, Vikings and Packers in September with a Week 2 home opener against the Chargers in between. If the Bills have a poor record to start the season, I’m guessing they’ll start Allen and become an even worse team. I can see the Bills finishing with the worst record in the NFL but they’re already being priced as one of the bottom teams in the league.
Jaguars- When looking to identify teams that I want to bet against, I tend to look at teams who greatly exceeded expectations the previous year. The Jacksonville Jaguars had a win total of 6.5 after winning three games in 2016. They won 10 games last season and now their win total has increased by 2.5 games to 9. Under 9 will be a bet for me. Jacksonville’s defense is an amazing unit but I don’t believe in Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette’s numbers were inflated by breaking off a few long runs. The Jaguars benefitted from Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck not starting against them in both games, and Texans and Colts will be a lot better than they were last season. I’m undecided if I want to bet against the Jaguars in Week 1, where they are a 3.5-point favorite at the New York Giants, but I’ll be looking to fade them in other spots early in the season.
Verdict: Jaguars under 9 is a strong bet and also betting against them in several early season games. Continue reading
Chiefs at Patriots (-4.5)
I think there is value in the Patriots with this line. A month ago they would be closer to a field goal favorite. New England had an extra week to get healthy, which includes star wide receiver Julian Edelman. I can see the Patriots taking an early lead and the Chiefs having to chase a lead. Alex Smith isn’t the quarterback you want when trying to close a deficit. The Chiefs looked great last week but they returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and took advantage of five Texans turnovers. The Chiefs might seem tempting but I’m not going to overthink this one. It’s Bill Belichick with a two weeks to prepare against Andy Reid. I’m going to side with the Patriots. Pick: Patriots (-4.5) over Chiefs
Stanford (-4.5) over USC: A lot has changed since these two teams met on September 19 in Week 3. Stanford entered the game 1-1 and beat USC straight up as a 10-point underdog. Since then Stanford flirted with a spot in the College Football Playoff but a loss to Oregon gives the Cardinal a slim chance to get a top four spot. USC has fired a coach and just permanently hired one since the Week 3 contest against Stanford. After beating UCLA, the Trojans took the interim label off Clay Helton’s title and he signed a five-year deal to be the school’s head coach. With Stanford having more to play for, I think they cover this number. Helton and USC will have one eye looking towards recruiting and might not be well prepared for this game.
Saints (+7) over Panthers: I made the point spread for this game Panthers -4. So I think there is some value in this line. New Orleans is a much better team at home and their defense has to be slightly better since Rob Ryan got fired. The Saints played the Panthers tough when the two teams met earlier this season and I think this will be another close one.
Rams (+6) over Cardinals: This is the classic take the Jeff Fisher team as an underdog in a division game. The Cardinals might be looking ahead to a Thursday night game at home against the Vikings. I think the Rams will be able to have success on the ground with Todd Gurley and cover this spread at home.
Giants (+2.5) over Jets: The Giants are technically the home team but you can throw out home field advantage here since the Jets play in the same stadium. I still don’t think the Jets are a better team than the Giants and not sure why they are favorites especially without Darrelle Revis. I think the Giants win straight up and put themselves in a strong position to win the NFC East.
Chiefs (-3) over Raiders: I usually don’t like taking away favorites but I think the red-hot Chiefs aren’t getting the respect they deserve in this line. Oakland has won five game but I don’t spot an impressive win on their schedule. The Chiefs are on a great winning and covering streak, and I’m going to take a shot at them doing it again.
Redskins (+1) over Saints
Dolphins (+6) over Eagles
Chiefs (+6) over Broncos
Here are my Week 14 NFL picks and the rest of the contest picks:
Ravens at Dolphins (-3)
My line: Dolphins -1.5
Steelers at Bengals (-3.5)
My line: Bengals -6.5
Colts (-4) at Browns
My line: Colts -2
Pick: Pass (Contest: Browns)
Ravens (-6) over Chargers: This line might be a little higher after Baltimore went into New Orleans and beat the Saints on Monday night. The short week isn’t an ideal situation for the Ravens but I think the win by double digits at home. The Chargers are 3-3 in their last six games and haven’t covered a spread. The Ravens are right in the AFC North race and face must-win games every week.
Bengals (-4) over Buccaneers: I think this line might be lower than I expected because the Bengals play the Steelers next week. However, Cincinnati can’t afford to look ahead as the Ravens, Steelers and Browns are right behind them in the division race. Tampa Bay is coming off a big game where they played Lovie Smith’s former team. Next week they travel to Detroit, which might also be an important game for Smith facing an old NFC North rival. The Bengals are a different team with a healthy Giovani Bernard along with Jeremy Hill and I think they win by a touchdown.
Saints (+4.5) over Steelers: The best thing for the Saints after three uncharacteristic home losses is to get away from New Orleans. I think they regroup especially with a division title to play for. I still think the Steelers can win this game but it will be by a field goal. Saints have played a lot of close games on the road where they just fell short.
Panthers (+3) over Vikings: The Vikings had a great effort against the Packers last week and I think they show up flat. The Panthers had a bye week to prepare and amazingly are still in the NFC South race. I think this will be a very low scoring game in Minnesota.
Broncos (-1.5) over Chiefs: The Chiefs have a great home field and this game is at night. I still think the Broncos should be the favorite in this game and the line should be closer to a field goal. Julius Thomas looks like he is coming back for Denver, which will cause matchup problems for the Chiefs defense. The inconsistent play from Kansas City receivers will catchup up to them and I think the Broncos win by at least three points.
I have mostly passed on making a pick for the Thursday night games this season. However, I see a great opportunity to make an official pick this week. The Chiefs travel to Oakland to face the winless Raiders. I like the Raiders against the spread in this game. Kansas City is coming off a big win at home against the Seahawks. Now they travel west on a short week. The week after Kansas City has an important AFC West game against Denver with a division lead possibly at stake. I think Kanas City might overlook Oakland despite having 10 days to prepare for the Broncos. With the spread over a touchdown, the Raiders are an official pick for Thursday.
Pick: Raiders (+7.5) over Chiefs