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.
Redskins (+1) over Saints
Dolphins (+6) over Eagles
Chiefs (+6) over Broncos
Rams (+1) over Steelers: I think the wrong team is the favorite in this game. The Steelers are coming off a blowout victory against the 49ers but the result is misleading. The 49ers were coming off a Monday night game and had to make the long trip to Pittsburgh on a short week. The Rams had a letdown against the Redskins after beating the Seahawks in Week 1. I think the Rams bounce back and we are getting some value after their poor performance against the Redskins. The Steelers play the Ravens on Thursday night in Week 4 so this is a lookahead game for them.
Eagles (+1.5) over Jets: Another game where we can take advantage of overreaction. The Eagles are 0-2 and their offense is struggling. The Jets are coming off a big Monday win at the Colts. Coming back on a short week is a tough spot for New York. The Eagles would the favorite in this game if they won one of their first two games and I think now is the perfect time to buy low on Chip Kelly’s team.
Ravens (-2.5) over Bengals: This game is the season for the Ravens. They started 0-2 after falling to two AFC West opponents. Despite the two road defeats I think Baltimore still has a great chance of making the playoffs but they have to win this game. The Bengals might be a little better than the Ravens but considering home field and the situation, I think the Ravens cover.
Bills (+3) over Dolphins: The Bills were getting too much respect last week and closed as a favorite against the Patriots. They got in a shootout with the Patriots, and this Bills team won’t win games playing high-scoring games. They need to run the ball and play well on defense, which is what they did against the Colts in Week 1. There was a lot of preseason hype surrounding the Dolphins this preseason but they have not been impressive in games over the Redskins and Jaguars. I see this being a low-scoring game and the Bills winning straight up.
Lions (+3) over Broncos: Another situation where I will back a 0-2 team that needs to win. The Lions are a much better team at home and the building will be rocking on a Sunday night. Despite winning and covering in the first two games, I have not been impressed with Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. If Denver loses to Kansas City then this line is probably closer to a pick ’em. I’ll take my chances with the Lions.
Chargers (+1.5) over 49ers: The 49ers have nothing to play for and Jim Harbaugh has one foot out the door in San Francisco. The 49ers also played the Seahawks last week and teams struggle the week after playing Seattle. The Chargers need this game to stay in the playoff race.
Vikings (+7) over Dolphins: The Dolphins aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but they are pretty much done. Their coach also might be fired and the Vikings have been a covering machine.
Raiders (+7) over Bills: The Bills had a huge home win against Green Bay, and have held Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers without a touchdown pass the last two games. However, the offense has been terrible and their touchdown last week was a special teams score. The Raiders have shown up the last two times at home and won. I think they will cover this number and possibly spoil the Bills’ postseason chances.
Bengals (+3.5) over Broncos: The Broncos are winning games but something is wrong with Peyton Manning. It looks like Denver is locked into the No. 2 seed so I don’t think they will give a maximum effort on the road. The Bengals are in a must-win situation and I think they will be able to run with rookie running back Jeremy Hill. A successful running game will keep the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands, which would be ideal for Cincinnati in primetime.
Redskins (+8) over Eagles
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)
The rest of my Week 6 NFL picks:
Broncos (-10) at Jets
My line: Broncos -7.5
Steelers at Browns (-1.5)
My line: Browns -1
Pick: Pass (Contest: Steelers)
Jaguars at Titans (-6)
My line: Titans -5.5
Pick: Pass (Jaguars)
Packers (-3.5) at Dolphins
My line: Packers -3.5
Pick: Packers Continue reading
Started the week 0-1 after picking the Redskins on Thursday. I thought the dominance of home teams on Thursday nigh would continue. Instead the road team grabbed an early lead and the Redskins never threatened. Here are the rest of my Week 4 picks and contest picks:
Dolphins (-4) vs. Raiders in London
My line: Dolphins -4.5
Analysis: The Raiders have already taken cross-country trips to New York and New England. Now they are in a different continent after a great effort against the Patriots. I don’t think the Raiders will repeat their Week 3 performance and the Dolphins will bounce back after two straight losses.
Packers (-2) at Bears
My line: Bears -1
Analysis: The Bears should be the favorite at home. The Packers are desperate for a victory and the Bears are coming off two primetime wins so not a great scheduling situation.
Pick: Pass (Contest: Bears)
Bills at Texans (-3)
My line: Texans -3.5
Analysis: This will be a low-scoring game. E.J. Manuel will struggle against the Texans defense.
Pick: Pass (Texans)
I started the week 0-1 after picking the Steelers in the Thursday night game. I’m now 2-3 on the season and 6-11 overall in contest picks. I’m picking four more game this weekend including an over/under. Hyperlinks for analysis are provided below. For the other games I’ll provide a brief sentence or two on the side I would take in a contest.
Lions at Panthers (-3)
My line: Panthers -1.5
Analysis: It looks like Newton will play but he hasn’t spent much time with his receivers in the preseason. Lions are coming off a Monday night game playing at home so I wouldn’t pick them with confidence.
Pick: Pass (Contest: Lions)
Dolphins (-1) at Bills
My line: Bills -1.5
Click for analysis
The Dolphins are giving one point in this game. I think the wrong team is the favorite. Luckily for Miami they don’t have to play in Buffalo when it’s cold in November or December.
Both teams are coming off big wins in Week 1. The Dolphins got a huge game from Knowshon Moreno in their 33-23 win over New England. Lamar Miller also contributed to the Miami’s 191 rushing yards on the afternoon. The Bills shocked the Bears 23-20 in overtime. E.J. Manuel looked a lot better than he did last season and Buffalo recorded 193 rushing yards of their own.
I see both teams trying to run the football in this game. I think the Bills defensive line that includes Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus will slow down Moreno and Miller. Manuel will manage the game and the Bills will win a lower scoring game.
Pick: Bills (+1) over Dolphins
I have four picks for Sunday and Monday night in the NFL. I will provide my contest picks with a short analysis for the rest of the games. “My line” means what I think the line should be.
Saints (-3) at Falcons
My line: Saints -1
Analysis: I was very close to picking Atlanta but don’t trust taking them here. Saints offense can dominate in opener.
Pick: Pass (Contest: Falcons)
Vikings at Rams (-3.5)
My Line: Rams -3.5
Analysis: Shaun Hill against Matt Cassel isn’t what we imagined. Can see either team winning this game so take the points if you have to.
Pick: Pass (Vikings)
Browns at Steelers (-7)
My Line: Steelers -7.5
Analysis: Don’t trust either team right now. Steelers started off slowly last year and I could see that same thing happening again.
Pick: Pass (Browns)