Four Teams I’m Looking to Bet On Early in the NFL Season

After picking six teams I’m looking to bet against, I’ll be more positive in this article and recommend teams I’m looking to bet on. I’ll look to back these teams in individual games rather than win totals in most cases. There’s a risk betting over a team’s win total because an injury can impact everything about a team’s success. Also these win totals have been out for months so there isn’t much value left in August. Instead of waiting four months to learn the result of your bet, I prefer betting on the teams I like early in the season.

I have four teams I like but want to mention two before diving in. The Rams and Chargers are two teams I like a lot but so do a lot of people. The Rams win total is 10 and they are in a loaded NFC. It’s asking a lot of them to win 11 games. Instead of going over their win total, I tweeted that I bet them to win the NFC West at -135 because I’m down on the 49ers and Seahawks, who are the other two teams that could realistically win the division.

The Chargers win total is at 9.5 but they sit at +155 to win the AFC West. I wrote about betting against the Chiefs and Raiders so I’m considering a division bet on the Chargers. I’m interested in taking them -3 in Week 1 against the Chiefs too. I’ll tweet out whatever I end up doing with the Chargers.

Falcons- It would’ve been a very predictable outcome if the 2017 Falcons didn’t meet expectations after one of the worst Super Bowl losses in NFL history. Their play was up and down but they ended up going over a win total of 9.5 with a victory in Week 17. They were able to make the playoffs, upset the Rams and had a great chance of beating the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles in Philadelphia. I think the Falcons’ offense will see positive regression in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s second season in charge. I expect a strong year from the defense as Dan Quinn continues to develop players that fit his system. A win total at 9 seems a touch low and it’s tempting to take the Falcons in a Week 1 revenge game against the Eagles on the first Thursday night of the season.

Verdict: There are several ways to bet on the Falcons this season so I’m going to look to find spots early in the season to back them.  Continue reading

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: Preseason Week 1 Handicapping Preview

Some see the NFL preseason as bad football but I see it as great opportunities to find point spread value. Unlike the regular season, coaches usually open up about their game plan. If you read articles and tweets from beat writers, you will find out how many snaps the starters will play and how the team will approach the game.

It’s too early in the week to know about how teams will approach these games but I have found three contests in Week 1 of preseason where I think I have a strong angle.

One thing I look for when picking preseason games is quarterback competitions. There are several teams with two of more quarterbacks that still think they will win the job and will be giving their maximum effort when they get an opportunity. I also looked at teams with new coaches. The best way to win over a fan base and impress the local media is to win in your home debut. There a several of those cases right off the bat.

Buccaneers at Eagles (-3) 

The Eagles haven’t played a game under Doug Pederson but the pressure is already on the first-time head coach. It started when the team re-signed Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel followed Pederson from Kansas City to Philadelphia. It looked like those two would battle for the starting quarterback job until a third player entered the picture. The Eagles traded a package of draft picks for FCS star Carson Wentz. It looks like Bradford is the favorite to start in Week 1 of the regular season but it can’t help his confidence that his coach wanted a player from North Dakota State so desperately that they traded valuable assets for him.

Philadelphia is a market that wants to win now and the media isn’t shy to share their honest opinions about the team. Because of that I think Pederson will want to make a statement in his first home game in charge, even if it doesn’t count in the standings. Quieting the media and satisfying the fans early should be motivation for the Eagles to want to win the game.

As mentioned before, the quarterback competition for the Eagles is still up for grabs so we should see four quarters of play from three motivated players who think they can win the job. Chase Daniel is familiar preseason situations from his days with the Saints and Chiefs so this pick is partly on him to play well. The motivation for the new coach and quarterback competition leads me to taking the Eagles.

Pick: Eagles (-3) over Buccaneers

Cowboys at Rams (-3.5)

The NFL is back in Los Angeles and the Rams open their preseason schedule at home against the Cowboys. A few factors have me favoring the Rams against the spread in this game even though they are giving more than a field goal. Motivation is the first reason as the Rams will want to put on a show for their new fan base and collect a win.

The Rams are another team with a quarterback competition. Case Keenum is listed as the starter for now but rookie Jared Goff has to believe he can win the job, and St. Louis might leave the first team offense out so the first overall pick gets a fair shot.

This pick is also a play against the Cowboys. Dallas was plagued by injuries last season and it’s already beginning in training camp. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his ankle and running back Ezekiel Elliott has been banged up. The Cowboys main priority is to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries, so I’m guessing Tony Romo and the starters will only see one series if they suit up.

The Moore injury really hampers the Cowboys in this game as rookie Dak Prescott is now the backup. Jameill Showers is Dallas’ other option. I’ll take the Rams here as they have a huge edge when it comes to the quarterback position and the motivation angle.

Pick: Rams (-3.5) over Cowboys

Texans at 49ers (-3)

The biggest takeaway from the 2015 preseason was that Chip Kelly wants to win and isn’t afraid to run up the score. Philadelphia finished the month 3-1 with a point differential of +56. Kelly showed off his hand-picked offensive offensive weapons and the buzz was so great that the Eagles became a Super Bowl favorite because of their exhibition game play.

Things didn’t work out in Philly and now Kelly is back on the west coast with the 49ers. He faces a huge challenge as he tries to resurrect the career of Colin Kaepernick and attempts to get the most out of Blaine Gabbert. It doesn’t look pretty but these two players will be looking to impress their new coach and win the starting job. Kelly will let both play and he’s a coach you want to back in preseason based off his track record.

The Texans have a new quarterback and running back this season but here’s another team that just needs to get out of the preseason without anymore injuries. Most notably, J.J. Watt is in danger of missing the start of the regular season after undergoing back surgery. Houston will want Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller to get used to the new offense but I’m going to predict Houston will wait until the second or third game of preseason to put them on display. The 49ers are a bad team but I feel comfortable in supporting Chip Kelly in this spot.

Pick: 49ers (-3) over Texans

NFL: Week 16 Picks

Eagles (-3) over Redskins: The Redskins can win the division with a win but I think the NFC East will be decided in Week 17. I was dead wrong about the Eagles last week but think they bounce back here.

Buccaneers (-3) over Bears: This is a revenge game for Lovie Smith against his former employers. The Bears are already thinking about the offseason and the Buccaneers have pride to play for.

Broncos (-3) over Bengals: Can’t see AJ McCarron doing well in a primetime environment against a great defense. The Broncos need this game more and I think they win by over a field goal.

Buccaneers vs Falcons Pick

Have a few games circled this week but wanted to lock this pick in before I the line moves. I like the Falcons to return home and cover a seven-point spread against the Buccaneers on Sunday. The Falcons are coming off an ugly 10-7 win over the Titans. Atlanta  had several chances to cover the spread in that game but failed to do so. I think this week is a great chance for their offense to get on track.

The Buccaneers blew a 24-point lead to the Redskins on Sunday. I think they will have trouble bouncing back after such a heartbreaking loss. In this game game last year in Atlanta, the Falcons jumped out to a 56-0 lead over the Buccaneers before winning 56-14. I don’t think Atlanta will win by that margin but I can see a comfortable win for the home side.

Pick: Falcons (-7) over Buccaneers

Buccaneers Season Win Total Pick

Pick: Buccaneers over 5.5 wins (-165)

Things couldn’t have been worse for Lovie Smith in his return as a coach in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers finished 2-14 and had the worst record in the NFL while playing in the worst division in the league.

It was a forgettable 2014 but there were several bright spots for the Buccaneers. Rookie Mike Evans proved to be the right pick in the first round of the 2014 Draft. The record was misleading becasue Tampa Bay played in a lot of close games and were on the wrong side of the result. The team still has defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and middle linebacker Lavonte David who two of the best players at their position. The Buccaneers had the No. 1 pick in the draft and took quarterback Jameis Winston, who will be an upgrade from Josh McCown.

Asking the Buccaneers to win six games is very reasonable. Winston might be shaky at times but he will at least bring excitement to a fanbase that didn’t have anything to cheer about in 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tampa Bay makes a run at the division title in the NFC South. I’m going to look at the win total with them and believe over 5.5 wins is a very strong pick.