NFL Week 1 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
NFL Week 11 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
After the NFL season kicked off with an exciting game Thursday (complete with the requisite bit of controversy conspiracy theorists thrive on), the first week’s full slate of games get under way Sunday. On the undercard for the highly anticipated prime time game between the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals are a handful of interesting matchups. The Jets host Cincinnati early on CBS and Green Bay travels to Jacksonville on FOX for the best early games, while FOX will broadcast a pair of NFC East teams (surprise, surprise) to 95% of the country in their late doubleheader slot. As has been the recent tradition there will be two consecutive Monday night games this week: a good one with the Steelers at Washington early, and then a yawner with the Rams playing the Niners late.
Most of the New England area will receive the Bengals-Jets and Packers-Jaguars games early, followed by the Cowboys-Giants late. For all the out of town fans, check out JP Kirby’s NFL Maps to see what games are being broadcast in your neck of the woods.
★★★ Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, David Diehl
Falcons -2½ (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 48 . . . . ATL -135, TB +115
Last year Tampa Bay ranked in the top ten in yards per play on both offense (5.9, 3rd) and defense (5.2, 8th), but was done in by turnovers and untimely penalties. Atlanta has the oldest team in the league, and it is going to show late in games this season. I would like this game a lot more if the spread was 3½, but I still think the Bucs sneak away with a win here despite Julio Jones being such a mismatch for 5’10” CB Brent Grimes.
Prediction: Bucs 27, Falcons 20
Buccaneers +2½ (2 units) . . . . . under 48 . . . . . Bucs +115
Final Score: Bucs 31, Falcons 24 ✓
Bucs +2½ (2 units) ✓✓ … under 48 x … Bucs +115 ✓
★★ Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman
Vikings -2½ (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 40 . . . . MIN -145, TEN +125
Road teams being listed as favorites is always a tricky play, but I like the Vikings here. While the headlines would have you believe that Minnesota is doomed due to the loss of their starting quarterback, they still have an undervalued defense that ranked fifth in the NFL last year with 18.9 points allowed per game.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Titans 10
Vikings -2½ (2 units) . . . . . under 40 (3 units) . . . . . Vikings -145
Final Score: Vikings 25, Titans 16 ✓
Vikings -2½ (2 units) ✓✓ . . . under 40 (3 units) xxx . . . Vikings -145 ✓
★★ Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Eagles -3 (opened at -7½) . . . . over/under 41 . . . . PHI -165, CLE +145
How is it that nobody considers Sam Bradford to be an exceptional quarterback, but once he is traded away the line slides 4½ points? Considering that the home team gets three points, do people really feel that on a neutral field Philly is just as bad as the Browns? The smart move would have been to double down and taken Cleveland when it was plus 7½, and then middle that later with Philadelphia minus 3.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Browns 16
Eagles -3 . . . . . under 41 . . . . . Eagles -165
Final Score: Eagles 29, Brown 10 ✓
Eagles -3 ✓ . . . under 41 ✓ . . . Eagles -165 ✓
★★★★ Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Bengals -2½ (opened as pick) . . . . over/under 42 . . . . CIN -130, NYJ +110
Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick (17 turnovers last year) is a pick waiting to happen against a strong Cincy defense. However, the Jets have an elite defense as well. If Todd Bowles can coach his defense into containing A.J. Green, then Cincy will be counting on Andy Dalton making passes to Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. For conspiracy theorists that believe that the
NFL NYJFL league offices may not necessarily fix games but certainly tilt the lever towards a desired outcome, consider this: the team from New York will be playing their season opener on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
Prediction: Jets 17, Bengals 13
Jets +2½ (2 units) . . . . . under 42 (3 units) . . . . . Jets +110
Final Score: Bengals 23, Jets 22 x
Jets +2½ (2 units) ✓✓ . . . under 42 (3 units) ✓✓✓ . . . Jets +110 x
★★★★ Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber
Saints -1½ (opened as pick) . . . . over/under 52 . . . . NO -125, OAK +105
New Orleans allowed an NFL-worst 29.8 points per game last year, and will be without starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who has a quad injury. The Saints have never lost a home season opener in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era; the dome will be rocking, which could give a relatively young and inexperienced Oakland club trouble at times. New Orleans DC Dennis Allen will dial up some exotic blitzes to mask the talent deficiency on defense, but Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should be able to have their way with the New Orleans defensive backs. Look for All-Pro DE Khalil Mack to expose a shaky New Orleans offensive line.
Prediction: Raiders 31, Saints 24
Raiders +1½ (1 unit) . . . . . over 52 . . . . . Raiders +105
Final Score: Raiders 35, Saints 34 ✓
Raiders +1½ (1 unit) ✓ . . . over 52 ✓ . . . Raiders +105 ✓
★★★ San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Chiefs -7 (opened at -7½) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . KC -280, SD +240
In each of the last few years San Diego has been done in by multiple injuries, particularly to their offensive line. RB Melvin Gordon seems to be running well after dealing with a knee injury last year, and they have upgraded their defense as well with the additions of NT Brandon Mebane and LB Denzel Perryman to the starting lineup. This week the Chargers are healthy, but their opponent is not. KC will be without OLB Justin Houston, one of the best defensive players in the NFL. OLB Tamba Hali is dealing with a knee injury and though he will play he is expected to be used sparingly, and safety Eric Berry missed all of training camp. This game will be a lot closer than many expect it to be; I liked this better when it was 7½, but I will still take San Diego plus the points.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Chargers 20
Chargers +7 (1 unit) . . . . . under 44½ . . . . . Chargers +240
Final Score: Chiefs 33, Chargers 27 (OT) ✓
Chargers +7 (1 unit) ✓ . . . under 44½ x . . . Chargers +240 x
★★★ Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Ravens -3 (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . BAL -165, BUF +145
Much has been made of all the injuries that the Ravens had last year, and that being an excuse for the precipitous drop to a 5-11 record. However, the fact is that they were losing before the injury bug hit; the only explanation for the downfall that they and the Colts experienced is that it was cosmic retribution for their complicity in the frame job and subsequent witch hunt that became known as deflategate. However, the Bills are without DE Shaq Lawson, DE Marcell Dareus, OT Seantrel Henderson, and seven more players on IR.
Prediction: Ravens 23, Bills 20
Ravens -3 . . . . . under 44½ . . . . . Ravens -165
Final Score: Ravens 13, Bills 7 ✓
Ravens -3 ✓ . . . under 44½ ✓ . . . Ravens -165 ✓
★★★ Chicago Bears at Houston Texans
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis
Texans -6 (opened at -4½) . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . HOU -230, CHI +190
There has been a fair amount of hype about Houston after they shocked the ‘experts’ to win the AFC South last year, but let’s pump the brakes a little. J.J. Watt is dealing with a bad back, and perhaps more importantly their offensive line is without LT Duane Brown and C Nick Martin. The Bears improved in the off-season with the additions of inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman, DE Akiem Hicks and LG Josh Sitton.
Prediction: Bears 24, Texans 20
Bears +6 (3 units) . . . . . over 43½ . . . . . Bears +190
Final Score: Texans 23, Bears 14 x
Bears +6 (3 units) xxx . . . over 43½ x . . . Bears +190 x
★★★★★ Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch
Packers -5½ (opened at -4½) . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . GB -210, JAX +180
Jacksonville is another AFC team that has received a lot of hype as being one that is on the rise, but Green Bay is arguably the best team in the NFC. The Packer defense is underrated and will get after Blake Bortles after Aaron Rodgers reunites with Jordy Nelson. I would have felt more strongly about this game had the line moved the other way or at least remained steady, but I’ll still give the Cheeseheads a slight lean here.
Prediction: Packers 27, Jaguars 20
Packers -5½ . . . . . under 47½ . . . . . Packers -210
Final Score: Packers 27, Jaguars 23 ✓
Packers -5½ x . . . under 47½ x . . . Packers -210 ✓
★★ Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, September 11 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Seahawks -10½ (opened at -7½) . . . . over/under 44 . . . . SEA -525, MIA +400
A rookie head coach gets to take his team on the road as far as possible within the continental US, to face a team that led the NFL in defense the last two years in the league’s loudest stadium. Seattle has some problems on their offensive line, but there is a good chance that Miami could be in line for a top five draft pick next spring. Despite all that I just can’t back a team to cover a double digit spread this early in the year without the benefit of watching them play some real games.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Dolphins 14
Dolphins +10½ . . . . . under 44 (2 units) . . . . . Dolphins +400
Final Score: Seahawks 12, Dolphins 10 ✓
Dolphins +10½ ✓. . . under 44 (2 units) ✓✓ . . . Dolphins +400 x
★★★ New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
pick’em (opened w/Cowboys -4) . . . . over/under 46 . . . . NYG -110, DAL -110
The Giants look good up front with their defense, but their offensive line is still a mess. Dallas has a very good offensive line, and that strength vs strength battle could determine the outcome. This will be our first opportunity to see Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their first real NFL game.
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Giants 20
Cowboys +0 . . . . . under 46 . . . . . Cowboys -110
Final Score: Giants 20, Cowboys 19 x
Cowboys +0 x . . . under 46 ✓ . . . Cowboys -110 x
★★★★ Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Colts -3 (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 51 . . . . IND -165, DET +145
For some reason many think that with a new season, Andrew Luck will lead the Colts to another division title. Dig deeper and you will find that Indy still has a horrible offensive line, no running game, an average defense and a below average head coach. Detroit has a good defense and finished last season with a 6-2 record after the bye. I’m happy to have bought in at six points, but I wouldn’t want to touch it at three; we all know who 345 Park Avenue wants to win this game.
Prediction: Colts 24, Lions 23
Lions +3 . . . . . under 51 . . . . . Lions +145
Final Score: Lions 39, Colts 35 x
Lions +3 ✓ . . . under 51 x . . . Lions +145 ✓
★★★★★ New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, September 11 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Cardinals -7 (opened w/Pats -1) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . ARI -300, NE +250
One one side you have a team that will be without their quarterback who may be the greatest to ever play the position, without a tight end who may be the greatest to ever play the position, without both starting offensive tackles, without their best running back, and without both defensive ends from last year’s team. Now they have to go cross country to face an opponent with no noticeable losses off of a 13-3 season. This Patriot defense is underrated and Bill Belichick can never be counted out, but all those missing key players is just too much to overcome.
Prediction: Cardinals 24, Patriots 13
Cardinals -7 . . . . . under 44½ (1 unit) . . . . . Cardinals -300
Final Score: Patriots 23, Cardinals 21 x
Cardinals -7 x . . . under 44½ (1 unit) ✓ . . . Cardinals -300 x
★★★★★ Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington
Sunday, September 12 at 7:10 pm ET on ESPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden
Steelers -3 (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 50 . . . . PIT -145, WAS +125
The Steelers are the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC, but let’s not forget that they are without RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Martavis Bryan for this game. The addition of CB Josh Norman improves Washington’s defense, and a prime time crowd on opening weekend is always a huge plus for the home team.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Skins 23
Skins +3 . . . . . under 50 . . . . . Skins +125
Final Score: Steelers 38, Skins 16 ✓
Skins +3 x . . . under 50 x . . . Skins +125 x
★ Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, September 12 at 10:20 pm ET on ESPN; Chris Berman, Steve Young
Rams -2½ (opened at -1) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . LA -140, SF +120
The Rams are bad. The Niners are horrible. I have no idea why anybody outside of those two fan bases would want to watch this game.
Prediction: Rams 20, Niners 10
Rams -2½ . . . . . under 42½ (1 unit) . . . . . Rams -140
Final Score: 49ers 288, Rams 0 x
Rams -2½ x . . . under 42½ (1 unit) ✓ . . . Rams -140 x
Week 1 Results:
10-6 Straight Up
10-6 Against the Spread
21 units invested
9-2, +840 on $2310 risk
3-unit plays: 1-2, -360
2-unit plays: 4-0, +800
1-unit plays: 4-0, +400
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