There is perhaps no better feeling than the first Sunday of the NFL season. The excitement, the anticipation and the upside of no matter what happens another 16 glorious weeks of regular-season football. However, what can make Sunday’s even better is having an interest in more than just your own teams’ game. The best way to do that is by trying to take advantage of the value available around the league, be that the result, the spread, the total or some juicy prop picks. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights this week.
Here are this week’s NFL Picks:
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles | 1:00 pm EST
This game has all the makings of a blood bath. The Eagles are superior in virtually every position on the field to the Redskins, bar maybe a couple of spots on their respective defenses. The biggest factor for me in this game is the offensive lines. The Eagles have a line which is widely considered to be the best around, while the Redskins are trotting out Ereck Flowers, putting them pretty close to the bottom of the pack. The Eagles defensive line is not as deep as it was last season, but there is still a ton of talent packed in that group.
This game could be an absolutely beat down of the Washington offense, who I believe are left relying mostly on their run game to score their points. However, I also think there is a more than reasonable chance the Redskins get completely shutout in this game. How humiliating would that be Week 1 against your division rivals? I never like laying 10 points, but I feel like that is the only way to go in this one. I also think a dabble on the Redskins to be shutout could be an interesting bet.
2u – Philadelphia Eagles -10 @ -105
1u – Philadelphia Eagles to win to zero @ +1400
Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina Panthers | 1:00pm EST
This is a fascinating game because so much depends on whether Cam Newton is truly healthy. My instinct says yes and therefore this could be a very entertaining game. The Rams are two points favorites in this game, and the Panthers are seeing most of the money and tending to get more favor around the gabling world. However, the big issue I see for the Panthers is that their biggest strength being their defensive line is somewhat neutralized by the Rams having a good offensive line themselves. While in contrast, the Panthers middle of the road offensive line is taking on a very strong defensive front in the Rams. For me this game is there for the Rams. It is Week 1 so the time zone factor should not come into play. The line movement down from Rams -3 to Rams -2 plays into our hands here.
1.5u – Los Angeles Rams -2 @ -105
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings | 1:00pm EST
Now this is yet another fascinating game between two potential NFC playoff teams. The Falcons have not had much luck the past couple of years when it comes to their opening day matchups, as they had to go to Philadelphia to face the defending champion Eagles last season. However, the Falcons defense go into this game healthy, and that is very important. Once they got banged up last year they really struggled, but when they were healthy, they were a lot firmer. This game could be a cagey one early on as both teams look to wear down the opposing defenses with the run game in order to strike with the play action later. Therefore, I am looking to the under in the first half of this game, before things open up a little bit in the second half.
2u – Under 23.5 1st Half Points @ -110
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets| 1:00pm EST
The two teams likely battling for second in the AFC East go head-to-head in Week 1 in a game that could set the tone for these two teams this season. Both teams have a lot of upside, but a lot of risk as well. Both quarterbacks need to improve their accuracy this season, and if things do not go to plan, this could quickly be a game dominated by defense. In that scenario the defense I am backing here is the Bills. The Jets have nice pieces, but the Bills have talented players all over their defense, and especially along that defensive line. The Jets offensive line is likely to be closer to the worst in the league than the best, and the Bills defensive line should be able to take advantage. I am expecting Sam Darnold to be under plenty of pressure in this game, and that will mean this game likely comes to the last few plays. In that scenario, give me the Bills getting +3, because this game is likely to be won by less than a score.
1.5u – Buffalo Bills +3 @ -110
Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Chargers | 4:05 pm EST
There is no team in the NFL with more motivation to win in Week 1 than the Colts. Since Andrew Luck retired, they have been written off from all sides. Now they get to go on the field, on at worst a virtual neutral field, in a warm comfortable climate, against a team missing arguably two of their best five or six players. The Colts also have the best offensive line in football from last year, and Jacoby Brissett is going to have all the time in the world to survey the pocket and find his receivers. Meanwhile the Chargers come into this game with one of the worst offensive lines in football right now.
This game is going to be a lot closer than many people think, and I am going completely against the grain here and picking the Colts to leave LA with a victory.
An outside bet to get a touchdown in this game is tight end Jack Doyle. Doyle had 108 targets in the last full season that Brissett was under centre. Yes, he only caught four touchdowns, but the key is that Brissett is comfortable with him when the heat is on, and he offers by far the best value when it comes to getting in the endzone in this one.
1u – Indianapolis Colts ML @ +260
1u – Jack Doyle Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ +450
Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks | 4:05 pm EST
This game could be an absolute massacre. If it was in Cincinnati, I might have given the Bengals a chance, but going into Seattle with a banged up offensive line is just asking for trouble. The Seahawks are going to be able to run the ball, wear this defense down, and then get after Andy Dalton at every possible opportunity. However, laying 9.5 points after laying 10 earlier is too much so instead I will look at the total, which has all the makings of an under-type game. The Bengals offense is a major unknown, and the Seahawks love to run the ball more than anyone else in the NFL. This could become a slow game that you see very little of on RedZone, which if you take the under you will be very pleased about.
2u – Under 44 Total Points @ +100
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals| 4:25 pm EST
All of my attentions will be trained on this game come the late window. Much like the rest of the football community I am intrigued to see the Air Raid in action in the NFL. The Lions will likely also be interested, as they will not have seen it before in this setting. That could mean that the Cardinals manage to score some quick points while the Lions are adjusting their defensive plans to whatever Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray throw at them. However, the counter to that is that there is no reason to have any belief in the Cardinals defense. They struggled mightily at times last season, and now they are without both Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford for the opening stretch of the season. There could be a lot of points scored against this Cardinals defense this year, and this could be a very entertaining game.
1u – Over 46.5 Total Points @ -107
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots| 8:20 pm EST
Let’s end by taking a look at the Sunday Night Football game in New England. The Super Bowl champions open with one of their biggest AFC rivals of the past few years in what should be a brilliant opener for SNF. These games have a tradition of being high. Last season broke the mould as the game ended 17-10 to the Steelers, and I am expecting a similarly tight affair. Both teams should look to lean on very strong running games, and both defenses are improved on last year. This game opened with a total as high as 53 but has tumbled down below 50. Honestly, I still think that is too high, and I am taking the under all the way in this game.
Games in this series had also been somewhat lopsided in the favor of New England recently. However, that has started to switch back in the other direction the last two years, and I think that trend continues this year. The Patriots often use these early weeks as extended preseason and have been caught napping coming out the gate before in these home celebration games. Expect the Steelers to put up a very good fight in this one, and perhaps even leave with the win.
2u – Under 49.5 Total Points @ -110
2u – Pittsburgh Steelers +5 @ -105
By Ben Rolfe