In case you have not heard, sports betting is on the fast track to being legalized. The big players in daily fantasy and casinos across the country have already started gearing up for the influx of activity that this will bring.
For those who may be unaware of how a betting line works, here are some Cliff’s notes:
Spread – Points to add or subtract to the team’s final score
Win – Win without points
Total – Total combined score between the two teams (O = Over, U = Under)
In this case, if you placed a bet on the Ravens -7, they would need to win by more than 7 points for you to win. If you bet on the Bills +7, they would need to lose by less than 7 points (or win) for you to win the bet. A score difference of exactly 7 points would be a push and you would simply get your money back.
The number in parenthesis indicates the amount of money you will win for a particular bet. A negative number shows how much money you would have to put down to win $100. A positive number shows how much money you will win if you placed a $100 bet. For this game, if you wanted to bet on the Ravens to win, without points, you would have to put down $280 to win $100.
This piece each week will give you some insights on the lines and some information about each game that would help in making a decision. I will also make my pick for each game, but let’s be honest: if I was good enough or had the bankroll to win it big, I wouldn’t be working a 9-5 and betting pocket change here and there on games.
I will be using the spread data from my casino of choice, Bovada, and the other game related records and stats will be compiled from OddsShark.com. The lines will be as of Wednesday each week.
Since teams change year over year, for non-divisional games, I will use the last three matchups as my basis and for divisional games I will use the last 10. This should give an idea as to how teams have been performing against one another.
Before we get into the meat of the article, here is probably the most important line that you will read:
Disclaimer: Please do not take these picks and expect to make any real money. I enjoy picking games and the discussions they create so feel free to play along. I will provide information for each game, but please make your own decisions and BE RESPONSIBLE!
Feel free to play along, tell me where I am wrong, or just enjoy the read. NFL Week 1, here we go…
Thursday – 9/6/18
Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-2, o/u 45.0)
The rich got richer this offseason as Philly signed or traded for Mike Wallace, Haloti Ngata, and Michael Bennett to name a few. If the latter two can stay healthy and play at a level close to how they have performed in the past, this could be a deep, stout defense in Philly.
I am trying my hardest not to put too much stock in preseason, but Atlanta has not looked good at all. Couple that with the Fighting Papale’s raising their Super Bowl banner, and The Linc will be electric on opening night. Fly Eagles, Fly.
My Pick: Philadelphia -2
Sunday – 9/9/18
Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens (-7, o/u 40.5)
How much will the loss of Jimmy Smith and Hayden Hurst hurt the Ravens? In this game, I think very little. The Bills will be starting Nathan Peterman and he is staring across the line at all of the horses the Ravens have compiled over the past few years. The Ravens will get to Peterman early and often and the Bills will have to play catch-up most of the day.
My Pick: Baltimore -7
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots (-6.5, o/u 51.0)
I know what the numbers say, but I believe the Texans defense will be able to get to her majesty and upset the Patriots passing game. If they do that, they have the ability to not only cover, but also win outright.
My Pick: Houston +6.5
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings (-6.0, o/u 46.0)
This was a tough one for me. With a -6 spread, I think Vegas is telling us to go with the Vikings and their defense even after Jimmy G’s phenomenal end to last season. The Vikings will cover the 6 points and the way-too-early “Is Jimmy Garoppolo a fluke?” talk will start. (He’s not, by the way.)
My Pick: Minnesota -6
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Giants (+3.0, o/u 43.5)
The Giants have gotten a lot of attention this offseason with people gushing over Saquon Barkley and the Odell Beckham contract situation. Not much has been said about the team who “should” have been representing the AFC in the Super Bowl had it not been for a collapse against the Patriots. The Jags offense will not be world-beaters, especially after the loss of Marqise Lee, but their defense will more than make up for that loss. Welcome to the NFL, Saquon.
My Pick: Jacksonville -3
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts (-3.0, o/u 46.0)
Probably the least interesting game of the weekend. Even if Andrew Luck plays, I think the Bengals have the advantage here on both sides of the ball and win outright. I think the more interesting thing in this game is to try to guess how long before Vontaze Burfict is ejected for an illegal hit.
My Pick: Cincinnati +3
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns (+4.0, o/u 46.5)
Ah, the matchup that burns me more than any in the NFL. I pick Pittsburgh, Cleveland covers. I pick Cleveland and Big Ben turns into Joe Montana and lights Cleveland up like a Christmas tree. So take this with a grain of salt…
Cleveland is much improved on paper, but we really know nothing about how these guys will play together. From the outside, it looks like Pittsburgh’s locker room can be in some sort of turmoil. This really comes down to the Cleveland defense and whether or not Garrett and Ward can play with the big boys. Ward will be tested early and that will be an indication as to how the rest of the day will go.
The line on this game has moved a ton over the past week, which tells me money is flowing in on Cleveland (which also gives me hesitation about the pick). This is a game I would rather place some in-game bets as you see how things are playing out, but since I have to make a pick…
My Pick: Cleveland +4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-9.5, o/u 49.5)
Even though Tampa Bay will be starting the NFL’s smartest quarterback, the Saints are stacked. Fitzpatrick will throw a few interceptions (I know, big shocker there) and Brees will continue to defy his age.
My Pick: New Orleans -9.5
Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins (+1.0, o/u 45.0)
This was another one of the tougher ones for me that I would probably stay away from in Week 1 because it really comes down to quarterback play. Since that is the case, I have to go with Mariota, but this one is a toss-up.
My Pick: Tennessee -1.0
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers (-3.0, o/u 48.0)
Oh, Philip Rivers. You treat me so well in fantasy yet you always disappoint when the season is on the line. If the Chargers cannot get to the playoffs and win a game or two this year, they may never. Kansas City has dominated this series as of late, but this is a new year.
My Pick: Los Angeles -3
Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos (-3.0, o/u 43.0)
Denver at home is tough to pick against, but I think this will be a low scoring games as both teams are strong on defense and not so much on the other side of the ball. This is another game I would stay away from, but my imaginary money is on…
My Pick: Seattle +3.0
Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers (-3.0, o/u 43.0)
In Week 1 there are always more -3 spreads than other weeks it seems as Vegas tries to figure out these teams like everyone else. This is another one. I think the Panthers have a chance to compete with New Orleans and Atlanta for the NFC South if everyone stays healthy. This will be a close a game, but the Panthers will cover.
My Pick: Carolina -3
Washington Redskins vs. Arizona Cardinals (PICK, o/u 44.0)
Before the Ravens showed up in Baltimore, we would always root for whoever was playing the Redskins. As I have “matured,” I now root for whoever will make me a few bucks. Unfortunately, in this game I think it is the Redskins.
My Pick: Washington PICK
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers (-7.5, o/u 47.5)
-7.5 points is a lot in a rivalry game, but I think the Pack are that much better than the Bears at this point even if Khalil Mack can suit up in Week 1. Aaron Rodgers will be able to carve up the Bears secondary and put up big numbers.
My Pick: Green Bay -7.5
Monday – 9/10/18
New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions (-7.0, o/u 45.0)
Who are the Jets? Good question. I like Sam Darnold, but I am not willing to bet on a rookie quarterback going on the road on Monday Night Football for his first start.
My Pick: Detroit -7
Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders (+4.5, o/u 49.5)
The game I am most looking forward to watching in Week 1 (aside from the Ravens). I think this will be a fantastic game as the Raiders look to rebound from last year and they go up against arguably the best roster on paper in the NFL. There are so many storylines in this game. Ultimately, I think the upgrades the Rams made in the offseason, are too much for the Raiders and they easily cover the 4.5 points. Maybe a part of me is also hoping to see evil chucky come out in this game too.
My Pick: Los Angeles -4.5
That is it for Week 1. The first two weeks are always boom or bust. Vegas does not really know how these teams are going to perform yet and you can get some good bang for your buck if you play your cards right.
However, it is not always easy to find where that value lies.
Happy hunting. Good luck!