Week One kicks off tonight when the Atlanta Falcons visit the Philadelphia Eagles! It is about time!
Three years ago, I started this Breaking Vegas series where I pick 5 games against the spread every week. I have been over 50% every year but have yet to hit my goal of 60%. This is the year.
Starting in Week One this year I am going with four road teams. Call me crazy but I love my picks for the week.
Betting the first couple weeks is always difficult because we are never quite sure what to expect from these teams. It seems like each year teams are showing us less in the preseason and sitting their stars in the exhibitions. This causes rust and inefficiencies in the early part of the season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
With that said, betting is fun and soon to be legal across the United States! How the NFL is going to embrace sports gambling is going to be interesting to see. Will they fully accept it and address it from the leadership of the league, or will they just ignore it while they continue to make a ton of money from it? Either way the multi-billion-dollar industry is coming to the forefront and will likely overtake Fantasy Football as the go-to for football fans.
More about the legal betting market to come throughout the NFL season. For now, let’s get to the picks…
Pittsburgh Steelers -4@ Cleveland Browns
A lot has been made leading up to Week One about LeVeon Bell and the drama surrounding the absent running back. There has also been a lot of hype around the new-and-improved Cleveland Browns. That is all well and good, but the Steelers are still the superior team, with better talent, a better coach, and a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.
Ben Roethlisberger has not been great on the road in recent years but goes into Cleveland and leads the Steelers to a win.
Steelers 28 – Browns 22
Tennessee Titans -1.5@ Miami Dolphins
Derrick Henry and Dion Sims make up one of the most intriguing backfields in the league. Marcus Mariota is looking at a breakout season. Things are looking up for the Titans.
But the most important part to betting this game is that the Miami Dolphins may be the worst team in the league. Ryan Tannehill missed last season with a knee injury but returns to lead this miserable offense in 2018.
Titans 24 – Dolphins 14
Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos -3
Russell Wilson is a top-5 quarterback in the league, but not a lot of other players on the roster stick out. The whole defense has turned over, except for Earl Thomas, but that is another story. The Seahawks used their first-round pick on a running back that was projected to go in the third round, while largely ignoring the maligned offensive line.
The Broncos are a very well-rounded team who feel like they found a little bit of stability at the quarterback position with Case Keenum. Add the Oregon Duck rookie Royce Freeman and this offense may be almost as dynamic as the defense.
Broncos 31 – Seahawks 27
Los Angeles Rams -4.5@ Oakland Raiders
I really don’t know what the Raiders are doing. They traded one of the most dominant defensive players in the league. Jon Gruden is going to be a lightning rod the entire season. He is a great coach, but the league has changed completely since he last coached 10 years ago. Gruden can do a lot of good for Oakland but they will be facing a buzz saw in week one.
The Rams are one of the best teams in the league and they got better this offseason by adding talent on both sides of the ball. Brandin Cooks will join Sean McVay’s offense and add another layer of complexity to help Jared Goff continue his development into a dominant quarterback.
Rams 35 – Raiders 17
Upset Special of the Week:
Atlanta Falcons +1@ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles won the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion last year. Their season won’t get off to the start that they expected. Nick Foles starts the season under center with Carson Wentz still recovering from ACL surgery. The problem is that Foles isn’t completely healthy with a shoulder injury. To add to the early season injuries receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Mack Hollins are out, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is on the PUP list, tight end Richard Rodgers is on the IR, and linebacker Nigel Bradham is suspended for week one.
The Falcons have the star power to come out and upset the Eagles on opening night in the NFL. Expect Matt Ryan to get back to MVP form with the weapons on that offense.
Falcons 27 – Eagles 21
*All betting lines provided by Bovada.LV on the Thursday preceding particular NFL week.