Week 1 NFL Picks Against The Spread
NFL Picks Against The Spread
Every single week this season we will take on the nastiest beast the NFL has to offer, the points spread. Some are puzzling, some seem like they are sure wins, and sometimes it seems like Las Vegas has an up on you.
If you would like to take your own tally and see if you can beat me throughout the season, I encourage the challenge. The lines were taken from BOVADA on ESPN.
This season is bound to have a team like the Minnesota Vikings or Indianapolis Colts who should be bad, but end up making the playoffs. Then you have a team like the Detroit Lions who go from a playoff team to last place. That is the beauty of the NFL; it is unpredictable. That is why when you are winning it is one of the best feelings in the world.
It is week one, and the storylines are abundant. You have Darrelle Revis returning to his former home turf, Tom Brady starting a new era in his offense, the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers fighting for the early line of NFC favorites, plenty of teams look to be on the rise while others seem to be on the decline, and it all starts with a rematch of one of the best playoff games in recent memory when the Denver Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens. Then, the week will end with not one, but two Monday night games. Robert Griffin III takes on Chip Kelly's new offense in the first game, and the Houston Texans try to show they are still a force to be reckoned with when they take on the San Diego Chargers.
Baltimore Ravens (+7.5) @ Denver Broncos
The defending Super Bowl champions are getting no respect from the sports books in Las Vegas. I think that the Broncos will win, but to have them win by over a touchdown is a stretch. Both teams will be going off emotion with it being the opening game of the season on national television. The Broncos will miss Von Miller's presence. The Ravens will struggle with the new weapons on both sides of the ball, but they still have Ray Rice and Joe Flacco. Peyton Manning will love his new weapons, but he will have to get into a groove to start the season. Take the points. Final Score: Ravens 21 - Broncos 24
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (+11)
The Patriots are trying to survive the losses of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez while dealing with the injury to Rob Gronkowski. They have a supreme athlete in Danny Amendola and then a bunch of rookies who need to lead this team. They seem to want to win on rushing and defense. Sounds a lot different. The Buffalo Bills are starting the E.J. Manuel era starting with game one. It looked like the Bills would make history with Jeff Tuel, but it seems like Manuel will be ready. Both these teams have a ton of question marks. The fact is it seems like the Patriots are still head and shoulders above the division. Expect all the talk of the Pats being done to motivate Brady's Bunch. Final Score: Patriots 38 Bills 13
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) @ Chicago Bears
These are two teams that are going in opposite directions. The Chicago Bears are playing with a new coach, and Jay Cutler is in a contract year. This team could be taking one last shot before blowing the whole thing up. The Bengals, on the other hand, have made the playoffs in two straight years and have youth throughout their roster. It all has to do with how Cutler approaches this season to see how it goes. Brian Urlacher is gone, so he will need to take on a leadership role on top of being the quarterback. The Bengals just seem to be in a more stable situation. With them given points on top of it, take them here. Bengals 27 Bears 20
Miami Dolphins (+1) @ Cleveland Browns
The Miami Dolphins are the sexy pick for people after they overachieved in 2012. The Cleveland Browns are a team I believe will surprise in 2013. Brandon Weeden can only get better, and he has looked more than competent this preseason. Ryan Tannehill wants to continue to grow even without his stud tackle Jake Long. Mike Wallace is going to be motivated now that he got paid, but this Browns defense is much improved. These teams are hard to read without a week to see what kind of impact they want to make. The lack of a run game will hurt Miami in the end. Dolphins 16 Browns 20
Minnesota Vikings (+5.5) @ Detroit Lions
The Vikings rode the recently reconstructed legs of Adrian Peterson to make a surprise run to the playoffs. The Lions saw a record-breaking season by Calvin Johnson go by the wayside with a team that could only conjure four wins. These two teams had opposite 2012 seasons. It seems that the Vikings may not have been that good and the Lions weren't that bad. Christian Ponder will need to improve if this team wants to continue their progress. It seems Vegas thinks that this Vikings team will not make last season a habit. I think the Lions have a very good team and they will be much better, but I think this one will be close. Final Score: Vikings 23 Lions 24
Oakland Raiders (+10) @ Indianapolis Colts
The Oakland Raiders are very, very bad. They traded their only good offensive weapon to the Arizona Cardinals. Their other weapon can't stay on the field, and they lost skill at wide receiver. That being said, the Colts aren't as good as their record stated last season. So how good is this team? They are definitely good enough to put a whooping on Terrell Pryor and the Raiders. Andrew Luck will have more followers than anyone this week. Expect a big performance from him and Reggie Wayne. Final Score: Raiders 3 Colts 31
Atlanta Falcons (+3) @ New Orleans Saints
In what is becoming one of the best rivalries in all of football, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints play in what is going to be a deafening Superdome this Sunday. Drew Brees welcomes back his head coach Sean Payton after his year long suspension. The Falcons are looking to build on their first taste of postseason success. This is the last season we will see Tony Gonzalez, so they need to make it count. I feel like the emotions are just a bit higher for the Saints, it being a home game and the return of Payton. I expect them to win a shootout. Falcons 38 Saints 42
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets (+3)
The obvious storyline is Revis returning to MetLife Stadium wearing a different uniform. The New York Jets traded their best player to the Bucs because they couldn't afford him and they knew it. It seems like the Geno Smith era is starting for Gang Green, even if Rex Ryan refuses to make a decision on that. The Jets just seem like one of the worst teams in the league. They don't have a supreme playmaker on offense, and their defense will be decent, but not enough to keep them in games. This game is no different and I expect Josh Freeman and the Bucs to start off the season on the right foot. Final Score: Buccaneers 23 Jets 13
Tennessee Titans (+7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are not in the best shape with their team. An awful preseason is having analysts calling for a rebuilding period for them. I feel like they have one more good year in this team. They are healthy for the first time in years on defense. They seem like they have a good line for Ben Roethlisberger, and his ability to stay healthy will be key. The Titans are looking like they still need a few years. Jake Locker doesn't seem to be progressing the way they wanted, and Chris Johnson has lost the 2K part of his nickname. Expect the Steelers to just beat the spread on this one. Titans 13 Steelers 23
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers (+3)
The Seahawks are widely known as the best team in the NFL. Most people are choosing them to take the NFC. Even with the injury to Percy Harvin, Russell Wilson and that top tier defense should be enough to carry them until he comes back. On the other side, the Carolina Panthers are playing with some of the best young talent in the league. They have Cam Newton quarterbacking the offense and Luke Kuechly quarterbacking the defense. This game will show a lot about both these teams, but I think the Seahawks show they are for real. It won't be the kind of slugging it would have been in Seattle, but the Seahawks win comfortably. Seahawks 31 Panthers 20
Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5)
In this writer's opinion, the Jacksonville Jaguars are just not going to be a good football team. They have made minimal upgrades, and they will be without number one wideout Justin Blackmon for the first four weeks. The Kansas City Chiefs made many changes this offseason. They turned the quarterback position from Matt Cassel to Alex Smith. They changed their coach from Romeo Crennel to Andy Reid. They made major upgrades to a team that had six Pro Bowlers already. Expect the Chiefs to have a big win here. Final Score: Chiefs 41 Jaguars 10
Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) @ St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams made big moves in the draft bringing in West Virginia wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey along with Alec Ogletree at linebacker. The team seems to be a year off from being really good. The Cardinals brought in Carson Palmer to finally give Larry Fitzgerald a competent quarterback. With Patrick Peterson taking control of a very good secondary this Arizona team could turn some heads. Both these teams would be much better in different divisions, but they are here and they need to prove themselves. I am taking the points as I can't read which team will play better. Cardinals 20 Rams 21
Green Bay Packers (+4.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
In what may be the best game of the week, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers go up against Colin Kaepernick and the defending NFC Champion 49ers. Both teams are in a bit of change with the 49ers losing top receiver Michael Crabtree to injury and Packers losing Greg Jennings to the Vikings. It will be interesting how the defense attacks the 49ers' pistol offense. It will be a contrast of styles, one the best pocket quarterback in the game and the other one of the best dual threat quarterbacks. I think the defense will be the difference in this game, and the 49ers are still head and shoulders above in that category. Final Score: Packers 24 49ers 31
New York Giants (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys
In what is still one of the most vicious rivalries in football, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants meet in week one in a nationally televised game. This season it is Sunday night, but the eyeballs will still be watching. The Cowboys are given three points to a team that is looking to get back to their Super Bowl winning ways. The injury to Andre Brown really hurts, and now the pressure is on David Wilson. Tony Romo is playing behind a mammoth contract extension and will really try to show he is worth it. Remember, the beginning of the season isn't where the Cowboys struggle. Final Score: Giants 14 Cowboys 20
Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) @ Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III has not played a single snap since tearing his ACL against the Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game this January. He is slated to play week one on the first Monday night game of the season. They are playing a team that will play a similar type of style with new coach Chip Kelly using Michael Vick to run his offense. This will be one of the most exciting games of the season's first week. The defenses don't really know what to expect, so I see this as a high scoring game. The Eagles have a lot to prove until people start picking them regularly. Final Score: Eagles 27 Redskins 36
Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers (+3.5)
The Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers will finish out the first week of the NFL season. They are both teams that are looking to prove very different things. The Chargers are trying to prove that they can stay relevant after the Norv Turner era, and the Texans are trying to prove they are on the same level as the Broncos and Patriots. Andre Johnson showed last season that he can stay healthy, but the same can't be said about Arian Foster. With or without their main running back, expect this team to take it to Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Final Score: Texans 27 Chargers 16
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also contributes content to the NFL and MLB sections of the site. Make sure you follow him on Twitter.