NFL Week 1 Bets: The Opening Week Crapshoot

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Oh brother, here we go.

It’s Week 1 of the NFL season, and nobody knows what the hell will happen, which makes gambling on the league this week all sorts of frustrating and fun at the same time. You’re just as likely to hit something that seemed like a reach than you are to miss on a perceived no-brainer. Betting on NFL games is a total toss up to begin with, but it’s even crazier in the opening weeks before teams settle into their own. In that way, Week 1 is a bit like the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Even if you’re talking about games without a point spread*, Week 1 is tough to forecast. Yeah, it might sound crazy unlikely, but would anyone be completely and utterly shocked if the Browns beat the Eagles on Sunday? I mean, sure, the Eagles are a better team and will probably win, but they’re still coached by Andy Reid…which makes any scenario possible. Every Week 1 sees one team who was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender start off with an epic crapfest, so why can’t that be the Eagles this week? Or the Patriots? Or the Saints? It will happen to someone.

*Sorry for the Grantlandish footnote-y thing here, but I have a quick aside: I hear a lot of people complain about the various NFL pregame shows picking games without the spread. And it’s not just idiot fans too, it’s radio hosts like Joe Beningo who are like “Bro, BRO… come on, how easy is it to pick games without a spread?!” when talking about the NFL Today or Fox’s pregame show or whatever. This is one of the most mindless complaints ever. You know why Bill Cowher doesn’t make his picks against the spread? Because actual, real life NFL football is NOT played with a point spread! Football analysts are there to break down actual, in between the lines football.  When the Jets take the field on Sunday against the Bills, the game will NOT kick off with the Bills already up 3-0 (and thank the lord for that). So go on Dan Marino, Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Bradshaw and make your non-spread picks. I have no problem with it. Plus, join a survivor pool and see how easy it is to pick games without a spread.

On that note, here are my three picks for the week, of course, against the spread.

Lions -8.5 vs. Rams – I’ve seen this line at -7.5 or even -7 in some other places, but either way I’ll take the Lions. Now, I don’t have a ton of confidence in the Lions overall this year, because if there’s any franchise that can screw up the momentum of last year and a good young quarterback with a can’t-miss wide receiver, its the Detroit Lions. But for this week, I like them at home against the Rams for one main reason; Brian Schottenheimer. Yes, our great old buddy from the Jets’ sidelines is running the Rams’ offense this season. And he actually has less offensive talent on this squad than he ever had with the Jets, and we saw how dynamic Gang Green’s offense was under his guidance this past half decade. Add in the fact that this offense employs the likes of Wayne Hunter and Matthew Mulligan, I mean, how in the hell are the Rams going to stay within 10 points of a team that threw for 5,000 yards last year in their building? Not happening.

Patriots -5 at Tennessee

Five points? That’s it? You’re telling me the  Patriots won’t beat the Titans by a touchdown? Believe me, just like every other writer on this site I’m rooting for Tennessee, but I’m not holding my breath. Too much Tom Brady, who will have a killer day throwing to his new toy Brandon Lloyd on the outside and to Vinny and Ronnie Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski down the seams. The Patriots D isn’t great but I think they’ll be ahead enough early to render Chris Johnson useless.

Chiefs +3 vs. Falcons

The Falcons are one of those teams I talked about above, one that has big expectations coming into the season and could fall flat on its face in Week 1. I don’t like the Falcons outdoors, on the road in a hostile situation against a solid defense. Here are Matt Ryan’s QB ratings the past four season while playing outdoors: 94.2 (the outlier), 76.2, 80.3, and 79.1. His numbers are even worse on grass. I like the Chiefs in an upset outright, so I’ll gladly take the three points.

Bonus Non-Football Bets of The Weekend: Did you know two of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, in their primes, are fighting each other on Saturday for free on HBO? No! No you didn’t know, because you have no idea who Andre Ward or Chad Dawson are, even though you’re clearly a sports fan if you’re on this site. That’s how horridly boring these two are outside of the ring (and sometimes inside the ring too). Ward is the world’s best Super Middleweight (168 pounds) while Dawson is the best at 175, and the fight will be for Ward’s WBC and ring belts. Dawson isn’t a huge puncher, so going down in weight shouldn’t hinder him too much. With a six and half inch reach advantage and a two inch height advantage, I like Dawson  in a pretty big upset at +265.